The Path of Totality — A few months ago, I would have thought that was the title of the latest Star Wars movie or maybe the name of a new reality show featuring ninja warriors against knife wielding iron chefs. But since a very small portion of northeast Kansas happened to be in “the Path”, and that very small portion also happened to be right where two of my kids go to college, and the eclipse was scheduled to take place the day after drop-off day — I was there! Right in the middle of it all, with the glasses, gazing up, waiting for darkness—enjoying the whole experience with millions of my closest friends. And yes, it was amazing, emotional, profound. But not just for the obvious reasons.
So here’s what happened. It was a dark and stormy day… (I am a writer after all.) The clouds were thick and the rain set in. But students took to the football field while others of us waited with bag chairs and umbrellas. One older man even used his bag chair as an umbrella. We all remained optimistic but as it got closer to the time of the eclipse, the clouds were full-on in every direction. We were going to miss it.
Someone announced the one-minute mark. Clouds. 30 Seconds. Clouds. 10 seconds. And I kid you not, one small window opened up, allowing for a brief but amazing view of the partial eclipse as it slipped into “totality,” and the world went dark and very quiet. We watched. We listened. We took it all in.
And for me, the tears came. Not just because the moon covered the sun or because day turned to night for two minutes and 19 seconds, stunning as that was. The part that I found particularly amazing, emotional, profound was the act of sharing it with others— this very uncommon experience that we were having in common.
With so many different devices, channels, venues, how often do we have the opportunity to really experience something together. Where you don’t have to worry about who can afford to attend or who gets the good seats. You don’t have to have the updated device or the right viewing package. All you have to do is step outside and look up. It was an experience open to all.
So, the next opportunity to view a total eclipse will be April 8, 2024. But the way I see it, even without my certified ISO 12312-2 solar viewing glasses, I don’t have to wait that long. I can go to the Y and visit with the older gentlemen who greet me as I walk in each morning. Or I can go to the grocery store or church or the park or anyplace else where paths tend to cross. August 21, 2017 was a special day. I was in the path. But August 22nd is looking pretty good too. Here’s hoping our paths cross.