You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy™
A Total Solar Eclipse.
It’s a celestial moment in time that makes the universe stop and marvel.
At 1:27 pm, on August 21st 2017, it happened. God punched the cosmic time clock with an emphatic reminder that he is supremely powerful.
Like helpless ants, humanity stood in awe, our mouths agape, our NASA approved glasses stuck on our faces, peering at the cosmic dance above us.
As I watched the moon gobble up the sun like a lunar pac man, I thought about our insignificance in the universe.
Every day celestial forces dance around us like invisible cat burglars. They control our lives with imperceptible force, yet they don’t harm a hair on our heads. The massive vortex of swirling gravitational construct is so encompassing, it literally binds our molecules together and breathes life into our beings. It happens every millisecond of life, and yet we barely think of what keeps this ball of kinetic energy from spinning off into the ether.
If it were not for this invisible ballet of gravitational splendor, everything we know would just float off the face of the planet in a weightless spectacle, then implode like a jelly fish under the weight of an atomic pressure cooker.
As I stand on this rooftop, filled with children shrieking and hotel guests getting liquored up, I watch the moon begin to cover the face of the sun. It’s at this moment that I have an epiphany.
We are specks of dust in a cosmic play that is so enigmatic, so mind bending, humans can only guess at what the purpose truly is.
Think about this. The Earth is flying around the sun at 18 miles a second. Our home planet is spinning on its axis at 1,000 miles an hour. The Moon is orbiting this insane cosmic train wreck at close to 3,000 miles an hour. What’s happening all around us is the equivalent of throwing a dumpster full of toothpicks into Hurricane Harvey and predicting where they will all end up.
Yet, somehow, this universal jig saw puzzle with more pieces than Pi makes sense.
“Isn’t it amazing,” the little lady from L.A. says to me, staring at the blossoming spectacle in the sky.
“It sure is,” I reply.
“I’ve been scoping out this corner of the pool since yesterday,” she says in a whisper just audible enough to hear over the constant din of moon music chosen by the bar staff. “The sun will be right over there at totality,” she says pointing to a section of sky just west of the massive over hang that covers half of the pool deck.
I quickly surmise that to see the lunar eclipse, all 200 people at 1:27 pm are going to crowd into this corner, pressed upon one another in a fleshy pile of chlorinated humanity.
A feeling of claustrophobia invades my thoughts.
I stare at the sun through my dark glasses. The moon is beginning to eclipse the face of the sun.
I think about the mathematical insanity of this moment.
Man has known this is going to happen for decades. People with brains and slide rules much bigger than mine, predicted this moment years ago.
Everyone of these guests, gathered at this high priced viewing platform, used that incredible calculation and booked a room in this high priced hotel.
Talk about a universal spider web intersecting at a precise moment in time. Like a spacial slot machine with a million tumblers all spinning randomly and coming up Westin Hotel on August 21st at 1:27 pm, the universe brought all these life forces to this precise filament of time.
“I booked a year in advance,” the little woman from L.A. tells me with alacrity.
I think about that statement as I survey the pool deck. People are toasting one another as if it is New Year’s eve. There is no talk of politics or a wall or Immigration or Charlottesville. There is only talk of wonderment and hope and the amazing gift that we call life.
I will spend the next 3 hours roaming this rooftop vista, talking to people in cabanas and those luxuriating pool side. I will hear many dialects far removed from a southern drawl. I discuss life with a man from Ireland and a woman from the Dominican Republic. I talk to a Puerto Rican and a New Yorker with an accent so thick, it’s the auditory equivalent of World War I mustard gas.
As the sun sparkles like diamonds in a surreal blue sky, I decide the world has no borders today. We are all humans at this moment, seeking something in this fabric of forever. We are standing upon this flying orb, sling-shotting around the sun, harnessed to gravitational forces most of us don’t understand and none of us ever think of.
But today, right now, it is awe inspiring.
As more bodies begin to move to my location at the north end of the pool deck to get a better position to watch the celestial light show, I think about our prehistoric cousins.
As the moment of totality commences, and the temperature drops, and the eerie shadow of night envelopes the planet, I understand how someone with less scientific knowledge could be supremely frightened.
As the light is extinguished, and night consumes the day, I can see how primitive man could light spears and throw them at the moon, trying to reignite the fire of life that so mysteriously was snuffed out.
And then there is totality. On top of the tallest rooftop bar in Nashville, closer to the sky than just about anyone else watching, we stand in unison, our insignificance on display.
I look at this cosmic spectacle and try and put it into terms I can understand. For 2 minutes the Earth, the Moon and the Sun are playing hide and go seek at 18,000 miles an hour.
We are fleas on an elephant’s back, sneaking a ride on planetary romp through the cosmos.
At this moment, I don’t care about my house payment or neighborhood squabbles or petty inconveniences.
As I stand in this prestine setting, I am filled with an ethereal wonderment. I am filled with hope for humanity. I am filled with belief that there must be a purpose.
I am glad that someone with a brain bigger than mine explained this planetary moment to me. Otherwise, I would consider this moment dark, perhaps ominous. Without the knowledge of science to understand the astrophysical moment encompassing us, why wouldn’t I be scared?
2 minutes ago there was sun. Now? I am in a creepy shadow descending across the planet like a cryptic plague. This lunar shadow inhaled the light, in such an abnormal way, animals went to sleep, bugs dipped back into their hive, automatic light sensors activated all across the city.
I wash these thoughts from my mind as I snap pictures of the man from Ireland toasting his goblet of nectar. I look at the little lady from L.A.
“Wow!,” she exclaims.
The sight is so overwhelming, the human brain can only muster a single syllable to describe it.
It’s really the most appropriate word.
AUGUST 21ST 2017
At this moment in the calendar of life, millions of people, From Oregon to South Carolina, will always be able to say precisely where they were and exactly how they felt.
There are only a few moments like this in life.
The birth of your first child. Your first sexual experience with someone other than yourself. The first time you stole your dad’s car and ran from the law.
Yes these are all lasting and memorable experiences, and now the Solar Eclipse is also tattooed into the cerebral cortex of your memory.
As it is with every moment, there is a beginning, middle and end.
And so it is with the Solar Eclipse.
I watch curiously as the moment passes from awe inspiring to been there done that.
As totality diminishes and light returns, people lose interest. Children have taken to the infinity pool, their once hard to find solar glasses, now bobbing in the water like spent confetti.
The man from Ireland is back in his cabana sipping a whiskey drink while the Beatles Here Comes The Sun, becomes the soundtrack of this moment.
The build up for months, even years, is over. The dazzling spectacle of God’s mysteriously complex plan is a grand slam of the highest order.
I look at the little lady from L.A. She pulls off her dark shades and smiles. “That was amazing!”
As we spin through the galaxy at incredible speed, experiencing force so great upon us we don’t even realize it, I know the little lady from L.A. is correct.
It was amazing.