I missed the Total Eclipse.
On August 21st, I was with our extended family at an annual family event on the outer banks of North Carolina. Where we were, even though the sun was 90% obscured by the moon, the changes in the environment were barely perceptible. Yes, it was “cool” and “awesome”, but it didn’t have much of an effect on our day.
However, we had guests at our home in Jackson who reported that the total eclipse was a “once in a lifetime experience”; one like no other. I pondered what they meant by this and surmised that it had something to do with becoming aware that life on Earth depends upon the energy from the Sun; that our very existence is fragile, and that we benefit from a rare combination of cosmic circumstances that sustain life as we know it. The total eclipse must have heightened that awareness.
I’m reminded of the late Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” monologue, in which he describes his response to the visual images of the Earth sent from the Voyager 1 spacecraft as it passed Saturn in 1990. He called the Earth the “Pale Blue Dot” because it was so small and insignificant as seen from Voyager 1. Here’s an excerpt from Sagan’s monologue:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
That’s what I suspect was on the minds of our house guests during and after the eclipse.
There’s a part of me that wishes I could have experienced the Total Eclipse in Jackson. Yet, I know in my heart that I was where I was supposed to be: with my family, building on our traditions, and creating stories that will sustain us and connect us over time. It’s our family’s True Wealth.
When we appreciate the opportunities we have to be with our family and friends, to engage in meaningful and fulfilling activities, and to contribute to the well-being of others and our community, our lives become richer. We experience True Wealth, not just numbers on financial statements or account balances.