T-shirt sales, marking up the price of special viewing glasses, and non-stop news coverage about the millions of people who will be taking to the highways causing traffic jams - these are all signs that point to a large scale event marked by the usual tinges of capitalism and American idealism.
It wouldn't be this country if we all didn't react in a big way and turn everything into a brouhaha. Although, a lot of it sounds negative, it is not all bad. There are just those things to be prepared for, like heading to any music festival where you will probably be spending $20 on a hamburger and fighting with people for a parking spot. We all want to be a part of history and if I don't get the t-shirt that says I was there, than hell, it probably didn't even happen!
Aside from that nonsense, there really is nothing I love more than an occasion that upsets the normal day to day activities. The enthusiasm behind people wanting to take the day off and just experience a natural phenomenon is thrilling. Those that are lucky to be able to do so, can just take the moment to relax and spend a second to think about (as Carl Sagan put it) how we are all just on a pale blue dot, "on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam."
We can get so caught up in the motions, so days like tomorrow can be a nice change of pace. I just wish we didn't have to fight over those viewing glasses. Shouldn't all the states in the path of the eclipse mail those out to everyone for free? [My future non-profit, “Fun For All - Like Seriously”, will be in charge of this by the next eclipse – count on it!]
National events seem to level the playing field as well, which we all could agree is something we need in our country's current upheaval. We are all here just trying to survive. That sameness will only be more evident tomorrow and will hopefully occur to many while looking up under the same sky.
Sure, these poetic ideals are not on everyone's mind. Many will just be trying to get that perfect #eclipselfie. Even I thought about live tweeting the event that I plan on catching while sitting on a Washington beach eating donuts. Tweet gems like, “It's allll happening!” and “It's allllll happening...a little more!!” seem really integral to send out into the world. But joking around and being involved in that social experience is all just part of the cultural phenomenon these days. I enjoy it as much as the next millennial or really adult/humans of all ages.
Although, I do want to offer the most obvious advice on the planet. Take that Snap of you watching the eclipse with bunny ears and tweet out that joke, and then just put the phone down. Step away from it. Just do it. Enjoy it all before the moment is lost. Only then will you truly be able to remember where you were when this event happened. People like my grandma remember where they were during the eclipse in the 1970s. She for sure was not occupied by technology.
Over the years our phones have made aspects of life more entertaining and the ability to share our experiences with people in all walks of life is extraordinary, but sometimes returning to more simple times, when we could leave the house without a phone glued to our hands, seems like the better answer.
I really do hope that only goodness is on people's minds as the sky goes dark tomorrow, and not the macabre. Other pop culture devotees have surely been thinking about instances of eclipses in books, movies, TV, and music in preparation for tomorrow's event. Stephenie Meyer seems to have a monopoly on our collective reaction to the word “eclipse”, or maybe many of you have escaped that connection, either way, there are more pop culture "eclipses" worth noting than just those revolving around fighting over a werewolf and vampire.
Having grown up in a family obsessed with Stephen King, the one example I have not been able to get out of my mind the last couple weeks is his intense masterpiece, Dolores Claiborne. Anyone who has read the book or caught the excellent film adaption starring bad-ass Kathy Bates, knows that a large plot point involves an eclipse falling over a town in Maine (of course). King delves into the idea of what can happen during the two minutes of darkness while everyone's attentions are focused on the sky...
I don't know if King found news articles about people doing bad things during solar eclipses or if that just came from his own wildly creative mind, but let's still keep our intentions good for tomorrow. Don't try to rob stores or cause a disturbance. Hopefully the worst thing you do tomorrow is fall over while trying to frame the perfect eclipse photo with your phone. While embarrassing, that is something we can all handle.
Soak up those dark rays, maybe blast Madonna's Ray of Light album, or tune in for Bonnie Tyler's performance of Total Eclipse Of The Heart (perfect pop culture moments of fun like this is why I love living!), and, most of all, just pay attention. After all, you may not be around the next time the moon falls between the earth and the sun. Celebrate in the bold and big way America does best. Also maybe think about sharing those viewing glasses with your neighbor.
Live that best Solar Eclipse Life.