My rearview mirror offered a perfect view of the sun setting behind me as I drove home. This made it difficult for me to keep my eyes focused on the road in front of me. Golden rays of light coated the deep blue sky like honey, causing the horizon to surrender.
The process of the colors slowly mingling from one shade to another is always breathtaking to me. As I looked into the mirror periodically, I noticed the subtle changes and allowed my mind to soak them in. The artist in me always has been fascinated by sunsets. I love all the nuances of colors and have painted many of them over the years.
The round sun was a flaming ball as it slowly inched down, leaving behind every shade of gold, yellow and orange one could imagine. The tips of the clouds were dotted and outlined in the warm shades and, where the clouds werent, the sky glowed with intensity. With every glance, more blue succumbed to gold until finally the entire sky behind me was ablaze.
Just when I thought it couldnt be any more magnificent, the color pink came to visit, beautifully merging with the orange forming brilliant corals. I found myself holding my breath, hoping it wouldnt end. The dramatic sunset had consumed me for many miles and I hated to see the last little sliver of the sun take the rest of the glowing colors with it.
Once again the day had turned into night and the sun was out of sight until morning. Looking back at the darkness, I was a little sad that it was over. I reminded myself it would only be gone for a while before it woke up the sky again with color and light in the morning. To know it would be back gave me peace and made me smile.
Like leaving the theater when a movie is over on the big screen, I continued to drive. But even though nothing was in my rearview mirror except darkness and car lights, I couldnt get that glorious sunset off of my mind. With each sunset, a day is closed. And with each sunrise, we have a new day.
What happened today is in the past, but then we are given the gift of another day and the opportunities it brings.
I began to think how many times during the years I wanted another chance. How many times have I wanted a do-over? Believe me, there are many. Most of them are minor, while others would have made a bigger difference.
Just the other day as I was starting to film a segment for macon.com, I made a mistake and said something wrong. Looking at the camera I said, Wait! Im going to have to stop and do that again!
That kind of do-over is no big deal. It happens all the time. But when youre on live television or living your life, well, those are different matters.
Certainly we all remember papers weve turned in for a grade that, after getting them back from the teacher, we wish we could have another try. Or an important test we failed to study for whose grade haunted us for years.
In the big picture, these are little things but, as we become older, the choices are much harder and the repercussions more final. Once we make a decision, the opportunity for a do-over may not always be an option.
Even so, with every day, life presents all kinds of opportunities. We constantly have to make decisions about various things. Sometimes how we solve the problem is easy while other times the answers are not quite as clear. Because of that, we need to take more time to think things through before we decide which route to take.
Since none of us are perfect, weve all made mistakes and will continue to do so. But we shouldnt hold onto our mistakes and carry them around like extra weight. All this accomplishes is to bring us down and rob us of too much energy. As a result, were not the best we can be.
When we devote time and energy to what we did wrong yesterday, we cant give the proper attention to what we can accomplish today.
As my mother said many times, If there is something you can do about a situation, do it. If not, you have to let it go. I use that advice from Mother probably more than anything else she taught me.
There are only a certain number of sunrises and sunsets well experience in our lives. None of us know exactly how many. Thats why when I see one, I try to pause and take in its splendor. I also use it as a time to remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to do better than I did the day before.
To me, thats why the colors of a sunset are so magnificent, dramatic and glowing. They get our attention and remind us how precious life is, to not dwell on the past and to encourage us to accept the gift of a new day with gratitude.
Its natures way of telling us that this day has ended with the promise of tomorrow when we will have the opportunity for a do-over.
More with Mark
Mark and Debra Ballards annual New York City holiday trip is Dec. 5-9. Join the Ballards in the Big Apple at the most amazing time of year for Broadway shows, tours, shopping and more. For details, go to www.markballard.com or call 757-6877 and leave your mailing address to receive the information by postal service.
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