Beyond the mountains a fire is dying. The remnants of a light that illuminated our world and is nothing more now than cooling embers, glowing red and casting their devilish, crimson shadows against snowy peaks and smoking chimneys. I look around for signs of panic but find none. The faces of my fellow men and women are taken up in laughter or shrouded in silent contemplation. None of them scan the horizon or seem frightened at the coming darkness. Their yellow goddess lies beaten, bleeding, gasping for breath and clinging to the throne of day, but soon her light too will fade, eclipsed by the black cold of night. Her reign of hours nearly complete, the passing of the scepter is nonetheless unremarkable. All of them, my Earth-bound kin, they all know that she will rise again tomorrow, none the dimmer for her time beyond our world. But will she be the same? Will her appearance match the soul within, or will that golden orb embody the spirit of another? What happens to our goddess when she dies? Whose life is breathed into her anew at the coming of dawn?
But these questions are as juvenile as the phrase we use to describe her fate. Why should I, an educated man, use such a philistine description as ‘sunset’ to imply what I know to be nothing of the sort? Am I not aware that the sun is not setting, but that the Earth itself is spinning at over one thousand miles per hour to drive our vision of the sun ever westward? Why then should I countenance such an out-dated notion, a sun set, by admitting it into my vocabulary, letting it take up residence there and spew out with its own issuance the kind of backward thinking that reins in logic and reason and human progress?
Yes, an educated man I am. I am that. I am a man who is quite capable of viewing the world and its clockwork of inhabitants with the kind of cold detachment that puts the sun goddess forever in her grave, never again to rise, not even in the eyes of those who once believed. I am a lover of science. I celebrate discovery and push my own boundaries in a quest for knowledge and enlightenment. I question the wisdom of convention for its own sake, and I believe that a revolution of the mind is born with every child that takes its first breath. I am a champion of all pursuits of intellectual inquiry, and I am convinced that an unbridled search is essential to finding the answers that we seek. I am a citizen of the world, and I tear down the walls my ancestors built, with fear as their stones and lies as their mortar, in hopes that when we see one another clearly we will embrace and rejoice. This is the man that I am. The man that knows that the sun does not set, that the goddess does not die because she never lived.
But for all of my logic and all of my reason, that man that I am is not alone. He is not alone because there is another man. One of many other men. These other men are also who I am. And this one other man in particular, this other man is a dreamer. He watches the sun set with a catch in his heart, and he asks the moon, who knows her best, if her soul returns as well as her body, or if it is swallowed by the void of night. And when his only reply is that handsome, winking face, he consoles himself with this and stumbles home, eternally hopeful. He falls asleep and enters new worlds. He has no doubt that he travels to them, lives in them, dies in them. And although he fears the dying, although it hurts him and leaves an erasable mark, he does not fear the dreaming, for to forgo the dreaming would be a far crueler death. He wakes exhausted, not even rested from his rest, but he would not trade his nights spent toiling, dueling, flying and laughing. And he opens the door onto a bright world, one that only he sees, and he smiles, for to live as he does is to love to live.
This man, this man who I am, is not at odds with the other, although they do at times quarrel. They know that they need one another, that they are parts of a whole, a whole that includes still others besides themselves. They know this. I know this. I know that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius and freezes again at zero. I even know that this is a more sensible way to approach it. I know that hearts are not cut into pretty, symmetrical shapes before they are placed into our bodies, and I know that dust contains dead skin, feces and tiny little bugs. But I still believe in fairy tales. I still believe in love and Hollywood romance. I still believe in magic and spaces between spaces. I still believe in destiny, though I believe wholeheartedly that we are the authors. I still believe in free will, though I believe that there is a plan at work. I still believe in dreams come true, in secret wishes made on the knee, in an enduring hope that binds us and pushes us forward. I still believe in God. I still believe in humanity. I still believe that sunsets are beautiful.