My whole body aches. My neck, in particular, is sore from resting my head on the car window. And then… then I remember that I’m in Germany. I’m in Germany, traveling with some of my favorite people. The excitement wakes me up, and my exhaustion wanes slightly.
I look out the window. I can see the first rays of the sun, rising somewhere outside Munich. The van is quiet. Everyone is still asleep, except the driver, well, more on that later.
We were miles from our destination (can I still say ‘miles’ even though it’s Europe?), and yet, we were exactly where I wanted to be. We were heading to Jena, but we had taken the… um… well let’s call it “the scenic route”: Berlin, Wittenberg, Dresden, Prague, Munich, and THEN, Jena. We had arrived in Berlin Friday morning, separate red-eyes across the Atlantic, and had to be in Jena by Sunday. So we traded things like sleep, food, comfort, and what some would say “the normal thing to do” for a crazy adventure across eastern Germany and a sweet rendezvous* in Prague. (*okay not really, but ‘rendezvous’ is a fun word, and I didn’t want to edit it out. I thought about going full Lit Major on you guys and saying “a sweet rendezvous with Prague” but I don’t think Prague wants to be personified.)
I watched the sky getting brighter and brighter. I wasn’t thinking about all the things we had done the day/night before. Like famous church doors in Wittenberg; Christmas markets in Dresden; or wandering around Prague sometime between midnight and 3am).
No, in that moment, I watched that sunrise and thought “When was the last time a sunrise made me this happy?”
Of course, the answer was never, since I prefer sleeping through them, and usually dawn evokes in me the feeling of certain doom since it means I STILL haven’t finished some essay due in a couple hours.
But anyways, I distinctly remember reflecting on that sunrise at that moment. Taking a pause and attempting to capture that moment in my mind’s eye forever. And it worked!
Because years later, I can remember it vividly:
The peaceful, quiet.
The excitement of the day ahead.
The joys of adventures with friends.
Most of all, a solemn appreciation, a gentle yet awe-inspiring unbelief that THIS is my life.
“How lucky am I,” I thought.
When anxiety and loneliness come my way, I remember that sunrise somewhere out there – far, far away from me in time and space.
I don’t look back and think, “Take me back!”
I don’t share this story to brag that I’ve traveled (okay, maybe a little.)
That sunrise is a reminder to every now and then, stop and take notice.
To rest in contentment instead of wallowing in self-pity or dwelling on my worries. Because at the end of day, I love my life, and the people who make it so wonderful.
It’s hard to believe that after such deep reflection and dramatic staring out a window, pondering life at the sight of a sunrise, our driver (who shall remain nameless) accidentally crashed the car into a rail. So that peaceful quiet was instantly exchanged for screaming. We then spent a good couple hours figuring out rental car insurance, which did not inspire nearly as much awe…
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