When you go out of your way to pay a special visit to a reputedly special place to await and watch what is reputedly the best sunset atop the best vantage point in the country What do you expect to see? The first true signs of the end of days the man with the straggly long hair and dropping moustache stated categorically Glory in all its vividly obscene dissipating layers said one A solid shaft of pure golden light representing the pathway to heaven said another The small group sitting in the rock beside me said it was the last sunset they always came to see, but they hadn’t seen it yet A couple on the other side of the hill crest said they came for the purity of love they experienced every evening together under the setting sun A man and his dog told me they found in the descent of lonely Sol a parallel with their own existence dying each day and reborn alone each morning no matter how splendid each evening looked to others There was a small girl in rags come up from the squalid town below. She saw hope in the sunset of an escape into a world of bright light and enchantment away from her stolid grey existence There was an off duty policeman present. He came to wish all the bad things he saw done every day depart below the horizon before he could sleep at night A woman all dressed in white told me her life was colourless and joyless except for this moment every day where she could finally grasp the meaning of true beauty before she forgot what it was in the black of night A priest in his hot black tunic and white collar was saying a prayer as I passed. Bless this world with the light of another day An aged pensioner said he came to pay his respects to the newly dead as they left this life for the darkness and left him one day more alone A trail runner had run all the way to the top because it was there, but he had to get back before nightfall lest he stumble or lose his way A group of drug affected alts were there to optimise the effect of their high in natural harmony with the earth the sun the solar system and the universe as their synthesised meds could make them An artist was there to capture the waning beauty of Ra’s life giving fireball on a canvas 2m square An astronomer and a night watchman came together not for the sunset, but for the starlight to follow. Their interest was in the understanding and security of the afterglow. A marketing businessman came to follow the money wherever money might be found, he was always up for a look at a business opportunity wondering how he could leverage the sunset to his financial advantage. I found a quiet spot of my own right atop the stony summit and looked with the other people sitting there across the broad brown plain below, the towns with their lights blinking on one by one, the smoke rising from eternal hearth fires, stubble fires, waste fires, methane columns and coal pits I saw the permanent haze along the curvature of the earth, the grey brown band of smog climbing into the atmosphere the sooty stain on the sun and I realised there was no magnificent sunset here every evening It was a man made illusion comprised of the load of filth pumped incessantly into the air I knew then I had come to view not the sunset but witness the tangible manifestation of decline So I left that summit to discover if there remained views from cleaner clearer summits My journey took me around the world I saw the sun set on other plains hills mountains lakes oceans and ice caps I met talked and planned with others who along with me wanted to rediscover the first pristine sunset and see it resurrected At the last summit I attended I met just one man and one woman who had been at that place sitting walking watching talking and awaiting just one pure sunset together forever I asked them what they had learned? They said that it will come
Call it naive.