Whether we have a mental illness or not, we all have varying degrees of mental health, which we should treasure. One of the things that I happen to know does wonders for my daily mental health, is to witness the sunrise.
I’ve always liked a good sunrise. No matter how I’m feeling, it somehow lifts my soul to see the beauty of our universe put on display for me (and you) every morning. In my younger, fitter and healthier days I used to run regularly at the crack of dawn. I chose this time primarily because, other than other runners and walkers, there is generally no one else around. But it also gave me the chance to watch the sunrise.
On particularly energetic mornings I would run to New Brighton Beach to see the sun come out of the sea, and then home around the Avon River in the stunning morning light. It was impossible not to stop and go
It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are about how that sunrise was created, it is beautiful, it is everyday and seeing it is so good for my mental health. A great way to start the day.
Now that fibromyalgia has put paid to running, I admit I don’t see the sunrise as much as I’d like. It’s just too hard to get out of bed early enough, but this past week I have been lucky enough to witness two sunrise experiences that are not usually within my reach.
I was flying home from my stay in England this week. It was 41 hours of travelling and I might have snatched a few minutes snoozing, but not anything worth counting. Planes and sleep just don’t seem to go together… for me anyway.
Early Monday morning (about 1am) I arrived at Dubai Airport where I had an eight-hour wait for my next flight. It was going to be a long night. I set about upping my caffeine levels, as firstly coffee on planes doesn’t even resemble coffee (other than it is wet, warm and brown) and… because it was going to be a long night.
I can tell you that coffee served in airports is also fairly insipid and not resembling the dark, strong brew I prefer. At 4.20am I was sitting at the Nestle Toll House Coffee Stand. The coffee was reasonable, the staff were friendly and most importantly, it was quiet (just what I needed!)
At that moment, over the public loud-speaker, came a male voice which I’m not sure whether I should describe as a wail, a chant or a song. My limited knowledge of religion in that part of the world suggested to me that perhaps this was some kind of sunrise call to prayer. It went on for about four minutes. It wasn’t at all intrusive, although it was certainly different from the music that had been playing, interspersed with announcements.
I admit I had absolutely no idea what the words he sung/chanted meant but I liked it. I liked the idea of calling people to pray, and I don’t really care which religion you or I are thinking of. For me it was a chance to take a few moments to be thankful for the day.
Having left my boyfriend in England the day before, I hadn’t been very thankful for anything. I was very upset to have left. But this unknown-to-me chant, encouraged me to be thankful. It was a good thing for me, because it turned my emotions from upset to calm. That had to be good as I faced the rest of my trip home.
Shortly after the chant finished, I walked around the terminal to where I could hopefully see the sunrise (believing that the two coincided). Actually in Dubai, it’s hard to see the sunrise (and the sunset for that matter). There is a very thick brown haze over the city. Of people I asked about it, some said it was smog (air pollution), others said it was sand in the air, heat, and yet more others said “oh, that’s just Dubai“. Actually I suspect it was a combination of all four, but whatever it was it made the sunrise or sunset rather hazy and difficult to appreciate.
Later that morning my flight continued on to Bangkok, Sydney and then finally Christchurch, on Tuesday afternoon.
On Tuesday morning while flying east across Australia I had the opportunity to see the most amazing sunrise I have ever seen.
“wow” “wow” “wow”
Unfortunately the camera on my phone doesn’t work (and I really need to go and replace the phone) so I don’t have a photo of it to show you. I did find a link to a sunrise similar to what I saw. I don’t have permission to show it here, but if you are interested… check out this link:
Excuse me for going on about it, but it was even better than that photo (which is pretty amazing). It started out terracotta red. Now sunrises in New Zealand are never that colour, just the ordinary pinks and reds, so I knew I was in for something special. If you can imagine this, it developed into a rainbow effect flat along the horizon for as far as the eye could see (with the colours in their order right down to the red at the horizon). I could even see green in the sky. Yes, really.
I have never seen green in the sky as a natural colour, and was completely blown away as I watched for maybe 20 minutes. When the sun finally came up it was molten gold. Wow!
That sunrise made my day. It made me happy. It made me glad I had been on that plane, at that time, even if it had meant leaving England. When my brother picked me up at Christchurch Airport, it was one of the first things I told him, even though it was some nine hours on. It had completely lifted my spirits to see something so natural, be so beautiful.
So maybe getting up to watch the sunrise isn’t your thing. That’s fine, but there are other times of the day where we can just marvel at the beauty of the universe. Why not? What harm can come of it? Go outside and watch the sunset, or check out the moon and the stars when it is dark. Do what works for you. For me it is the sunrise, but also seeing the moon always connects me somehow to my friends on the other side of the world. I know that they will see that same moon soon.
It’s only a little thing but appreciating the beauty of this earth, and universe is a good way to lift our mental health. Give it a try sometime. See what it is that you appreciate.
An excuse: Two days on, I am still jet-lagged and trying to catch up on sleep, and myself. So please forgive me for rambling. I just knew I needed to share the moments.
“And yet day and night meet fleetingly at twilight and dawn,” he said, lowering his voice again and narrowing his eyes and moving his head a quarter of an inch closer to hers. “And their merging sometimes affords the beholder the most enchanted moments of all the twenty four hours. A sunrise or sunset can be ablaze with brilliance and arouse all the passion, all the yearning, in the soul of the beholder.”
― Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember