Solar Eclipse and Regrets

I trust that as long as you haven’t been living under a rock in the past year, you know that there was a solar eclipse Monday. In Grand Island Nebraska, which is approximately three hours from me, it was a total eclipse of the sun, allowing onlookers to get a glimpse of the night sky in the middle of the day. Though I did not get the opportunity to witness it in quite that manner, I did get to see it at 98% which was still, in my opinion, spectacular!

As 1 pm  approached Monday afternoon, the sky started to get slightly darker. It was almost as if it were a cloudy day or that the sun was setting, but at the same time not at all like those things. It is very difficult for me to describe. I guess the only way to explain it is imagine seeing something that is mundane, something you see daily, only knowing that in some way it is not right.

Armed with our protective glasses, my coworkers and I hurried outside to catch this once in a lifetime sight. I don’t know if you have ever worn solar eclipse glasses before, but if you haven’t, let me tell you it is very disorienting at first. the film is completely blacked out, lending the illusion that you are blindfolding yourself rather than preparing to look at something. But when you look at the sun, you can see a perfect circle of light. I had the privilege of seeing several stages of the eclipse.

Right at the beginning, around noon, I could just barely make out a small obstruction taking a tiny half circle chunk out of the right side. At 12:45 pm, it appeared like a crescent moon right in the middle of the afternoon sky, which may not sound very interesting, but I assure you was unbelievably fascinating. And finally, right around 1:08 pm, for only a moment, there was a big black circle surrounded by the faintest outline of light. I am 95% sure I am not doing this sight justice with the written word, but it was breathtaking. Do I wish I had seen the eclipse in it’s full blown stars-in-the-middle-of-the-day glory? Of course. But what I was allowed to witness was one of the most remarkable events I have ever seen. And it allowed me to cross another item off my list. #219: See a solar eclipse.

Now, I bet you’re wondering why this post is titled Solar Eclipse and Regrets. Well, that takes me back to Monday at noon. But even before that, what is it that we have been hearing non-stop for a year now? “Don’t look directly at the eclipse. You’ll permanently damage your eyesight.” I myself had been warning my friends and loved ones for weeks not to look at the sun and even considered not looking at the eclipse at all for fear of having faulty glasses. Irony is the greatest, isn’t it.

I was about to leave for work and wanted to see how the glasses worked before I left. Having never worn solar glasses before, I wasn’t sure how they worked. I looked to where I assumed the sun was and saw what I described to you earlier. But for some reason, I wasn’t sure that what I was seeing was actually the sun. So, without thinking about how idiotic the idea was, I pulled the glasses down for only a second. Immediately, I realized exactly what I had done. As I said before, this was not during the full on eclipse, but a piece of the sun was blocked out. It was without a doubt the brightest light I have ever seen in my life. It was so powerful that I actually staggered back several steps.

I was furious at myself for making such a stupid mistake that I had been preaching for others not to make. I began rationalizing that it was only a split second. It wasn’t the total eclipse, so I was probably fine, right? I tried to let the thought of total blindness slip from my mind as I left for work. However, as the day progressed I kept having these awful headaches and my eyes were itchy and burning. I tried to tell myself that it was only allergies (which I now know it to be), but I couldn’t shake the fear that I could wake up the next morning without most or all of my eyesight.

Here’s where the regret comes in. When you feel the emanate danger of no longer being able to see, you think about all of the things you have never seen. Amsterdam, Ireland, the Northern Lights. All of these possibilities might have become impossibilities because of my own stupidity. I realized then that if my eyesight did become hindered, I was not satisfied enough with the sights I have already taken in. It is similar to asking yourself, “If I died tomorrow, would I be content with the life I lived?” Would your list of triumphs be longer than your list of regrets? If the answer is no, don’t wait to turn things around. The saying “Life’s short” is a cliche for a reason. Surround everyday with sights and sounds and experiences that make you content with this life you lead. Thankfully, my eyesight is no worse than it was before, but I will never forget that fear and regret I felt Monday afternoon. May that add to the fire that fuels this beautiful journey that I am on. Have a nice weekend, friends. And remember, it’s a beautiful day to cross it off.


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