Viewpoint

Why we love moments like the solar eclipse

President Trump glances at the partial eclipse Monday.
President Trump glances at the partial eclipse Monday. TNS

Too quickly, it was over.

The once-in-some-of-our-lifetimes solar eclipse reached its peak around 2:45 Monday. As the dark side of the moon began to move on and the heat of the day returned, I pulled off the protective glasses and walked back into my office.

Then a few minutes later I found myself bounding downstairs, grabbing the ISO 123s, and running back outside.

I wanted one more look. I realized I was seeing something with my own eyes that I may never see again. Like the “World Series Champions” flag flying over Wrigley Field.

The moon was half gone and the birds were chirping again, so, back inside. But I couldn’t stay away.

Only a quarter-moon still blocked the sun and I once again fully felt the pounding August rays. The glasses protected my eyes but on my next visit my dermatologist is going to have a liquid-nitro field day.

Run and delete a few more emails, then back out. Barely a smidge of moon left. I didn’t want it to end. And I knew I wasn’t alone. In a moment almost impossible to imagine these days, social media became the biggest backyard fence ever. Instagram filled with photos that became familiar as the moon tracked coast-to-coast. Twitter, where 70 million Americans from protesters to presidents go to burn the other side down, echoed in awe.

The truth is, we love our eclipse moments. We love the Super Bowl. We love our larger-than-life, connecting communal occasions. Despite their hype and excess, we love them even as we might chide them. We love them even as we live more and more “loner moments” with our iPads and iPhones and virtual realities; our streaming, to watch what we want when we want.

The more our modern world allows us to bend time and experience to fit our measly personal agendas, the less we think we need anyone else – the more do we conversely crave community. Even the president is susceptible.

There he was with his family on a White House balcony, sporting our same goofy looking glasses, gazing. There was Donald Trump in another instant, glasses off, squinting skyward, bent back by the sun, the same as any of us. No special Trump Powers. No baseball-capped greatness. It was the most common, honest, human experience I’ve ever seen Donald Trump have.

These moments move rapidly into the rear view mirror. Nothing is as far gone as the Super Bowl by the next weekend, unless your team won. Or, in the Carolinas, lost.

In their wake, reality returns – the daily “chopping wood and carrying water” those living in the Zen of life see as marvelous action, but which most of us see as Hum-Drum Drudgery.

But fear not. A new unifying distraction is already upon us, just as a new moon follows the old. Wednesday’s Powerball is going to hit $650 million. It’ll be the second-highest jackpot in Powerball history. Let our connecting communal standing in line commence.

I don’t think the president will be communing with us this time, though.

Observer contributor Keith Larson can be heard on “The Larson Page” weekdays at noon on ESPN Radio Charlotte (730 AM) and TheLarsonPage.com.

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