Hauling a backpack cooler filled with beer and wine up the steep mountainside, along an abandoned logging road covered in tall overgrowth, I wondered if this trek to a clearing in a nearby cow pasture would be worth it, in terms of catching the solar eclipse.
We reached the side of the ridge, high above Bethel. The sun was hot as we laid out a few blankets, sliced some cheese, cracked beers, poured wine, and saluted to a peaceful, serene view and impending cosmic event, all in the presence of friends and family.
Every few minutes someone would announce how many minutes remained until “totality” or what phase of the eclipse we currently were witnessing. But, those reminders faded into the background. I kept focusing on the smiles all around me, the smell of the wide open field and mooing by the herd of cows watching us.
When 2:36 p.m. arrived, the sky darkened, the air temperature dropping by several degrees. A slight breeze swirled around us. I looked up, through my solar glasses, and stood there in utter awe of the universe. It was a surreal feeling, almost as if I was under the influence of psychedelic drugs or something, perhaps even entering a state of consciousness far beyond my own comprehension, one where you start to question anything and everything you ever considered “reality.”
Everyone in our viewing group went silent, heads pointed upward to the heavens. You could hear the sound of crickets, and of birds chipping when the sun reemerged, as if Mother Nature thought it was morning and not mid-afternoon.
In the midst of the eclipse, my friend played the Pink Floyd song “Fearless” on his smart phone. The haunting guitar chords and daydream vocals of the melody echoed in our small corner of the pasture, “You pick the place and I’ll choose the time / And I’ll climb / The hill in my own way / just wait a while, for the right day / And as I rise above the treeline and the clouds / I look down hear the sound of the things you said today…”
It was nice to “unplug” from the daily distractions and anxieties were often attribute to as “important,” where we tend to forget just how incredible it to simply exist, and being aware of how precious and surreal that existence is, especially in this modern era where we need to use reason, and also compassion, in dealing with the matters of the day.
What I took away from the eclipse was the mere fact we (everything on this planet) are simply a grain of sand on an endless beach of unknown knowledge, whether physical or spiritual. And there’s a lot of eternal beauty in that, knowing that you possess that cosmic wisdom (in and around you) as you interact with the world, and also everything beyond our home — the more you interact with the cosmos, the more it interacts with you.