Total Eclipse of the Heart
Are You Having a Total Eclipse of the Heart?
I know I promised to write about “The Paradox of Choice” this month, but I couldn’t
resist the timeliness of the recent total solar eclipse and a lesson that may relate to my
life and yours.
My eclipse experience started on Sunday, August 20th when I rose early to catch a ride
with family to Hendersonville, NC. We scoped out potential viewing sites and chose
Gorges State Park, which is located in the “Zone of Totality.” We were instructed to
arrive around 5am the next day so that we would be assured of a place to park. So, the
day of the eclipse started at 2:45am with arrival at Gorges at 4:45am. We did our best to
pick a good spot in the dark and then hunkered down to start the big wait for the big
Gorges State Park did an absolutely AWESOME job managing the steady flow of
people. The cars arrived for a solid five hours before reaching maximum capacity. It was
amazing how the rangers answered everyone’s questions with freshness and joy as if
they hadn’t heard that very same question a thousand times already that day.
The crowd was also in a joyful mood. People chose Gorges State Park to view the
eclipse having researched extensively and travelling from all over the eastern states.
There were huge telescopes with fancy filters and cameras on tripods placed
everywhere the eye could see. There was music and laughter and sharing.
Around 1pm the eclipse began. Everyone in sight donned their special eclipse viewing
glasses or gazed through their specially equipped cameras and binoculars or brought
out their crafty viewing boxes. We got to see the classic crescent shape of the sun as
the moon passed in front of it.
And then….. and then……and then…... ? A huge rain cloud passed in front of the
sun/moon! It totally obscured what everyone there had come many miles and many
hours to see. To add insult to injury, the cloud dumped a hefty dose of rain on us – the
patient questors of celestial grandeur. What the %^&*%!!
At the time of “totality” there was no hope of that cloud moving out of the way. There
would be no witnessing the sun’s corona, the coronal streamers, the coronal loops and
prominence. (I got these out of National Geographic, so don’t quiz me!) We got plenty
of soggy “umbra,” but no brilliance.
Then a strange thing happened. At 2:36, the predicted time of complete eclipse, the
crowd began to cheer loudly. It echoed through the trees. It was the sound of complete
joy. It was the Who-s down in Whoville singing even after the Grinch attempted to steal
Christmas. It was people turning disappointment on its head and rejoicing at the wonder
of these forces of nature -whether we could see them or not.
I wonder about myself and about you, too. Am I living my life rejoicing even when a
cloud gets in the way of my well-laid plans? Or am I kicking myself for spending time
and money on something so chancy? Are we enjoying the heck out of this journey of
life? Or are we constantly moaning and groaning, complaining that life hasn’t turned out
how we’d like? Do we go to singles gatherings, Meet-ups and networking events happy
about the people we are with or are we being judgmental and critical saying that there is
“no one interesting here.”
Maybe we do a little bit of both. Rejoicing and complaining. Trusting and shrinking in
fear. Loving and disconnecting. What is so incredible is that we can 100% choose how
we respond. It may not be our natural “go to” to trust, to open our hearts, to be the one
reaching out to another person, but we can try and stumble and learn and grow and try
some more. Every one of us can.
Let this be the day/month/year where your heart doesn’t eclipse like the 1983 lyrics of
the Bonnie Tyler song. Instead let your heart celebrate life’s moments, much like the
whooping and hollering of pure joy when something magnificent is happening. That
magnificent happening is you!
-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox