I saw reports on overseas blogs of an eclipse which happened this evening, and was visible from Europe, Africa and parts of Australia.
I was burning with jealousy for no apparent reason. I'm sure these things happen from time to time, and yet the last time I can recall one specifically was when my class dutifully trooped outdoors with special viewing gear some time in elementary school. And that wasn't even the same sort of eclipse. The eclipse this evening was a lunar eclipse (in case the whole "evening" thing didn't give it away). You can look directly at a lunar eclipse.
It's a strange thing to witness: three celestial bodies going about their orbits and hurtling through space suddenly find themselves in a straight line. The shadow of us blocks the light of the sun from the moon, keeps it from bouncing back to us. It's a strange thing to witness, and our understanding of what takes place only helps to make it more strange and wondrous.
I wish I could have witnessed the eclipse, perhaps, because today I am feeling like I could use something poetic. I wish I could have captured images of this accident of geometry and saved them somewhere close by, for use as inspiration when I am feeling less inspired.
I could take out a picture and remember the beautiful thing that happened in space.
I think of Richard Feynman, the physicist and writer. He said:
"Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is 'mere'. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part... What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?"