One of the things I have always enjoyed is watching the sun rise while drinking coffee. It often seemed like I would argue in my mind which country had the most beautiful sunrise and why. I realize I like to remember the “best” memories. The good times. The times that make me smile and I enjoy what I’m experiencing.
The Tian Shan mountains through Kyrgyzstan would glow in the mornings like they were a giant pile of orange and purple glass. The sunbeams would bounce off the snowtops and sparkle like something you would see in a JRR Tolkein film. I’d sip instant coffee while the locals would argue who had the worst tasting chalap. I have a buddy who fell in love with a girl from the nearby city of Bishkek. They got married before we left our assignment and they are still together to this day.
Kuwait had sunrises that would make you think you were looking at a Bob Ross painting. The colors of the clouds always changed depending on how the sun hit them. In Kuwait City while assigned to the airport I got hooked on Dunkin Donuts coffee again. In Delaware where I grew up, you really couldn’t beat Dunkin. This was before Starbucks came along and sold overpriced burnt coffee. Dunkin Donuts is my jam and we got a big box of it for our awesome group. Back in those days it was just a tiny discreet collection of trailers and we would sit and watch for hours, waiting for our bird to land. Hours of waiting, minutes of rushing around and following checklists. Back to waiting. I loved it. Every second of it. Plus I had Dunkin Donuts coffee. Years later that tiny outpost became a bustling passenger terminal.
Sunrises over the horn of Africa were a different sight. I would gaze at the glowing mirage over the ocean during my morning runs after working through the night. It would look like the sun was rising out of a pool of molten lava. As disgusting and polluted as the water was in Djibouti, it made for a really awesome looking sunrise. It’s incredible how beautiful toxic water looks when you’re gazing at the proper angle toward it. I think we might all agree on that.
Now I wake up early most Sundays and quietly watch the sun come up while my dog runs around and barks at leaves like an asshole. She has her reasons I suppose.
I think about the priceless opportunities I have had over the years, watching the sun rise. I think about how at the time those sunrises didn’t mean much to me and I could have cared less about the tasks I was responsible for performing. It wasn’t until years later I realized the value of the work I put in while admiring sunrises throughout the world. Those sunrises connect me to many times in my life where I was in many places. It’s a way for me to mentally categorize sections of my life, my education and my career. It is effective for me to connect the sunrise occurring in front of me with the sunrises I now value and treasure the most. Even though at the time, I didn’t know it.
Those times I paused and looked up at the sky I might have been in an airport or a village or on a mountain. I might have been providing immediate security over an aircraft or a person. I might have been overseeing foreign aid being handed out, knowing Damn well it would end up in the wrong hands. I might have been checking IDs at an entry control point questioning why there are so many people named John in this world.
I can even reflect on early mornings I would be getting my uniform on for another ass ripping for doing something with my friends on post that we knew was dangerous and stupid but was really fun. I mean come on, you gave me a fourwheeler, a full tank and a grid full of towns to patrol. What else was I supposed to do?
Nowadays I appreciate mornings sitting here in front of my house ignoring my dog and enjoying a fresh cup of coffee. I enjoy reflecting on these memories and how they have helped guide me (the real me) home to where I’m now happy. I encourage everyone reading this to find a common theme in your life that allows you to reflect on times you may not have been the happiest but over time you found tremendous value in although you didn’t realize it at the time.
You’re Welcome. Internet.