For 20 minutes yesterday, I talked to my neighbor about how music can transcend culture, and shape it. It didn’t matter that he has about 30 years on me and remembered watching the Apollo moon landing as a kid. The impetus for this discussion (not that it was our first), was me standing on my front patio watching the eclipse.
Across the parking lot, a 20-something girl wearing eclipse glasses tried to get her phone to take a decent picture. I don’t think she was successful.
Similar scenes were repeated across the country yesterday, as an uncommon but not quite “once in a lifetime” astronomical event drew folks into a shared experience. I highly doubt too many folks were asking their neighbors if they voted for Donald Trump or not.
The eclipse had me thinking, why do we take for granted our collective shared experiences, especially in the age of “oversharing”? In an ocean of Facebook posts and Twitter arguments over white supremacists, Antifa, Donald Trump, and confederate monuments, yesterday was a reprieve. Sure, most of it was tacky eclipse humor, but it was refreshing.
It reminds me of Super Bowl Sunday, where folks quit worrying for a moment and make cracks about the worst ads. It reminds me of last year’s World Series, despite the unfortunate result, where more of my friends were talking baseball than the upcoming election (even if for a few brief hours). It reminds me of days of national tragedy, where we mourn together. It reminds me of the Olympics, where we celebrate the quadrennial American ass-kicking that occurs.
Can we just take a minute to appreciate the eclipses that capture our imagination? Can we admit, for even just 60 seconds, that we are being bound together by shared experiences in a way that previous generations would be envious of? After all, that’s a more refreshing view of the world than the one we’ve been presented.
We face serious challenges and serious divisions remain. Perhaps, however, we can admit that those divisions pale in comparison to the things that bring us together. I know that’s how I felt yesterday, and I wish these days weren’t as uncommon.