I tried this morning to catch the sunrise again, but the clouds were there first, determined to distract from the show. The clouds are like that asshole in movie theaters who answers their cell phone and has an entire conversation during the best action scenes. Just like the clouds at sunrise, they ruin the entire experience. So I stood in front of my West Hollywood bungalow at dusk a block away from Santa Monica Boulevard and gazed at the setting sun. From my vantage point in West Hollywood I don’t have the luxury of waiting until just 3 minutes before sunset because there are buildings in the way so I have to gaze when the sun is thirty minutes from setting and still has the sting of bright white heat beaming it’s way toward me. I know I can do this though because I stood here on day twelve and, although the light was bright and I cried, it wasn’t painful and my eyes adjusted just as easily. I was surprised and delighted. So, with my friend Johanna at my side I grabbed the earth with my bare feet, clinched my toes around the cool ground and stared away.
Tears streamed down my face but despite the sharp white edges of the sunlight there was no pain today. My eyes are officially conditioned to accept the sun. I get squinty when the water pools up in my sockets but as soon as I blink it free my face relaxes and the gaze continues undisturbed. As my eyes adjust more and more to the light I notice new facets of the sun. For example, I can see now this ring that zips around the edge of the disc, it circles the sun in white, then circles the opposite direction in black, then changes direction and circles in white again. It’s as if the sun has the Chinese Yin/Yang symbol hidden behind it and we can see the outer edges of the black and white design as it teeters around and then around the other way, then back around the first way again. I am feeling more and more balanced within myself as I keep to my ritual and watch the sun so it’s no surprise that the very symbol of balance and duality would be housed up there in the ball of fire.
The days are starting to blend together and I accidentally gazed for an extra 10 seconds today. There was no pain, no bursting of the retina, no dizzying blindness. Just ten extra seconds of beautiful yellow light. People passed by and did their usual double takes at the barefooted weirdo crying and wide-eyed like a zombie staring off into space. The distractions of the city and the strange looks I get don’t even phase me anymore. After we were done today Johanna commented that I was so focused on the sun. But the truth is that it is easy to focus because staring at the sun is even more delicious than staring at a piece of fine art. It’s alive. It is staring back. I am not simply appreciating beauty like one does when they gaze at a sculpture in a gallery, I am interacting with beauty. I am being unmade and remade by this beauty into something even more beautiful. They say looking at good art changes a person. I’m starting to realize that looking at the sun changes everything.
SIDE EFFECTS: None
BENEFITS: The sun has details within it, behind it and around it. And the more my eyes adjust to the light the more I can make out these details, and they are mysterious, breathtaking, like a treasure only a few lucky souls will ever get to experience.