Many years ago I watched a total solar eclipse.
At the time I was in England, working as a national sales manager. I spent my working week on the road visiting and taking care of problems for customers. I only went into the office one day per week and planned my schedule around a mix of their needs and our objectives.
Expense accounts, it turns out, are awesome.
Work hard, play hard. I had wiggle room. Because I knew my job, on the day of this total eclipse I arranged to spend the night in a hotel in Cheddar Gorge. Yes, that’s where the cheese originally came from. Cheddar Gorge is well named: It’s a huge crack in the earth, home to a cave system well worth exploring. But that’s another story. Still, check it out. You won’t be disappointed. I wasn’t.
On this day I had arranged to be above the earth rather than below. Atop the platform known as Jacob’s Ladder. It’s an observation tower similar to those used by wildlife rangers in the movies. As planned, I got there early. First come, first served, as I knew from a phone call. Always being an early riser and having planned for this event long in advance, I was first. 13 others (I counted) joined me, that being all the platform held. We stood shoulder to shoulder chatting and chittering excitedly about the upcoming event. And then it happened.
Despite expectations, the world does not go entirely dark during a total eclipse. The sun still shines around the moon, because atmosphere and physics. Rather, twilight descends. Birds, confused, stop singing. Insects stop chirping. The sky darkens. And the sun disappears.
It was like being atop this tower at dusk. Where only moments before had been day. Birds and insects were not the only ones confused. Cows in a nearby field fell silent. And so did we. A hush fell. Conversation ceased. Cameras clicked. And then the world turned.
As rapidly as it had left, sunlight began to return to the sky. And with it, sounds. Cows. Insects. Birds. Conversation hesitantly began again. We made our ways down the tower, back to our vehicles and our daily lives. I drove on to my next appointment, eight hours distant. The moment was gone.
And that, I have reflected oh so many times in the years since, was a problem.
Sharing Is Caring
Despite the presence of others with me atop Jacob’s Tower, I experienced this celestial event alone. I missed my partner of the moment. I discovered later that talking about it later is just not the same. Their eyes glaze over. Nobody pats you on the head, but it feels that way. Patronized. Yes, dear. To truly share an experience, you need to truly share it. Together.
Which is why I have booked April 8 2024 as a vacation day.
I aim to watch the 2024 total eclipse from an as yet unknown hill top, Somewhere In Niagara, holding hands with Nikki and watching as shadow rolls across the land. We do not yet know exactly where. Simply that we will spend those few minutes of wonder, in silence. Together. We will share the moment. There may be a camera.
This time, I won’t be alone.share this with friends: