“And still this emptiness persists
Perhaps this is as good as it gets
When you’ve given up the drink
And those nasty cigarettes
Now I leave the party early, at least with no regrets
I watch the sun as it comes up, I watch it as it sets
Yeah, this is as good as it gets”
~Beautiful World by Colin Hay
Its been a few days now since the eclipse. I had to think on it for a while. I had to come around to finding the words. I have seen hundreds of pictures of an eclipse. I have seen many partial eclipses. I thought I was prepared for seeing the total eclipse. I thought I understood what was going on and so the mystery was mostly removed. I had heard rumors of the way people would act when viewing the eclipse but I thought mostly those stories from from a distant time in the past where people might not have understood them. And that those thoughts seemed quaint.
That is not true.
The origin of the word eclipse is by way of french from a greek origin mean to forsake or abandon. To me this is significant. Not because I felt that we were forsaken but the ancients used this word because it was more meaningful to them then just the blocking of the light.
So the day starts early because you want to get a decent spot somewhere. You eat a little breakfast, you drink a little coffee. Drive to a town 30 miles away because they have a park where the local town library is having a viewing party. The only unusual thing about the day really is that the park is full of families and kids at 630 in the morning. Beyond that the day was unremarkable at that point.
We find a place to sit and take a wonder around the park. A couple hours into it the sun starts to slowly show a the beginnings of the eclipse. It seems to happen at a snails pace at first. We know that when it starts you have about an hour before totality.
People are very talkative. Everyone has their guard down and are being very communal. I almost wonder if there is a strange sense that the reason we all gathered in a park is because we didn’t want to be alone while we witnessed this. Groups of people gathered all over the country. Some in small family groups, some in larger settings like ours.
As totality moved closer its pace seemed to quicken. It suddenly became apparent there was no stopping this. This was a force of nature. Like a wave or a storm. It had to be witnessed and endured. I was using a welding glass to photograph the last moments of the sun. When the moment happened I was looking through the glass as the last sliver disappeared. The corona is to dim to be seen through the glass. The image went dark. I dropped the glass and was completely stunned by the sight. It was all at once the culmination of a lot of baggage I was carrying. It was different then all the pictures I’ve even seen. It was different then even the pictures I took. How can reality differ so much from the photographic evidence??
Regardless, I looked over at Heather who is in tears. I find myself in a similar state. Not sad. Not afraid. Not happy. Awestruck. It was overwhelming. Sorting out the emotions was almost distracting from the sight I was seeing.
My thoughts went to my dad…who I know would have been out to watch. I know he would have loved to see this. Part of me was there to see it for him.
The eclipse ended as fast as it occurred. The intense light was only matched by the intensity of relief felt. I suppose in a primal sense it was a relief that the sun returned but as the corona dissipated it seemed to take with it an amazing amount of stress. Anxiety about the event?…maybe. An emotional baptism to wash away the depression?…perhaps. More likely a marker to mark the end…and a new beginning.
Sitting here a few days later the image still haunts me. It was impactful to say the least. I am still not sure it meant anything. I mean it was just an act of nature and as such has no meaning other than itself. So there is no attributing to it anything of any importance here on Earth. The impact is a sense of basing, centering of thoughts and realizing our place in this universe.
I am leaving some pictures here. They are not the best I have seen of the eclipse. They are not that representative of what I actually saw. I thought it was interesting passing different colors of filters over the eclipse. But that was it…I just thought it was interesting. I knew my photos were not going to be spectacular. There was not enough time to adjust. This was a lot more about just an attempt to document the moment.
“Oh, Jesus don’t want me for a sunbeam
‘Cause sunbeams are not made like me
And don’t expect me to cry
For all the reasons you had to die
Don’t ever ask your love of me”
~Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam by Vaselines