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The Prospector

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The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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The sun also sets and rises

Photo courtesy Eric Vasquez

I’m going to get a bit Meta today. We spent the evening on the steps of La Basilique du Sacré Cœur, a Catholic church. It was built on the summit of Montmartre, the highest point in Paris. Here, people bring booze and baguettes to watch the sun set over the splay of the city below them while musicians take turns playing in front of a microphone setup in the middle of the staircase. Behind us the basilica stands less like a church and more like an air temple, the Muslim influences of this area of Paris showing up in the architecture’s round domes and spires.

My group passes around wine bottles and snacks, and as a performer strums into his version of Bob Marley’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” the sun begins its fall under the horizon.

It is the first sunset I have sat down to watch in this hemisphere, and while doing the math to figure the time in El Paso, something clicks. I use my fist to stand for the earth, and use the classic phrase, “sun rises east and sets in the west” to visualize what exactly is happening.

It is the close of a day here in Paris, but in El Paso it is about to reach two in the afternoon; the same sun melting into red on my horizon is peaking to white-hot in America.

“No shit dude, that’s how the solar system works.”

Maybe, dear reader, you are right, learning this from our textbooks makes this point blatantly obvious, but it is not until you see it happening and you feel yourself situated on the ball of dirt that the concept becomes physical, moving beyond the lumps of colored clay and wires set up in a shoebox and into the titanic spheres orbiting around the sun. Maybe I missed this day in geography class and the rest of you are much more enlightened than I am, but when this clicked, I extended my sight beyond the Parisian horizon not just to El Paso…

But to the jungles of South America and the pinpoint villages tucked away in the Faroe Islands. If life goes on in El Paso, which it does, then as I polished off a wine bottle, my father is was just finishing up lunch at his office.

In the second that I sat on the steps of Sacré Cœur, a lunatic planned his assault on a crowd of people in a nightclub and Donald Trump’s existence continued for another second more. In the same second, millions of emotions, deaths, new lives, break-ups and confessions of love, moments of heroism and terrorism, laughter and despair happened all around the planet—all happening under a sun that sets and rises all day long.

You could say that we are all connected (in a way) by sunburns.

Eric Vasquez may be reached at [email protected].



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The sun also sets and rises