We were ready to head back to shore. The last trap sunk into the ocean, snapping the buoy off the deck floor. As I began to hose off the rail and cover up barrels, I noticed the sun beginning its descent. The same mid-June, 8:00 p.m. sunset as yesterday. It was funny seeing the same sun at that instance so often. The tiny green line, representing the horizon, was almost non-existent. That was kind of intimidating to think about, out in federal waters on a lobster boat, far from anybody else. Surely being six to seven miles offshore was trivial for the captain and other sternman, but to a sophomore in high school, it might as well have been the heart of the Atlantic. All there seemed to be in the world was this boat, the sun, and the flat expanse of sea. It was beautiful. I thought of this as the engine roared, billowing smoke and spraying saltwater.
Those experiences out at sea gave me perspective. Often times, the most beautiful things are right under our noses. It can be hard to see if we don’t step back and look from afar.
As students of Boston College, we may not be conscious of the beautiful things around us. This space was made for us. We are BC. Not BU or even Boston, but something all our own. A home beyond our homes and an amalgamation of our collective thoughts. We see this concept shaped through our campus. We could go to classes in simple boxes, trudging through crowded streets from one concrete square to the next, but we don’t. The monotony of the concrete jungle is broken by strips of grass and stone. Our Gothic-style architecture is as steeped in history as it is in art and expression. They not only serve to house our classes, but to make the landscape, to make BC, more visually stimulating.
How we get to class is even different. Feats of engineering, like our stairs, are as much a testament to the minds behind their construction as they are a reminder of harmony with nature as they hug the massive hillside. As we trek to class, planned, planted greenery flank our sides magnificently with color. The scene feels alive and, with the seasons, ready to embrace new elements. This fall was dominated by red, yellow, and orange leaves, which crack beneath our feet as we traversed the walkways of campus. In winter snow transforms this place into something unrecognizably beautiful,under a pure blanket of white. Simply put, there is art and beauty framed all around us. All we have to do is take it in.
And yet, being surrounded by beauty is both a blessing and a curse. We become numb or indifferent to the simple pleasures around us. We forget the things we pass every day in favor of desultory thoughts and abject grimaces about finals. Wrapped up in studies, phones, or preoccupied with life in general, we forget the world that exists outside our gaze.
I often walk through campus with removed eyes, not really seeing. The things around me become visual white noise, boundaries between me and everything else. But every now and again, I come back into myself and break the trance. I hear the wind blow, get a beam of sun in my eyes, and wake up to see the world around me. Those moments are rare though, and I find that truly appreciating the beauty around me comes from stepping back away from it. It is one of those sad, bittersweet moments where you do not realize what you have until it is gone. Going away for vacation or taking a break gives the same kind of perspective that seeing a mundane sunset from afar gave me. From a distance, I can truly see the charm, though I’m detached from it. This makes it all the more important to see it now, while we still can, before our time here ends.
On the boat, gulls flocked behind us as the remnants of fish wash off the stern. Now that we were done, I sat on the rail and watched as the light grew dimmer and the world ahead became larger and larger. The other sternman ripped off his gloves, lit a cigarette, and joined me on the rail with his camera. He began snapping pictures of the sun just before it disappeared.
“Have you ever seen colors like that before? Come on, you have to take a picture of that, no one else will get a picture like that,” he said.
“I thought most looked the same,” I replied.
“Not from out here. Stuff gets in the way on land. They’re much prettier from out here.”
He snapped one last photo before the rays vanished, leaving us in with only the lights coming from shore.
Featured Image By Associated Press