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Ava Beredo

Grade: 11

Hathaway Brown School

Instructor: Scott Parsons

The Fleeting Beauty of the Sky

Personal Essay/Memoir

The Fleeting Beauty of the Sky

When I was in seventh grade, my dad proposed watching the solar eclipse. To be completely honest, I thought he was referring to the movie because it was not a common occurrence for my family to go into the middle of a field on a Saturday and stare at the sky for an hour. Not wanting to halt my dad's excitement, I decided to watch it with him. My dad bought little paper sunglasses with moons on them specifically for the eclipse, and we even made a playlist to listen to while watching it. When we arrived at the park, I left my phone in the car to eliminate distractions, and we laid down the picnic blanket on the soft grass. The peak of the eclipse was coming, and we all put on our glasses, and the sky and field darkened. A collective gasp prefaced the moon's accumulation of a majestic glow with sun rays radiating from the edges. Although it only lasted a few minutes, I remember this years later because seeing such a beautiful, natural, and peaceful scene with my family made me feel a sense of calm I had never experienced before.

The following year at my school's fall festival, I suggested to my friends that we ride the hayride. Due to its overwhelming popularity, however, waiting in the line would take us the whole afternoon, so we decided to wait until later. As the sun set, people began to leave, the noise of the crowd was slowly replaced by the crickets of the night. My friends and I climbed into the rickety wagon and sat down in the hay. As I leaned my head back I breathed in the night air and closed my eyes, and when I opened them I was met with an explosion of stars, much more than the ones I would see in my neighborhood. I was awestruck, how could such a beautiful gift be given to us each night to enjoy, but we don't appreciate it? I reached for my phone and held the camera up to the sky, and was surprised when nothing translated to the screen but a few dots with a navy background. I realized that this was a beauty that could not be explained, photographed on my phone, or saved for later. It was only a type of beauty that could fully be appreciated in the moment.

As I moved into high school, I felt my time I could spend admiring the little things in life was replaced with a surplus of tasks. Whether it was studying for an exam, finishing homework, facetime my friends, or going to practice, I was constantly busy, ending the days late into the night. I have often complained about living so far away from school, because I need to wake up much earlier and I get home hours after school ends. To this my mom asked me if I watched the sunrises every morning. No, I replied, surprised by my neglectful mind. I spent the time on the bus sleeping, or being on my phone. This was one of the first times I recognized that hours of my precious time that I claimed I didn't have enough of was being filled with mindless tasks. With the hustle of everyday life, the time I could use to be enjoying the little things was sucked up by my phone. The very next day I chose a seat in the front so I could look out the big windshield to get the best view. I intentionally put my phone at the bottom of my bag, buried under the collection of books I needed for school. Without the distraction of my phone, my eyes met the spectacular array of colors in the sky. If I hadn't been fully awake before, now I was. I admired the watercolor sky, changing from navy and pale blues to bright oranges and pinks, the slow transitioning of the hues left me with a sense of peace that I carried with me throughout my whole day.

Through the act of bringing sky gazing into my life, I have more time to think and appreciate the fleeting beauties of life. Taking a photo or describing a sunset will not capture the way that you feel when you took the photo, there are some moments whose beauty lies in its temporary nature. When watching the sky I was overcome with a sense of calm, one that felt like a deep breath after diving under the waters of worries. As I noted, these feelings cannot be captured in the contents of a photo or device like the one you are reading this on now. So go learn to enjoy the present, put down this essay and go watch nature's free light show.