When I failed to show sufficient enthusiasm about the upcoming eclipse a friend of mine gave me a link to a Ted Talk about why everyone should view a total eclipse at least once in their life. The man in the Ted Talk described his experience the first time he saw a total eclipse. He described what could only be a spiritual experience, a connection with The Universe that he'd never felt before, as this unique occurrence of nature was shared with others. He said he wasn't a spiritual person, but that this experience touched him so much he was sharing with everyone he could that they should experience it too.
This Ted Talk did not have the affect my friend hoped it would! It did clarify for me what bothered me about all the hype regarding the eclipse. The eclipse this man experienced was indeed an awesome thing, but it was the connection he felt with The Universe that was what he was talking about. He felt that connection during an eclipse, and so felt that there is some magic in an eclipse. But can't a person feel that same connection with The Universe watching an ordinary sunset? Or sitting on an ocean beach? Or watching hummingbirds dance in the sky?
My spiritual path has been to find this connection with The Universe every day, not just during the exceptional parts of life, but while doing the mundane things of life. I want that connection all of the time. With that path before me I've spent a lot of time this summer sitting in my front yard, bare feet on the Earth, listening, watching, reading, being.
|Ray's Pondering Chair|
And so the day of the eclipse came upon us and I found myself outside sitting in my chair, a cup of coffee within reach, and my dog close by. My chair is facing away from the morning sun and I chose not to move it. While everyone seemed to think the big show of the eclipse was happening by staring at the sun, I learned long ago not to do such foolish things. Special glasses or not... looking into the sun isn't smart. Besides, I felt the bigger show was to observe the rest of the world around me. I knew I'd see pictures after the fact of the sun and moon in much greater detail than I could ever hope to see with my own eyes, but who would take pictures of the rest of my world during those moments? Nobody! So that is where I focused my attention.
Where I live in Western Washington we didn't get a total eclipse, but we did get, I think, 93% or 94% of the sun blocked out. During the hour before the maximum eclipse I observed it getting dimmer and dimmer. We have a lot of dark days here in Western Washington, but this was unlike anything we experience in normal life. It was dark, yet the sun was still shining down from above, everything still cast a shadow. In contrast, during "ordinary" dark days where the sky is filled with cloud cover, there is no sun in the sky and there are no shadows. Just darkness. It wasn't anything that resembled evening, either. As evening approaches and it gets darker and darker the sun casts long shadows until everything is swallowed up by the shadow of the Earth as the sun passes over the horizon.
This wasn't that. It was dark, yet the sun was still high in the sky. It was dark, yet the sun still cast shadows. My friend Bruce described it best in his blog post in The Mountain News when he said: "the darkness had a brightness to it that was incongruous".
My dog didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary. Nor did the cat. But the birds noticed. I'm used to hearing the background music of birds flying around and singing. As the peak eclipse approached they all went quiet, with the exception of the chickens someone has on the next block over. they were raising quite the fuss. But the chickens quieted down after a while, when it started getting brighter again, and then the other birds started resuming their usual mid-morning activities.
I did not observe the bees or other insects during my two hours outside, but I'm told by people who have bees that as the eclipse darkened the skies the bees returned to their hives.
Isn't it interesting how the insects and animals in nature who had no advance knowledge of the eclipse reacted to it just the same? I feel this is because their day to day survival requires them to be aware of their surroundings. The bees returned to their hives just as they would prior to evening or a rainstorm. The birds also reacted. Yet my dog and cat didn't even notice. But then again, my dog and cat are fed and have a warm place to sleep regardless of what goes on outdoors. As such, perhaps they've lost more of their connection with nature than we realize.
And people... how far removed from nature are we? We're so stupid we have to be told not to look into the sun. I saw facebook posts of people asking if they should keep their pets indoors during the eclipse so they wouldn't be blinded by looking into the sun. Really? Are there actually people THAT stupid to think that their pets are dumb enough to stare directly into the sun? Yes, there are!
And while everyone else was busy staring into the sun to find some connection with The Universe... I was siting in my chair watching the rest of the show. It was an interesting show. It was a weird show. I'd love to do it again where I can experience a total eclipse. I enjoyed myself. I felt Mother Earth through my bare toes. I spent two hours breathing outside air and enjoying the company of my dog. I'm not sure that I felt any more connection to The Universe than I usually do during my morning time outdoors. But I certainly felt less connection with the insanity of the people around me. I'm not sure if that puts me ahead of most people... or behind most people... or just on a different path.
Hey... it's been a long time since I've posted on my blog or updated my website. There are reasons for all of that but I think I'll be posting more soon. No promises though. :)