I started my 35th year with a sunrise. It was intentional. I woke up early, poured myself some coffee in my favorite cup—a cheap mug from the Peter Pan Market on Oregon’s north coast, the site of dangerously delicious, habit-forming carrot cake and part of the coastal tour I took with my father before leaving for Colorado—and stood in the kitchen watching the morning rays creep across our still snow-covered street.

It was nothing special.

I don’t mean that watching the sun diamondize the snow stacked up on our balcony and paint the sky in watercolors wasn’t beautiful or impressive. It was. It was also, well, expected. After seven months in sunny Colorado, I’ve probably seen more sunrises than I did in 10 years in Portland, where any morning the sky lifts her foggy skirt long enough for the sun to stake an early claim on the horizon practically qualifies as a news event. (Seriously, the other day, my news streams blew up with pictures and status updates from Portlanders pointing out that the sun had come up—quite beautifully, but still.)

Sunrises have always been special to me because they take a little effort to catch. Anyone can sneak a peek at the sunset, but to catch dawn—especially in summer—you’ve got to be motivated. And for that reason, you don’t have as many people with whom to share the moment. No jostling for a table with a view on the 27th floor of the Hyatt; no elbowing atop Linger.

No, a sunrise is a solitary pursuit: a quiet moment to stop, swaddled in the stillness of those shadowy minutes before the world wakes up and the sky gives birth to yet another day, and appreciate a thing that is bigger, bolder, and more beautiful than any human endeavor.

That moment, that pause, that’s what I was after when I roused early yesterday. In my short tenure here in Colorado, I’ve adjusted all too easily to the majestic mornings, hurry and scurrying through the brightening hours and rarely pausing to appreciate the force behind them. So it seemed fitting—on a day that could quite conceivably be the halfway point in my life—to stop and ponder what has passed and what is still yet to be.

—Image courtesy Shutterstock

Follow senior editor Kasey Cordell on Twitter @KaseyCordell.

Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell is the former Editorial Projects Director for 5280.