My family and I went to Winnsboro, SC to watch the totality last Monday. We had originally planned to stay in Charlotte because at 98%, that seems pretty “total” to me. But a tweeting conversation with the local weather god, Brad Panovich, convinced me that while it would be “awesome” in Charlotte, it would be a lifetime memory in totality.
So we packed up and headed to the incredibly welcoming town of Winnsboro, SC and experienced 1:20 of totality.
Wow. Seriously. WOW. I can throw some words out to explain what it was like: really, really, really awesome; beautiful; mind-blowing; unexpected; unifying; community-building; spiritual; and heart filling.
But really, it was beyond words.
But the feelings are still there. While listening to this podcast which started and ended with people’s reactions, I had the goosebumps all over again. And it was crazy to hear people from across the US having the same experiences and saying the same words my neighbors and I were.
Why did we react this way?
As a psychologist, I am very interested in the effects of people’s physical and online environments on their lives. For 99.999999% of our lives, the sun rises, we see sunshine, the sun sets, and we see dark. We’re pretty used to that rhythm.
In the solar eclipse, it got dark in the middle of the day. A dark hole in the sky had absolutely beautiful halos dancing around. In a minute, it was gone, and we were back to normal.
This short, extremely rare disruption of what is not only “normal” but what one has experienced nearly every single day of one’s life is apparently very powerful.
We know that that the disruption of normal can have powerful negative effects (e.g., Hurricane Harvey right now). Maybe the disruption of normal often means that something negative might happen.
And I’m sure on some planets with lots of moons, a solar eclipse may not be such a big deal, maybe it is even “normal.” I’ll ask the Doctor the next time I see him.
But here on earth, I’m going to propose that because a total solar eclipse is extremely rare for any one human being to experience and because it is perfectly safe, it produces a deep positive and unifying experience among the people who experience it.
I am going to the next Solar Eclipse in the states in 2024. Maybe I’ll just have to test this proposition there.