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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 4-22-22 – Sunrises

“There's always a story. It's all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything's got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.” ― Terry Pratchett

Sunrise has always been my special time, best experienced in nature with a hot cup of coffee in

hand. It is no secret that I am an early morning person. A lark through and through. I suspect that my internal clock got set to rise in early morning when I was a kid. I never need an alarm clock, I just wake up, often hours before anyone else. My time. I write, think, read and on the best of days I can get out in nature and watch the sun come up from on the top of a mountain or at the edge of a river. I get my daily dose of solitude before the world wakes up and things start jumping. I need this time to reorient and get my bearings. Some people who know me well may suggest I am crabby in the morning if I don’t have time to get my legs under me. I confess that if the day hits me like I got catapulted off of an aircraft carrier, I am not in top form. I need to ease into the day, get collect myself and clear my head or I am less than serene.

Rising before the world started early in life. I delivered morning newspapers from around age 11 through my teen years. Most every morning in those early days I got to experience the sunrise. I would be on my paper route, tossing those papers onto porches in West Bethlehem well before the sun hit the horizon. Newspapers were common and a lot of people read them. It was how everyone got their news. I got pretty good at the fold, aim and toss, done in one fluid motion. I can still hear the sound of the papers hitting those porches and sliding to rest on the door mats. Often the only sound to be heard. My routine was connected to all of my customers routines. I had a handful of early morning risers waiting for me, coffee in hand. Others I never saw, but they all counted on having that paper as they woke up.

Before the sunrise, the world is at peace. The early morning is magic time. The return to consciousness after a rest, which at least for me is the time (following adequate coffee) for creativity. Everything is tranquil and in slumber as the horizon begins to glow. The stars overhead fading into the purples of the morning sky. Things start to wake up as the hues of light start creeping up from the east. A time for contemplation, introspection of simply to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin as it pops up over the horizon. A good start can set the tone for what comes afterwards.

The world is a more interesting place at sunrise. Mist burns off dew covered branches as they are hit by beams of light that travel over 93 million and take about 8 minutes and 20 seconds at light speed to reach us. I take more pictures at this time of day; I love the colors from lens flare. The picture above was taken two weeks ago at Van Campens Glen, on the New Jersey side in the Delaware Water Gap. This time of year is particularly special as the sun shines into the glen at exactly the right angle over the gurgling mountain brook. I can sit there for an hour and watch the mist burn off the rocks, and moss-covered trees, feel the breeze on my face and forget about everything beyond that moment in time.

I remember in early recovery when sleep was extra messed up. I was learning about REM rebound in a lived experience manner. It can be quite disturbing and disorienting as dreams are so vivid in early recovery. Some mornings in that first year, I would wake up and go for early morning walks, striking out for a local diner to have breakfast. Those breakfasts were one of my early recovery gifts. Money in my pocket, a new thing for me. I never got to morning with money in my pocket in active addiction. Addiction included a lot of days with no sunrises. Waking up mid-day, disoriented and feeling terrible. I prefer recovery and waking up refreshed. A clear head and no remorse. Even in those early recovery days, I could sense that promise of a new life as I experienced the glory of a simple diner breakfast as the sun beamed in the windows and I ate my eggs at Dempsey’s. Moments like that helped me get through those early days.

I have also been fascinated with eclipse, which is like a sunrise during the day. We are just under two years away from a major one, which will occur on April 8th, 2024, also known as the Great American Eclipse with a huge swath of North America experiencing totality. Including areas close enough to me to experience it, like Erie PA! Experiencing a total eclipse is on my bucket list. If we are lucky and the weather cooperates, there shall be two sunrises on that day.

I have seen a lot of sunrises in my life. I am grateful for each one of the sunrises I have been gifted. More than I deserve, for sure. I am grateful for that. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a good sunset, but I prefer the possibilities of the rise over the finality of the set as the world moves into darkness. A sunrise is really special. We all got another one, today. It is a gift. It reminds us we have today a chance to change our stories. A fresh start to do better and to be better. Whatever occurred yesterday is done. What occurs tomorrow is out of our control. When the morning sun hits the blades of grass at our feet, it is our reminder that what we have is right now.

What are you grateful for today?

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