Looking Up

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We all cast our own eclipse

In case any of you were wondering why the sky went mysteriously dark on Monday morning, it turns out there was a solar eclipse that drifted across the continent. Our campground was lucky enough to be right on the edge of totality, aka within the shadow of the moon.

Anticipating that no one would be needing camp host services while they were staring at the sky for two hours, I got the OK to open the office an hour late. Nick, his mom and I walked down the road to an unused boat ramp and had a wonderful time watching the moon turn the sun into a crescent and then blocking it out completely. We only saw totality for about ten seconds, but we loved every moment. We saw the mysterious shadow bands race across the pavement at our feet, watched a few stars come out in the dark blue sky and marveled at the bright ring around the dark moon.

But the eclipse itself wasn’t my favorite part. My favorite part was watching the local, state, and internet communities go crazy over this thing. The world is a beautiful place, but it seems to be getting harder for people to get excited about it. We spend all day inundated by brilliant pictures of places and things that have been digitally remastered to stand out in a sea of brilliant pictures. People are often disappointed when confronted with the real deal.

Pictures alone fail to convey the other sensory experiences that come from being in a place or experience. A picture from a mountain top might show a beautiful landscape, but it can’t convey the aching calf muscles that come from climbing to the summit, the stickiness of a sweaty shirt, the dryness in your throat from panting lungs, or the cold scent of snow on autumn winds.

During the lead up to Monday, there was so much excitement in the air! There was copious joy and laughter as my friends and family gathered, holiday style, to experience it together. It was reassuring to see everyone get stoked about a factual effect of our position in space, not the latest sci-fi movie. It was inspiring to see people researching, explaining and debating the science of the skies with each other. I was reassured by people’s drive to seek out beautiful places to experience it from. I found a glimmer of hope in humanity as everyone across the path of this event was, for at least thirty seconds, looking up in awe at the universe instead of looking down and getting depressed by their phones. That was my favorite part of the eclipse.

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