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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  SUNRISE, SUNSET
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Monday, August 7,2017


By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

My husband loves to take pictures of the sunset on vacation. He snaps hundreds of them seeking the perfect shot. Inevitably he does capture quite a few winners. This year, I suggested we get up to see the sunrise to compare the way they lit up the sky. That led us to a discussion about which we prefer: watching the sun set to close out the events of the day, or watching it rise and welcome a brand new day. Truth be told, I thoroughly enjoy both. As the sun reflects on the water and illuminates the sky like magic, it is a perfect time to sit still and reflect on our own inner waters, hopefully illuminating parts of ourselves that might not be seen if not for taking this time. The following is about one such time this summer.

I gazed at the sunset imagining a gigantic rosy coin being inserted into a giant slot machine. It occurred to me that I had hit the jackpot! I love where I live, I love my job and I love my family. I felt so lucky and that feeling settled into a deep gratitude. The hypnotic power of the sunset had me enraptured. I began thanking God, the universe and all people past and present who have been a force of good in their lifetimes. In the process, I began making a mental list of things that I could do to be a force for good in my lifetime. Meanwhile, the sun continues to work its way below the horizon as if to say, "I did my job today, how´d you do?" I took this as a gentle reminder that without action, a list remains a list. Despite how very small we are relative to the universe, our smallest actions can mean the world to someone else. Like the fable of the little starfish on the beach: Each evening hundreds of starfish would wash up on the shore of a beach. An old woman walked the beach every evening picking up the starfish and throwing them back in.

A passerby asked her why she bothered, when the next day there were sure to be hundreds more washing ashore and she replied, "It may not seem like I am making a difference on this beach (she bends down and picks up a little starfish), but to this one, it makes all the difference in the world."

Watching a sunset is like switching the meditation button "ON." You just sit and watch and wait. It is automatically inspiring. Over here, on the east coast of south Florida, we are invited to reflect as the sun rises. Rather than contemplating the events at the day´s end, we can think about what we want to do with the new day we´re given. There are advantages to each, I suppose. A rising sun invokes a feeling of having the whole world in front of you. On the other hand, as the sun sets, there is the inevitable option to think, "tomorrow is another day." On this occasion as I pondered which I preferred, the waitress approached. I ordered a margarita and decided at that moment a margarita sounded better than setting an alarm clock in the morning. Really, though, if you catch either, you luck out.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE / M.S. Ed. Jonna Shutowick, M.S. Ed. is a high school history teacher for the Palm Beach County

school district. She has created a character named Rosey Shades TM , whose philosophy teaches students about the importance of choosing optimism over pessimism by asking, “What color are the clouds in your world? For more information, visit


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