I went out to a late lunch with former students today (they were literally late, some things never change.)
But they arrived with the excuse, “Sorry we’re late, but it’s ok because I brought glasses.”
Indeed, my former student did have a pair of slightly bent, standard-issue NASA glasses with a layer of real-deal tinfoil over the lenses. We took turns looking at the moon taking a little bite out of the sun, when the man at the table next door timidly asked my former student, “Would you mind if I took a peek?”
Before long, our server was also going bananas over the partial sun loss. Customers at the restaurant came to our table kindly informing us that the server wouldn’t let them order unless they looked through Emma’s glasses. The glasses went inside and outside while we lunched, before culminating with a really, really old lady who would probably never see another eclipse in her lifetime.
Jeremy even emerged DURING A HOT SUMMER DAY for the celestial soiree. He tried several times, through a significant language barrier, to explain to the couple that had emerged from their dry cleaning shop why everyone was looking up.
As we walked home, people congregated on sidewalks, sharing glasses, passing knowledge, exchanging exclamations. Old prejudices were put temporarily on hold while everyone looked up. Maybe most shockingly, there seemed to be actual good will for one another on social media. For every photo of the eclipsed sun, or the unique shadows I saw, there were two photos of the random crowds that had joined together to look at the sky.
America just agreed on one thing, one singular thing, today. And I think everyone on Facebook is so gosh darn excited partially because the sky was awesome today, but mostly because it felt so damn good for America to agree.
I think the metaphor is clear here, and hardly original, but in this moment, intrigue eclipsed anger. Good will eclipsed social norms. The greater good of humanity eclipsed the greater tension that divides us.
I wish it wasn’t only a few hours long.