When asked what I enjoy most about living in the Midwest, I always include autumn sunsets near the top of the list. I don't know whether it's a pure meteorological phenomenon or caused by the large amount of soil and dust in the air from harvest, but we are regularly treated to breathtaking views. It's easy to get spoiled by these natural spectacles and feel disappointed when the day ends without a masterpiece on the horizon.
Last night as I was coming home from work, the sky looked destined to disappoint. Wispy clouds scattered among the blue had held promise earlier in the day, but by dusk had been replaced by a thickening grey soup that shrouded the sun. I still decided to drive past our subdivision and find my way out west of town. Something in me whispered that I would have to work harder to find the day's masterpiece.
I stopped along a country road near a small stand of trees and stepped out with my camera. The remaining light was slowly sliding past the horizon. I wasn't sure any of the photos would be worth keeping, but I kept adjusting my frame and focus trying to capture the moment. When I returned home to process the photos, I was surprised to find a subtle range of color on the horizon -- even more than my eyes had seen.
As I sit here on Thanksgiving morning, I am overwhelmed for what I have to be thankful. This past year has been a true gift to me, one of the best years of my life. It was not without tumult and pain, both personal and professional. But it has been a year in which I learned a great deal about myself, and who I am meant to be. It has been a year that taught me the lesson that made me keep driving last night: The essence of life isn't just about finding inspiration in the breathtaking. It's about opening your eyes to the subtle masterpiece constantly in view.