I am a colony… as are you. We each contain more tiny living things than stars we can count. Those things live and die, but somehow we remain (despite that fact that we’re constantly being recreated).
There are times when we feel that nothing ever changes. There are also times when you suddenly realize that you’ve just become another person, fundamentally different and forever altered from the one you were before. Becoming a parent can have this effect. An irreversible mistake or an injury might be the stimulus, as might a lottery jackpot or (much more likely) a lightning strike. Some of these things take a while to sink in. But there’s one event in my life that separated the new and old me in a fraction of a second: The moment of totality during the 2017 total solar eclipse.
Imagine a large hole appearing in the sky and another universe pouring in around it.
I thought I’d prepared my entire life to witness a total solar eclipse. I found myself explaining what was happening to people around me, and “explaining” was about to happen. As the moment approached, I noticed dog hide under a car. Among the many things I couldn’t have know was that this dog was offering a better indication of what was about to happen that I ever could. As I started my various cameras, the light became “other worldly”. But, this was predictable and expected.
Then: The Moment. The one that divided me from me, and revealed an undivided world of worlds.
I removed my mylar glasses, and looked up at something like nothing my experience or imagination could have come close to. I felt the scale of It All: The planet, the solar system, the universe. I felt every hair on the surface my body, and in a very similar way, my body on the surface of a planet. Imagine a large hole appearing in the sky and the universe pouring in around it. Without meaning to, I made a sound like something between a laugh and a sob. My daughter said she felt torn between an urge to dance and wanting to curl-up in a ball and hide. The dog had known.
When suddenly it was over, and the ordinary world resumed, it felt like I’d been given a behind-the-scenes peek at reality, and then been made to watch as it was hidden behind drab curtains or a roller blind. To know how it feels to see behind the false impression of an ordinary every-day sky is to become a new person, suddenly, and as permanently as our kind of lives will allow. We are made of the stuff you can only see behind that facade, But we can go our entire lives without actually knowing this by the way it feels.