I've been going in and out of different moods over the last couple of weeks. We're reaching the end of our 54 date Summer tour, and a tired yet over-stimulated, over-connected, and cantankerous mind can sometimes feel lost and succumb to the pressures around it. At one point, I started to blame any negative emotion on mercury retrograde after reading an article that convinced me anything going wrong was due to some astrological phenomena. Luckily, another such event snapped me out of that bullshit way of thinking to put things in perspective.
The most revelatory experience on this tour had to have been last Monday in Corvallis, Oregon when we got to experience the solar eclipse in totality for a minute and forty seconds. Just a week before, we were struggling to figure out what to do on the days surrounding the event. A show originally scheduled in Prineville had been pulled. Despite this, the booker still offered up his place for us to stay and watch. But we quickly realized that it would be a logistical nightmare to get into a town with a one lane road going in and out that was being invaded by tens of thousands of people. After making some concessions and succumbing to the fact that we might be fine with 98% totality, we found a cheap motel in Oakland, OR thanks to a friends employee discount (seriously, it saved our asses. everything was going for $600+ dollars even this far south of totality).
In the days leading up, Eric and I became more engulfed in the hysteria surrounding the eclipse in Oregon. We decided our approach would be to see where fate would lead us in regards to our eclipse experience. After refusing to buy glasses for $100+ on Amazon, we were gifted them on our first try asking from the stage (shout out to the gracious owner of Six Rivers Brewery in McKinleyville, CA). After talking to numerous fans, it became apparent to us that 98% totality was not going to be nearly as special as 100%. Despite traffic warnings and apocalyptic messaging abound, we decided we would wake up at 5AM and drive north to the zone of totality. We were hoping for the best while also resigning ourselves to the idea that watching it from the shoulder of Interstate 5 wouldn't be too bad if it came to that.
A two hour drive north got us to Corvalis, Oregon, right in the zone of totality, without too much trouble. We posted up at a local distillery. If you want to measure the importance of an event, I don't think anything can quite state that importance than a bar packed with people at 8AM on a Monday morning. With our overly sour "eclipse cocktails" in hand, we waited until the first person on the lawn shouted "IT'S HERE" and joined the flurry of people putting on their glasses. We all "ooo'd" and "ahhh'd" at how impressive the view of the small sliver of moon covering the sun actually was through our portals of darkness.
The anticipation grew more fervent over the next hour. I went out to the lawn every few minutes to see how the moon was progressing. About halfway through, you could start to make out more more of its depth. The curvature on the underside became suddenly apparent. By this point I was on to my second drink at 9:45AM.
Strangers around us were all interacting and discussing the marvel occurring above them. The sliver of the sun became smaller, and smaller, and smaller, until a huge gasp and cheer let out from everyone at 10:16AM and 56 seconds as we realized the sun had disappeared and we were in totality. Everyone whipped their glasses off and stared hard at the diamond ring that had formed around the moon in the sky. I wouldn't say it was completely dark like night-time. It was more like we were surrounded by a halo of darkness with this giant shining object in the sky illuminating the very center. The birds went quiet, people were crying, and for just one moment the perspective of ourselves within the universe was completely put to test.
For 1 minute and forty seconds, none of the rest of the crap going in the world mattered. This was one of those rare moments when you could feel that everyone around you was going through the same emotions en masse. We were being humbled by the moon and the sun, realizing how small we are in the whole scheme of the universe. At the same time, there was a sense of greatness in the fact that at this time so many of us were only thinking about and experiencing one thing: The eclipse. It transcended the media, celebrity, political office, and much of the rest of this world we've set up to divide ourselves. It was a welcomed reminder that when it truly counts, humanity can be incredibly unified and cooperative in the face of true phenomena.
For a week after, the eclipse has still dominated any conversation I've had in Oregon. In a way, that minute and forty seconds has extended into a 2 week affair that will likely continue until we leave the state. And in an unequivocal sense of irony in regards to my admiration of humanity's ability to unify, there's a definite team sentiment when it comes to those who experienced true totality and those who experienced 99.99999% or less. But I can understand why....because I'm on the right team.
Photo Credit: Luc Viator