A SOLAR ECLIPSE… (…pressing the pause-buttons of our daily routines)

For the past ten days or so we’ve been heralded about the first total solar eclipse to be seen across the entire United States in nearly a hundred years. Its fully darkened track angling from the Pacific shores of Washington State right across the heartland to the Atlantic shores of Charleston, South Carolina. Along the way it will no doubt be pressing the pause-buttons of our daily routines (as a welcomed respite diverting our attentions from the inanities and insanities of what passes for the daily flow of all the news that’s un-fit to print).

But unlike most folks we didn’t prepare for it by rushing out to latch onto whatever special dark glasses might be available to view it without frying the retinas of our eyeballs.  We opted instead to observe all those who were observing the phenomenon…as something better and more educational to watch…and so it proved.

Yesterday, the heralded event arrived, right on schedule, so off we went strolling around the streets to see what we could see about how people were reacting to this naturally presented event. While our geographical location didn’t produce full darkness, it did “dim the lights” so to speak, enough so that plenty of ooohs and aaahs could be heard from its watchers.

What was of more interest to us, however, was how the smart-phone zombies were reacting to it. Instead of their usual zoned-out demeanor, while strolling along and staring into the palms of their hands, creating pedestrian and traffic hazards along the way, these now clustered at street corners in small chattering groups holding up their digital alter egos at arm’s length to the rays of a rapidly dimming sun (despite earlier warnings that even sunlight of such weakened intensity could also fry the hell out of their gadgets).

Further on in different parts of the Financial District, similar clusters of what were obviously office workers, stood outside their respective workplaces (apparently released by their bosses for the occasion), one extended arm and hand holding up their digital gadgets to record the event, while sipping from their lattes held in the other hand…happily comparing notes and images with each other.

In both instances, it must have been a while since any of them had interacted face to face, live, and in real time, rather than by tweets or other forms of social media with each other… including perfect strangers and touristas passing by. Yet, from the looks on their faces, that experience seemed to be of greater interest to them…than the solar eclipse event itself (okay, okay, at the risk of being branded a cynic…maybe it was more a case of guys and dolls exploring week-end hook-up potentials than the sun’s show itself).

As a brighter light of day began returning everyone slowly began drifting away from their ad hoc social clusters, back to whatever they had been doing…smart phone zombies ambling away as they normally do…tourists and other strays going on about their shopping and tours…and office workers heading back to their cubicles and offices. The show was over.

For our part, we just headed for our usual mid-morning non-latte-ed black coffee and crisp croissant indulgence at one of the less cluttered up café places we frequent. As we sat there jotting down a few notes about this eclipse experience, an idle but amusing thought came to mind…about how that event might now be used by one of those office peons as a latter-day variation of the old dog-ate-my-homework ploy…as an excuse for not having an urgent report ready…sorry, Boss…but that big black spot on the sun made things so dark…I couldn’t see well enough to finish it on time…!

When Mother Nature entertains…she’s hard to beat.

CENTURION