DAY 3: 30 Seconds of Gazing

a Cali Sunset
Brian Hogan

I had a few martinis last night and then finished off by taking some swigs of swill right out of the cheap white wine bottle on the bottom shelf of my neighbors fridge. I fell asleep quickly and pleasantly enough but I woke up to the sounds of construction banging around in my head. Not because there was any construction; I wake up at 3:30 am so it was quiet and reverent, but my brain was abuzz with the scars from the booze. I rubbed my eyes, seeped out of bed onto the floor and braced myself on the edge of my dresser for the dizzying nausea I was sure was about to hit me. A few moments passed and other than this pulsing yet diminishing headache I was okay. No other hangover symptoms. I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t been drinking much lately so my tolerance is shot and I was fully expecting to wake up to a nauseating pile of consequences in the form of a wretched morning, but the hangover never came. Is this related to the sun-gazing, I began to wonder? I’ve only been at this for a few days and I have quite possibly found the first truly effective cure for a hangover: Gaze at the sun at the merciless hour after sunrise for less than a minute for five days in a row, then go out for drinks, over do it, mix liquor with wine, talk crap with some friends, go to bed and wake up at 3:30 am refreshed! I’m not sure I see that prescription catching on like wildfire or anything, but it is effective. I’m just saying. 

After my morning yoga & chanting session I hopped into Summer (that’s the name of my sporty white convertible), top down, heat cranking, and cruised up to the top of the canyon to meet Nikki and to meet the gaze of the sun with my own. Today we would gaze for 30 seconds. I have to admit I was feeling a small pit in my tummy because thirty seconds seems like a really long time and I’m starting to realize for the first time just how long 44 minutes is and how I must be a literal certifiable crazy person to have started this ridiculous quest in the first place. I know that I am that socially acceptable form of “crazy” where people roll their eyes when I’m too loud in public. And I’ve been called “quirky” by a large percentage of my friends, and we know quirky is a word you use when you don’t want to tell me that I’ve lost you and I’m not making sense anymore. But now, as Summer and I round the bend and sail into the parking lot I begin to think I’ve completely lost my mind, and not in the cozy people-chuckle-at-your-eccentricities-way, but in the bite-down-on-this-teeth-guard-so-you-don’t-hurt-yourself-when-we-run-1000-volts-of-electricity-though-your-crazy-lunatic-brain-way. I see visions of myself in a padded cell and trying to stab an orderly with a sharpened toothbrush. By the time I park I am internally in a complete panic. How did I get myself into this? What was I thinking putting this up on a blog? The sun is gonna burn my brain right outta my head! I stuffed those thoughts into my knapsack, took a deep breath and got out of the car. 

Nikki was already waiting for me on the patch of soil, barefoot, smiling and groggy. I showed her no sign of my inner turmoil because I was supposed to be the trailblazer, not the whiny scaredy cat who suddenly wants to quit before day three. We took our positions, readied the timer and waited for the sun to make an entrance. We kept an eye in the general eastward direction and began to chat about nothing while we waited. After a few moments I noticed that the sun had indeed already entered and is shrouded behind a thin smear of clouds. A euphoric wave of relief washed over me. All the fear and pressure of a thirty-second stare drained from body through the bottoms of my feet that were, by now, buried in the earth. I love you, clouds! I could stare at this cloudy ball of sunshine forever, no problem. We kept the time and took the plunge. 

Thirty seconds went by like it was five and when Nikki said the time was up I involuntarily barked “No, I don’t want to stop.” I came to my senses about eight seconds later and looked away. I felt like I had just lost some cosmic staring contest. The experience of looking at the cloud-glazed sun for thirty seconds was truly profound. It’s hard to explain what happens inside my eyes and my heart as I stare. I am pulled. I am beckoned. I have felt a glimpse of this on the other days, but with the extra ten seconds today it was a visceral experience. When you stare at the sun it’s not just your eyes that get involved. You enter a conversation. And the longer you stare the more interesting and stimulating the conversation becomes. When it was time to stop today it almost felt rude to look away, as if I had finally gotten the sun’s attention and right when he was about to speak I say “never mind” and turn my head. In every source of research I’ve seen on this subject the common thread is the advice to take it slowly and not to rush it. I understand now why that is repeated like a mantra throughout the books and articles I’ve come across. The sun is addicting, and it’s enthralling. It pulls you in and invites you to stay. If you don’t exercise the will to break free at the proper time you could easily sit there lost in bliss while the unassuming sun happily fills you with energy and fries your eyes off. 

The giddiness of previous mornings pervaded my countenance today as well, wrapping itself around my body as if feelings were made of cotton now. I don’t just feel giddy, I feel surrounded by giddiness. Again I find myself trying to describe an ineffable experience that words can only hope to distort. The more gazing I experience the more beyond description it becomes. I feel certain today that the sun is trying to tell me something, or show me something. So I feel a renewed vigor and courage to keep on gazing. I’m going to gaze until my eyes are finally ready to see. 

SIDE EFFECTS: Addictive, seems to have the power to hypnotically pull your gaze toward it. 

BENEFITS: It seems to be able to transform abject horror into giddy euphoria in thirty seconds. 

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About Brian

About Brian

Brian is a Writer, Clarity Coach, Filmmaker and Adjunct Professor who loves teaching and learning, and living in the uncertainty of it all.

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