Sunsets in Recovery: Something I can’t explain with science

dawn sunset beach woman
Photo by Pixabay on

It has been a massive week. HUGE! Usually I would have written this post a few days ago and then spent a couple of days editing it. This week I am late and there will be no time for editing. Straight from my brain to the page.

It has been a massive week because of work, but also because we went away for the weekend. One thing I appreciate very much since getting sober, and something that seems to be pretty common among those in recovery, is an appreciation of nature. So I was really looking forward to going away for the weekend, getting away from the traffic and busyness of the city, and spending some time in nature. Unfortunately it rained pretty much the whole weekend.

Today was sunny though, and as I was hanging out the washing I turned around to see the most beautiful sunset, and took a few moments to appreciate it. This is something I don’t remember ever doing when I was drinking – back then it was as if I just didn’t notice the world around me. Possibly I simply wouldn’t have been out hanging washing at that time because I would have been inside drinking, so I just didn’t have the same opportunities to appreciate nature. Now if I’m angry, or frustrated, or just feeling waaaaay too many emotions (y’all in recovery know what I’m talking about!), taking a walk and getting among nature is right up there as one of the best things I can do to work out those stresses, along with exercise and writing about it.

Going for a walk has saved me from drinking a number of times. I remember the first BBQ I went to after I got sober, and I found myself getting really agitated. Everyone was fine (my friends actually accept the fact that I don’t drink anymore – they are far more grown up than I ever used to be) but I was getting antsy. Then I thought, why not just go for a walk? So I did. I walked and walked and walked until I stopped on a bridge, and saw the most spectacular sunset I had ever seen. It was mesmerising. It even made me understand for a second why people could feel that there was a higher power guiding them, sending them messages and so on.

When I saw that spectacular sunset in early recovery, I certainly felt a sense of connection with nature, but for me this was not necessarily spiritual. I am sure there is a scientific reason out there for this feeling, and that it is discoverable, but I haven’t come across it myself. Indeed at the time, I tried to think of scientific ways I could make sense of this connection. For example, I reasoned that everything in nature is connected in a sense, as everything living shares a certain amount of DNA. But the sun doesn’t have DNA. And even for things that do, what is the mechanism by which shared DNA might make us feel connected?

At the end of the day though (see what I did there? The end of the day! That is when we see the sunset!!! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha. Just me? OK just me), it doesn’t matter why. It doesn’t matter what the mechanism is, the most important thing is that we feel that awe of nature, or some type of connection when we need to. And that we don’t pick up, of course.

So that’s it for this week. No ‘sciencey bits’ as I really have no knowledge of any science that speaks to the fact that we didn’t notice nature in addiction but do in recovery, and I haven’t had time to research any. Happy to hear about it if anyone knows of any studies? Or your personal theories! I’m super busy so I can’t promise extremely detailed responses, but I will read I promise.

Have a great week 😀


2 thoughts on “Sunsets in Recovery: Something I can’t explain with science

  1. I got clean in Oct 2003 and in April 2004 I noticed the beautiful cherry blossoms on the trees. I was 42 years of age and I would have sworn in a court of law that I had never seen them before. A couple of months later a pink rose appeared in my garden and I had never seen anything so pink or so beautiful in my life. I called to my partner to witness this and she told me they come out every year and I could only reply”I have never seen that before” I think she perhaps thought I was back on the drugs. In the 12 step programme we call this a spiritual experience. You can call it what you like but just enjoy it. Best wishes in your recovery journey


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