• Dawn Hemstreet

Getting schooled in what matters

Updated: May 22, 2019


Solar Eclipse 2017


There are times when I just have to laugh at myself. When I reflect on my attitudes, thoughts & proclivites. I am the type of person who seems to be able to analyze all the negatives of any situation in under 30 seconds. I guess this is how I was raised. At times it has served me really well in avoiding disaster and at times it has kept me from living. Like really living... It is only magnified if I am under emotional/physical stress. This eclipse thing was one of those times.

For months now people in this area have been planning, talking, organizing & bemoaning the path of totality. I knew that I would be dropping my son off at college and I just couldn't be bothered to think about this. After all, I remember the one in 1979 and it was a little ho hum for me. We made some homemade boxes & our class went outside. I think it must have been cloudy because it just didn't seem like much to me. I was 11 at the time.

So, all of my energy went into the college drop off, of course. Since our home is literally in the ideal spot for "the path of totality" we had family members very interested in staying with us. I just could not understand this. I would not travel for this, I thought. Jeez, what is wrong with people it's only 2 minutes or less of darkness. Good lord, we get that everyday but it's 8-12 hours of darkness. Seriously, who cares about this...blah, blah, blah. I had convinced myself that this might be the most ridiculous waste of time ever, then factor in traffic, food & gas shortages and really BIG EYE ROLL!! Plus we were literally coming home from CSU 24 hours before the eclipse- exhausted, grieving and just not in the mood.

We left my son a day early just to avoid getting stuck on the freeways & there was no extra traffic. I thought I could've spent another day with my kid (not really, he had orientation & plans with friends) but this stupid eclipse. The roads were fine, the groceries never seemed to sell out & the gas thing was manageable.

Guests started to arrive a day later & I thought Ok I can rally for this thing. I can manage to not have a shitty attitude around this. After all there are so few things to celebrate in life. I was missing my son but the distraction was actually welcome. I pulled myself together and tried to get excited. The most I could muster is a "get er done" attitude. The day of, we decided to go up to the "viewpoint" a location I had named because it has a wonderful view of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt Rainier on one side & the coast range on the other. A pretty good 360 degree view of the horizon. We got up there and it wasn't crowded. Again, I thought "Oh brother some big deal this is, no one is here".

It started to get colder & colder as the sun was eclipsed, I could feel a humming in my body as this kind of weird sense of change was happening. We had seen a video that pretty accurately spelled out what to expect (except for the body humming part). Alerts were popping up on my phone about the timing and at some point everyone in our group was standing. Then the totality happened. I really have no mental idea what happened but the sense of awe & ancient human experience washed over me. I had tears streaming down my face as I tried to video tape it all so I could relive it. As the light started to come back, our group was hugging, some were crying, some were giggling, some were just plain speechless. To think that if I had let my silly nature rule this, I would've likely missed it. This ranks right up there in experiences for me. It was profound in ways that I don't understand. I won't ever really "understand" this. But man, did I get schooled in getting out of my own way. I can tell you that I will likely travel for this no matter where it is in the future & that if I am ever faced with a "once in a lifetime" event that literally comes to my backyard I will be excited, optimistic & surrender to it.

This is an opportunity to see the weird limits I put on myself. It's possible that there have been other miraculous events that I have not participated in & this has me thinking of a change. A change in celebrating everyday life. A change in attitude toward discomfort. A change in seeing what matters. The truth is discomfort is just as fleeting as joy and I would endure a lot of discomfort to see "the eye of the universe" again.

In acknowledgement of my smart ass nature, I will try and surrender this to less ass and more smart,

Cheers to being schooled by the eye of the universe,

Dawn


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Dawn Hemstreet June 2017

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