By Nikki Brock
It’s always been a cliché. Carly Simon wrote about it in her song “You’re So Vain.” Life-changing. Consciousness-altering. Once in a lifetime.
You are probably reading this on the day of the first total eclipse of the sun to visit any part of the US since 1979 and the first one seen by a significant portion of the country since 1918. The next one seen in the US will be in 2024, which is soon by astronomical standards.
I hope your life is such that you can stop for the two minutes or so the sun will be hidden from the sky and can just ponder the magnificence of the universe. Pray. Meditate. Contemplate. Just watch.
The magnificence of the universe. And here we are back to clichés. But they are clichés for a reason.
It’s the end of the world as we know it
In some ancient cultures, eclipses were viewed as a disruption of the established order. A time of terror. The sun and moon do things they are not supposed to. They stop being dependable. It’s not surprising that eclipses were sometimes interpreted as God’s wrath. People were told by their religious leaders to do something to make things right.
Hold that thought.
A thief in the, er, day
Some cultures viewed an eclipse as someone or something “eating” the sun. Vikings believed it to be sky wolves. Vietnamese thought the culprits were frogs. The Hindus believed the demon Rahu was responsible. The earliest word in Chinese for eclipse also means “eat.”
All these cultures had methods for returning the sun to the sky. Making noise. Praying. Making some sort of atonement.
Hold that thought, too.
Other cultures believed the sun was stolen, either by fire dogs or some other kind of creature that would chase the sun and manage to take a bite out of it. Fortunately, it was eventually returned to the sky whole. But people were often changed by the experience as a result.
Eclipse chasers: Astronomical Deadheads
Everyone knows about storm chasers. Evidently there are eclipse chasers.
There is a partial or total eclipse somewhere in the world every 18 months or so, and these people chase it. Astronomical Deadheads, if you will. When asked why they do it, one person said this: “It’s very … it almost is like a bit of a dreadful feeling. It’s like, “Whoa, wait a minute. What’s happening to my planet?” … It’s a topsy-turvy world. It’s not like night. It’s not like day. It’s not like twilight. It’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before.”
Restoring the Balance
There is a tribe in Togo who believe that the sun and moon are fighting during an eclipse. The people encourage the sun and moon to stop fighting. It is seen as a time to come together and resolve old feuds and anger.
Another eclipse chaser said this: “You get an overwhelming sense of humbleness and how small and petty we really are compared to the mechanics of the solar system, the clockwork of the universe. These events that are taking place, that in no way can we affect or stop. It gives us a sense of how tiny we are and yet how we’re connected to the whole system.”
Life in these Unites States has been difficult of late, no matter where your political sympathies lie. Perhaps it will be good to be pulled out of our hamster wheels a bit, even for a short time, to think about a larger picture.
The world will stop for a few minutes on Monday. Take the opportunity to reach across the aisle, shake a hand, heal an old wound, really listen to the other side. Perhaps it might be a step toward the end of the world as we currently have known it. Wouldn’t that be nice.
And don’t forget the glasses.
Nikki’s romantic suspense Smoke & Secrets: Vices Book One is available from Amazon. When not writing she’s drinking coffee, going to estate sales, or binge-watching television shows involving British accents. She lives in the Mississippi Delta with her family and two talented dogs in a diva of an old house which always needs something involving writing checks and which is home to a ghost who smokes.
He’s home to shed his destructive past. She’s back to make him atone for it.
Arson. Secrets. Betrayal.
Ross Stevenson inherited an empire and the destructive baggage to go with it. He’s back in Sharpsville, Kentucky to get rid of both and get back to his life. But his family’s sins run deep. And when a series of deliberate fires injures an old friend, he’s forced to stay until the arsonist is caught.
Dr. Mel Hathaway isn’t back in Sharpsville just to run the ER. She’s also there to find out how her father died on Stevenson land. It may not have been an accident.
For Mel and Ross the sparks fly in more ways than one. She despises how he’s made his money, and she’s stirring up trouble for both of them. She also unearthing secrets best left alone.
But as things heat up between them, Kentucky burns. Mounting evidence points to Mel, and Ross discovers she may have a reason to commit arson.