On totality

image from https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/6v6dqp/amazing_photo_of_totality_in_oregon_by/

So it's been about 7 hours since I saw totality, and I'm still stunned.

I know that in most things that we experience, getting 97% of something is practically as good as getting the whole thing.  But this was emphatically not one of those things.  The difference between anything less than totality and totality is the difference between smelling a steak and eating it.  Watching a shadow slowly eat the sun was interesting, but you watch it for a while and you're like "oh, I know how this looks; I'm bored by it now."

But when we hit what I'm thinking was 97% coverage, things got markedly different.  You started to notice that the solar radiation hitting your skin no longer feels so hot.  The light quality changes.  It's kind of like dusk, but not really.  Dusk comes from one direction; this is all over.  It's kind of eerie.  Street lights come on.  Everyone is looking at this little tiny sliver of orange through their eclipse glasses, some yelling "oh my god, it's almost gone...this is amazing!".

And then the eclipse goggles go dark, and you take them off, and you see something like nothing you've ever seen before.  There's a ring of light in the sky, with just a black hole in the middle.  There's tendrils of flames erupting from the sides of it.  There are colors that you've never seen before, colors so vibrant that our displays can't show them.

And the people around you are shouting, laughing.  It's basically a religious experience, but one that requires no belief in anything, just your own vision.  There's a hole in the middle of the sky, and it's night in the middle of the day.  You're reminded that we're both tiny and insignificant and also part of something monumentally important.  The world seems frozen and you forget that you meant to take an eclipse selfie because you're so enraptured by the experience.

And when it's over, when you put on the glasses again to see that tiny bit of sun peeking out from the other side, you start to consider...what did that mean?  How will I integrate this incredible experience into my life?

I'm still thinking this through.  I've got ideas, on God, on the quest for peak experiences, on what my goals in life should be.  Still working through them, though.  For now, I've got to shower, because I'm filthy from camping, and I probably smell really bad.

But man, what a trip.  If any of you thought it was an overhyped event...if you didn't see totality, I agree.  Try to see it next time.  If you did, then I'd love to know why.  For me it was all it was billed as and more.