Ode to an Eclipse

I set an alarm and stepped out of my research lab. It felt that important.

On this blistering hot day, in the middle of my university campus in East Los Angeles, armed with a pinhole poked through an index card I stood at 245 PM and took it in.

A partial solar eclipse. The sun looked as though a tiny bite had been taken out of it. Solar goggles showed it to be a dark shadow taken out of a corner of the sun. The world wasn’t darkened, and if you didn’t know it was happening, you wouldn’t notice the difference.

As I drank in that eclipse I mused on alignment and timing and how the planets and stars and moons sometimes find themselves on the same page. Mused on wonder. Mused on how the ancients would take note, and take awe in the fact that their touchstones were transmogrified – if only for a moment.

No one took notice of me – the nutty professor with her index cards and childlike glee. As I carefully looked up, enjoying this cosmic alignment, I noticed that they remained transfixed by smartphones. Missing an eclipse (despite me telling them about it) in the name of text messages and the latest cat video sent to them via Facebook.

I wonder if we as a species haven’t lost our sense of wonder. Eclipses are wonderful. Shooting stars are wonderful. Harvest moons are wonderful. But to see them requires looking up, not down.

Far too often people attempt to partake of wonder solely to document it rather than to experience it. Sunsets on Instagram, selfies at the Grand Canyon. Wonder is meant to be cherished and experienced, not captured. Even if no one else sees it, it still happened.

How did our early ancestors get this so much better than us? Obviously they didn’t have iPhones. But perhaps they realize that they were in a relationship with this thing called the Earth and the cosmos. They needed it and so they worshipped it, they noticed it, they feared it, they didn’t take advantage of it, they took what they needed and didn’t try to take more.

As a psychologist who works with couples and folks with mega-relationship problems, I know one thing for sure. If you want to lose a relationship – neglect it. When you stop noticing your partner, when you stop building in a moment to share a kiss or a poem, when you start taking advantage of them, when you stop seeing the wonder – the relationship slowly dies. We tend to neglect the things that are the most steady in our lives, and shift our attention to frivolity and ego. So perhaps the eclipse is also a life lesson – to take a moment to notice that which is beautiful and unique and solid in your universe.

This takes us to another relationship – our relationship with our natural world. The eclipse is a reminder of the elegant rhythms of this natural world which sustains us. When I see how blithely and dismissively we treat this planet of ours –I muse over whether the planet is behaving like a wronged partner. Wronged partners tend to pull away – perhaps this is being evidenced via climate change, species extinction, dying oceans, melting icecaps. Every so often she throws a tantrum to get our attention (think mega hurricane, earthquake), but we just clean up the mess, get scared, apologize for a minute, and go back to neglecting her.

An eclipse could be a wakeup call to look up, and remember that this planet is a temporary home and part of something far larger which deserves to be noticed. It gives us perspective, reminds us not to sweat the small stuff, to take a minute and unplug, to pay attention, and that there is still wonder out there.

Mother Nature – thanks for the front row seat.

I look forward to an encore.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 3:33 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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