Awe, Wonder, and Unity

Did you get to see the eclipse?

I gathered with others on the Live Oak labyrinth. We were hopeful, but realistic. The cloud cover looked pretty dense. But our hope was rewarded. The clouds opened up several times while the eclipse was happening, and when it went to totality, they parted again. We got to see the corona, and experience the darkness. When the light began returning, I was amused at the cacophony from the birds. I think they wanted to share their confusion!

I felt very lucky that I got to have this experience with others. Apparently, I’m not alone in that. Scientist  Sean Goldy and his team ran a social media experiment during the 2017 eclipse, using computers to filter millions of “tweets” related to the eclipse.

“People felt closer to others, Goldy said, during and after the eclipse. They felt humbled. They wanted to help people. Expressions of anger decreased in the Tweets, while expressions of empathy increased. ‘I’ was used less often and ‘we’ more often.” Article

It’s theorized that when we humans have an experience that makes us feel “small” — gazing up at a star-filled sky, standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon — we feel more connected with each other. This makes a sort of sense. When we feel small in the vastness of the universe, we are reminded that we are a part of humanity.

When the day turned dark during the eclipse, there was an audible human response — and it wasn’t just coming from us. People all around our area, those who work nearby, those in their backyards, had the same reaction – a mix of awe and “ohhh.”

For a moment, just about a minute long, we were having a shared experience. And we were a little bit better, because of it.

photo credit: Barbara Coldiron