On walking at dusk

This is a beautiful post by L. M. Sacasas about walking at dusk. This is a habit I’ve developed over the last two years of my life, during summers in which I was struggling to think through massive upheaval in my personal life. I hadn’t understood quite why I found this such a powerful way to settle myself but the rest of his post offers a compelling explanation of why this can have such a powerful effect.

Several months ago I was taking a walk with my daughters through one of the paths around our home. I live in the suburbs of a small city, but I’m fortunate to be in a relatively wooded area and to have a number of short paths and trails to walk. On this occasion, we were heading back home just as the sun was dropping below the horizon. The first thing I noticed in those moments was not the sunset itself; the canopy of trees made that impossible to see. Nor was it how the quality of the soundscape became pleasantly muted and noise-absorbent. Instead, the first thing I noticed was that my shoulders relaxed as if in response to some subtle cue which escaped my conscious attention but which my body nonetheless perceived. Only then did I realize how tense my muscles had been and how much stress I was carrying around with me.

This moment has lingered with me in the months since. I’ve kept thinking about how my body responded to the gradually diminishing light and how rare such an experience of a measured, unhurried transition had become. Ordinarily, I would pass from the glaring light of the sun during the day to the glaring light of the electric lamp during the evening. Then, when it came time to sleep, the flip of a switch would abruptly take me from light to dark, excepting perhaps the harsh glow of the backlit screen. No gradual transition, no soft, fading light to modulate my stress levels, relax my muscles, and prime me for a night of rest.


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