Full Circle Now

The scattering of light is one of my favorite optical phenomena. Typically, the color of the sky is caused by Rayleigh scattering, where most of the long wavelengths of light are scattered out, leaving only he purples and blues. Due to the way that out eyes have developed, we are especially sensitive to yellows, making the sky it’s distinctive blue shade.
Sunset behind trees

Sunset at Mohave Point, 8/7/14

But, we don’t live in the world of a kindergartner’s painting, where the grass is all green, the sun a yellow ball, and the sky a scribbled blue crayon. Instead, there are nuances and depth to the sky- especially at the special times of sunrise and sunset. As the sun emerges from below the horizon, its light creeps through the atmosphere. The differing amounts of atmosphere that the light passes through determines the final wavelength of light perceived, creating an awe inspiring rainbow. More than just the colors, sunrise and sunsets have deep symbolic meanings- arousing powerful memories and emotions.

Sitting at Yaki Point this morning, on the Eastern side of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, I was fortunate enough to witness another sunrise. Seeing the sky slowly change from the star-speckled black to dim blue set the stage for the red and green lines to be seen. Soon, a yolk-yellow sun began to crack over Shiva Temple, and the cracks of the canyon were painted gorgeous hues of youthful yellows, brick reds, and vibrant purples. I gazed into the majesty of nature, and finally began to weep.

The last sunrise and sunset that I’ve seen was on one of the most emotional and heartbreaking days of my young life: the last night of SSP. My first all-nighter was filled with stories, memories, star-gazing, picture taking, raw ramen eating, song signing, half-drunk-on-no-sleep chats, last minute rock climbing, blankets, hugs, hugs, tears, tears, tears. It’s still a bit painful in my chest to talk about, because it was the last time that we 36 people were together for this program. Even in reunions and meet-ups in the future, we would be different people with different ideas in our heads. The ideas and concept of the SSP family was ending that night, and none of us wanted to let go.

In our last hours together, we smuggled blankets to The Rock and sat together in quiet muttered conversation. It was my first time observing that sunrise is not a spontaneous change, but a slow gradual melding of colors. Surrounded by true friends and watching the stars blink out, one by one, I was content. Through the past five and a half weeks, I’ve learned and discovered so much about myself, and I have found so many people who I could count on. I’ve discovered so many inside jokes and shared frustrations, as well as late night secrets and daytime joys. In short, I found home.

But it was all coming to a close. And that ending was in my mind as I observed the ending of our family trip as well. Through the past several blogs, I’ve been focusing on SSP experiences and the nature around me, but at the same time, I’ve been surrounded by family. My loving parents, who have supported and sponsored me every step of the way, as well as my slightly eccentric grandparents who love me so much. We have been on an incredible 10 day road trip across the southwest, seeing so many diverse sights and adventuring in the wonders of America. Yet, this trip was too concluding along with the end of my summer, the end of an experience.

As sad as goodbyes are, they bring in something equally inspiring- hope. Hope in that my scattered friends will always stay in touch. Hope in the application of our scientific knowledge to change the world. Hope in the days to come, hope in our shared future. As said by another SSPer from New Mexico,

“Yesterday, while everyone was bawling their eyes out, I started tearing up myself. Not because I was sad, but because our futures were so damn bright.”
~ Kevin Lee

Sunsets and sunrises represent a cycle of life. They promise that the world will continue to spin, and that life moves on. Nothing happens the same way twice- there are new adventures out there. One thing is for sure: these past weeks will be in my memory forever. I am changed. I will stay changed. And though it has been said posted, here is For Good again.

Today, I look out across the asphalt strip of Interstate 40. I look towards the fluffy cumulus clouds above, and the miles of untouched desert to my right. The world is my oyster, my textbook, my adventure, and now more than ever I am ready to carpe diem. I’ve come full circle on this journey, and nothing can stop me now.

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