Schrodinger’s Eclipse

In this moment, before it has happened, my personal involvement with the August 21 eclipse is hovering in maybe-space. Will I feel again the shimmering magnetic atmosphere of long-ago experiences, see the dappling on the ground? Will I swim in air made of silver ripples? Will there be a storm that outshadows the shadow? Will others have chosen the same isolated viewing spot? Will I be open enough to notice anything unprecedented? Will I be too far outside the zone this time for any effects to be felt?

When it’s over, all possibilities will have collapsed out of these waves of potential into a flat fact-array (as in Schrodinger’s poor dear cat), but only in one dimension. The other dimensions, made of memory and wonder and the energies of creation, will glimmer ad infinitum, past the collapse of a single moment of intersection with me. Having recently been re-enchanted by a series of glorious spec-fic stories, it’s easier to imagine simultaneous alternate timelines, and to know the waves will keep rolling.

I feel a thrill just thinking about what Path of Totality means: a perfect alignment of human perception in apparent yet relative stillness while watching planetary bodies in motion, creating rare, bizarre phenomena, a ribbon of communion drawn across our home planet. Totality lasts only about two minutes in any one place and sweeps across the land at 1,500–2,500 miles an hour – a lunar body about two thousand miles across “covering” a star nearly a million miles across. I usually get these cosmic sensations around Winter Solstice, but the eclipse is a special occasion.

The writer/philosopher in me loves wafting around in the notion that this happens all the time, on smaller scales: little explosions of excitement and surprising reactions when phenomena in motion come into alignment with each other within our attention. (Sometimes people say, “The stars lined up….”) Something small but close up can blot out whole vistas of the rest of life, whether the close-up personal singularity is love or grief or beauty or treasure lost or found.

For the moment, I’m having a wonderful time being dazzled by all the predictions pulsing through the web, courtesy of seers of all kinds – metaphysicists/mythologists (who brood about portents, old and new), memoirists (who’ve been in the Path of Totality before), scientists (who publish acres of stunning photos and animations and analyses), and regular newsfolk (who scribble about things like the skyrocketing costs of airfares and hotel rooms caused by the clustering of bodies with goggles and cameras inside the PoT). Amid uncountable agendas in all these web stories, I’m celebrating a massive focus on our shared (tiny) space in the universe, the marvel of human perception.

While packing for my inner trip, fitting in everything I can for the richest possible experience, I’ve been hearing the Strauss-waltz from 2001 A Space Odyssey, feeling the heavenly bodies dance. In realizing how many different perspectives I want to bring to it, I’ve sensed the image of a fly’s eye: each of the fly’s compound eyes has about 4,000 ommatidia – receptors with links to the optic nerve, but with no ability to focus – so it senses everything without analyzing anything. Maybe I’ll subtly connect with some vaster perceptual capacity that can focus. At least I can relax that thousands of people are making videos and will write thousands of reports.

I mostly want to sense it for myself, and hope others can go outside and feel it for themselves, let their bodies vibrate with the phenomena if they’re close enough to the Path, and let their imaginations fan out and up into the cosmos, opening a window into the novelty of being alive, here, now. Two minutes. How fast are we moving? What delirious music.

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Photo Credit: stockxchange