Should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes

Though I don’t talk about him as much these days, John Mayer will always be the musician of my soul. His music has gotten me through some pretty tumultuous years, that’s for sure, and snippets of his songs often provide the background noise of my experiences.

I woke up at 4 a.m. Saturday, showered and threw myself into my car en route to Cove Point, Maryland. Our photography club had gotten special permission to shoot a sunrise at this gorgeous lighthouse along the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the fact that I’m a crazy shedevil first thing in the morning, my mom and I decided to make the 50-minute trek. We got to the lighthouse just as the sky was beginning to lighten.

I can count on one hand the number of sunrises I’ve seen. And I don’t count watching pretty hues paint the sky as I was headed to an early shift or an airport; I mean sunrises I really watched, from beginning to end, doing nothing but stare at the horizon.

It was freezing by the water. The wind kicked off the bay and cut right through my thin wool coat. As we stepped onto the beach, wet sand soaking my sneakers, I struggled to find my footing. It didn’t matter, though; I was fixated on the changing light, watching how quickly the clouds morphed in the stillness. Hours later, after the sky had turned bright blue, I thought about how rewarding it is to see a day from beginning to end.

And I thought about John, of course. About “3×5,” a song from his first album — an album I’ve listened to countless times, memorizing each breath. Though it’s one of my favorite tunes, it’s been so long since I listened to “Room For Squares.” I played it later.

“You should have seen that sunrise
With your own eyes
It brought me back to life.
You’ll be with me next time
I go outside
No more three by fives . . .”

I think about that song from time to time: about how sometimes it’s more important to soak up a moment than try to document it. Though it pained me, I chose not to bring my camera to Erin’s wedding last fall. I knew I’d be more obsessed with taking pictures of every detail than enjoying my good friend’s union, enjoying being a bridesmaid.

But sometimes we get lucky, as I did on Saturday. At Cove Point, I did both. I stayed in the moment and I documented the moment. It’s magic when that happens.

My souvenirs of that morning — my photos, which I’ll share on Wednesday — are great, but the real take-away is how it felt to stand on a cold beach as the world woke up. You really do feel like it’s you alone on an island, the only person left in the universe, and that everything is yours for the taking.

12 thoughts on “Should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes

  1. In general, I want to be more present in my life, not just document it. But I think that can be hard for those in the creative arts. I can’t wait to see your sunset photos on Wednesday! The word I think to describe the first photo here is magical…it’s like the cover to a fantasy novel 🙂


  2. Wow. I’m not much of a morning person and dislike the cold, but even I would haul myself out of a warm bed to see a sunrise like that. Can’t wait to see Wednesday’s photos.


  3. When we go to the beach, Carl almost always gets up in the morning to watch the sunrise over the ocean in the morning while I stay in bed like a slug. I think I need to join him next time.


  4. It’s so important to enjoy yourself in the moment, but I agree it’s awesome when you can do that AND document it! Are these pictures you took too? They’re gorgeous!! I would frame it and just look at it all the time, LOL.


  5. I, too, have a hard time finding that balance between enjoying the moment and wanting to document it. Looks like you succeeded in doing that with these photos!


  6. Beautiful! I drive into the sunrise in the morning on my way to work, and there have been some spectacular colors this month. I keep thinking I need to have my camera with me to take pictures…but then I’d also need to leave earlier and that’s just not going to happen.


  7. Room for Squares is my favorite of Mayer’s albums. It always frustrates me that from his songs, he sounds like such an awesome, sweet guy, but in reality he’s a pretty big tool. Disappointing. Beautiful photos by the way!


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