It's curious isn't it?
It happens every day except people everywhere, of all backgrounds, kings, paupers, lawyers, low-borns, the blessed, and the burdened, we all turn to the east to watch the sun rise.
I had the pleasure, the great honour in fact, to watch the sun rise today over Navarra. I say great pleasure but I really mean a great privilege.
There are many more people everywhere that did not have the same luxury. That's the curious thing about it, it's not a luxury, it's just quotidian fact.
The sun will rise every day, always, as long as there is an earth, the sun will rise. This is fact.
Yet there is something about this enormous ball of fire and gas rising on the horizon that will make us all turn, acknowledge it and admire it or at the very least appreciate it. It's full of promise, and life, and hope.
I feel what, blessed? I guess that's the word one uses when on a catholic pilgrimage. I feel blessed that I got to watch the sun rise in the east, in Navarra, in Spain. Because many of my forebears did not get to do that. Like one day, I will not see another sunrise, ever.
One day I will not exist and on those days, for there will be many, I hope someone, somewhere looks east and thinks of me and keeps me in their memory.
Today, I thought of my cousin Salvador (a sweet coincidence). He's not really a cousin though, he was the son of one of my mum's aunts, so what is that? A second cousin?
Anyway, he is no longer alive. I met him all of two times - but there was something about him that I will never forget. In fact there is something about him that is or was distinctly me.
I met him when I was 11, I remember that he was on a hammock and I literally just walked past and said hello. I remember that he was beautiful and he had these beautiful, remarkable eyes.
He was a very good looking man, very active, he was a rock climber or some sort of mountaineer in his spare time. From memory he was also a teacher.
He was very handsome, very handsome. And for an 11 year old me that was just discovering that he liked boys in the same way his contemporaries liked girls, he confused me.
No I didn't want to fuck my second cousin but it confused me that he had some sort of animal magnetism that attracted me to him. Maybe it wasn't his looks after all but the fact that he was gay, which he was, and I was, and I am.
I believe that us gays can find each other anywhere and maybe we were just finding each other, like-for-like.
I think of him often, I think of what his life would be like, I think about wether we would have been friends, whether we would have a lot in common. I think of having a drink with him, I think of wether he would like me, or approve of me, of whether he had anything to teach me or I him. I think of wether he would approve of my romantic failures or approve of my successes.
He made a mark, even though our encounters were fleeting. And long ago I resolved to visit his grave one day just to tell him that I was proud of him, to tell him that his life, albeit short, was not in vain and that someway, somehow, he can trust me to live it in lieu of him. That he can be confident that I will honour him when I get to see things that he did not get to see.
Like the sunrise over Navarra in 2017.
Salvador died of an AIDS related illness. He was young, my age probably, and terrified, I imagine.
Terrified that when he died in the early 90s in El Salvador, HIV was a death sentence, as sure as the sun rising in the east. He would have had to live his life very much in the closet until after virus that decimated that his immune system outed him as a faggot, unclean, dirty, deviant, depraved.
He did not get to see the sun rise in Navarra in the east or set over La Rioja in the west, like me, today in 2017. He did not get to listen to the church bells of Logroño close the autumn harvest festival like me, today.
Salvador had a life cut short by an illness we seldom understood when he died but are now working to eradicate during my own lifetime.
Fear not, my cousin, or second cousin, or friend.
I am here, and as long as I have breath in my lungs and blood through my veins, your memory and your life, and your radiant eyes will never be forgotten.
This sunrise over Navarra, where the sun shone and rose in the east like the most perfect fiery ball. The sun that had thousands in Spain and everywhere turn to it, to salute and welcome a new day. This sunrise today I dedicate to you. For you are always in my heart.
I prayed the rosary today. Not because I'm religious but because it's a great walking meditation. Instead on reflecting on the mysteries of the ascension of the Virgin Mary (which, obviously didn't' happen) I reflected on the earth, and the sun as celestial bodies and keepers of our very human lives.
I reflected on the rising sun and my steady walking pace, I reflected on the turning earth and my place within it. No one person, alive or dead can, will or could ever outrun the sun and it's movement across the sky. No person can stop the earth turning.
The sun will rise, it will set and it will do this until there is no more time. The sun cannot be outrun, not with my steady pace or a sprint or any other such thing.
The earth will keep on turning around and we are nothing but a speck of dust, a blink, a wrinkle. Our problems and our demons pale in comparison to the mighty sun rising in the east and he earth turning beneath our feet.
My problems, my insecurities about my abilities, my dislike of parts of me or all of me, my visceral hate for inequality and unfairness, my fear of never being good enough for my partner, my sadness at being too much for my family and my worry of failing my friends, or my sorrow at falling short of expectations. My sadness of my trauma and my joy at overcoming it. My inability to forget, let alone forgive. My hate of religion and my embrace of reason. The people that I like or the people that don't like me.
All of that pales in comparison to the mighty sun rising in the east. Because no person alive or dead, that there was or ever will be can outrun the sun.
No one can outrun the sun.
So - what matters is the kindness you give and the love you project and the love you receive and the fears that you feel and overcome.
No one can outrun the sun, not even me, not today or ever.
The sun will rise in the east, that's the only constant.
So live your life so that someone, somewhere can remember you as the sun rises.