“Coolest thing EVER!” This was all I could write to describe witnessing the total eclipse of the sun yesterday. I was at a loss for words, and this happens rarely.
I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, but it occasionally does seem to reside in my lacrimal glands. Oh, I don’t cry at the usual events. I like to keep my mourning private. You may never know how much I grieve, or hurt. If something frighteningly ominous happens to a loved one, I react with research, not tears. Physical pain makes me angry, not weepy.
My leaking problem is almost always related to awe, not sadness. For me, yesterday’s total eclipse was seasoned with copious amounts of saltwater. I still can’t accurately describe the feeling, except to say humbled, and thankful, and honored that I was given the chance to experience it.
My tears seem to come at that place just past happiness, that yoga/zen spot where I feel a part of the universe; significant and yet miniscule, and so appreciative for the gift of life and the ability to witness something so truly amazing.
I have enjoyed a few such moments, beginning with the most significant, the birth of my children. There were others, as well.
Once I stood outside in a small mountain town on a cold, inky-black night. Looking up, I saw more stars than I had ever witnessed before or since. Soon, they began streaking across the sky, seeming to fall all around us. I held hands with Hubs, neither saying a word, witnessing the glory of an unexpected (to us) meteor shower that seemed like a celebratory gift from the universe. There were tears, along with an intense feeling of gratitude that I was able to experience this, and share with my life’s travel companion.
This summer I sat on a high cliff overlooking the Caribbean sea. It is a tradition on the island of Antigua that people go to this spot, Shirley Heights, on Sunday nights to watch the sunset. There are people from all over the world, sitting next to one another and experiencing together the beauty of the moment. I shared this with Hubs and lifelong friends. Yes, there were tears.
A few years ago, after Hubs was diagnosed (and cured!) of cancer, we took that dream trip to Italy that we always discussed but somehow never executed. Of course I obsessively researched and knew to take the public bus up above Florence, to a little town overlooking the whole valley. We disembarked at a village square; pretty, but where were the amazing views we sought? We trudged up a road and around the side of a brick building, and then … breathtaking. The town of Florence and surrounding countryside spread before us, gold monuments sparkling like jewels among the brick-red, terra-cotta rooftops. There was a group of college kids sitting on the ledge overlooking the stunning vista. We began talking with them, and one said they had been lingering for over three hours. “I just like to watch people’s faces as they come around the corner and see the view for the first time!” She noted that everyone takes copious amounts of pictures but that “they will never capture what it’s really like.” So smart for one so young.
My brother once told me that he thought the number of pictures taken on a journey is inversely related to the amount of fun had. I don’t know if that is true, but I am much more on the “fewer pictures” side of the equation. I tend to use my journals rather than a camera. With the ubiquitous use of cell phone cameras, I am afraid many are missing out on experiences in their never-ending quests to document things. I would rather look at something with my eyes than through a lens.
I took no pictures of the eclipse.
I think, perhaps, one of the reasons I am moving to Colorado is to have the chance to experience just a bit of those awe-inspiring moments every day. The views don’t pay the bills, or take away life’s troubles, but the mountains do seem to have a way of putting everything in perspective.
And I’ll be in Dallas, Southern Illinois or maybe Quebec in 2024, God willing.