Monet’s haystacks, butter-yellow, reflect and shimmer as the sun sets over sidewalks, walls, trees and people going about their end of day. This is the Golden Hour, the subtle blatancy of a sunset sinking below the horizon, offering me clarity.
It’s like a kiss from the day, calmly folding over any frustrations or worries and promising a blank slate for tomorrow. The Golden Hour has always inspired me and connected me to a sense of calm and wonder, no matter where in the world I am or how I am feeling.
Rather than rush to accomplish and fit in to-dos, I unpack the day’s worries and let myself find inspiration in the moment. It’s an informal ritual, but taking time to do my favorite things in the Golden Hour offers me respite and reconnection.
Snapshots Capture the Beauty of the World
I’ve always loved the word “snapshot,” which refers to the click-whir of the old cameras as a moment is captured in time. In a snap, you have a glimpse into a moment as time shifts, even though people try to pose in the photo. These images are time capsules for thoughts, emotions, actions and dazzling aspects of memory all in one shot.
The act of taking a photo is mindful, like meditation, especially with an old camera such as Polaroid. There are two kinds of photos I like to take – quick and precise. With quick shots, you’re not really aiming for anything, but rather welcoming the surprise of what unfolds in the photo when you get home. With precise shots, there is consideration of the frame, what is left in and left out, and how far to focus in or out, because there’s a mood or aesthetic I’m trying to communicate.
It’s also a way to share this moment and feeling with friends and family back home. I am alone but never alone, all at the same time. I invite others to look out my window.
Breathing in, Taking in Through my Senses
No matter what country or city I am in, being close to nature in the Golden Hour is revitalizing. I give myself at least thirty minutes to wander off map and let my senses do the exploring instead. I remember to let myself experience the world completely.
A walk or toe dip in a pond engages my whole being: body, mind and spirit. If my mind needs to tumble through its worries, I let it, and then redirect my attention to my natural surroundings.
Strangers have caught me talking to myself, as I say, “Hey, wow! Look at how that old tree is bending over the water!” We all talk to ourselves, and verbalizing our senses is a way to bring our attention to the matter or beauty around us in the present.
Inscribe, Translate and Find Meaning Through Writing
A few years ago, I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and fell in literary love with her concept of “Morning Pages,” just shifting the time to the “Golden Hour Pages,” when I feel the most inspired. The idea is to wake up and fill three pages of stream of consciousness writing, to write whatever and let the pen flow. I wake up by writing three pages in the Golden Hour, as the muse graces me with her presence.
Sometimes, a pocket journal replaces my camera when I go on nature walks. I love graphing journals to sketch and write. In my pocket, I carry another world inside, inscribed and translated to find meaning in myself or the world around me. I’ve expressed wonder, joy, frustration and grief. I’ve psyched myself up to dare to do what I felt anxious about. My pocket journal is the next essential thing to my passport.
For some, the middle of the night or wee hours of morning are the most inspirational, but for me, it’s the final dramatic and yet humble plunge of the sun into the horizon. Here I feel grounded, centered and connected.
Whether it’s taking snapshots of the beauty around me, enjoying nature through my five senses or writing about my inner and outer worlds, the Golden Hour is my time. Find the time that makes you feel the most energized and inspired, and experience all it has to offer. Next time that butter-yellow sunset casts its spotlight on you, don’t shy away – embrace it and report back about what you find.