What’s more beautiful than watching the eclipse in Ypsi? Watching people watch the eclipse in Ypsi.

I was sitting at my desk as the solar eclipse was starting, when a coworker urged me to grab a box from the mailroom, punch a few holes in it, and join the rest of the staff out in the parking lot to watch tiny projections on cardboard of the moon pass in front of the sun. While Michigan, given the alignment of the bodies in question, may not have been the best place to view the eclipse, I enjoyed the experience of standing with my back to the historic celestial event as the air grew colder, staring down into a vandalized UPS box. If only for a moment, it was nice to think about something other than politics and work, and be reminded that, in the whole scheme of things, whatever happens here on the face of the earth doesn’t really matter. “The dinosaurs were here before us,” I thought, “and something else will come after us, and nothing we do here, in any way, will affect the course of events on the other planets in the universe.” Sure, it was dark, and kind of fatalistic, but I took some comfort in it… the brief reminder that, when all is said and done, nothing that happens on this planet, no matter how how vile or ridiculous, really matters.

This planet of ours, as Carl Sagan was known to say, is nothing more than “a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.”

But then my friend, Donald Harrison, sent me video that he’d taken in downtown Ypsilanti, where people had gathered in the small park next to the public library, to watch the eclipse, and I was reminded that there’s not just beauty in humanity, but a beauty worth fighting for. “While the eclipse was beautiful,” I thought while watching Donald’s video, “this is better.”

The Solar Eclipse 2017 in Downtown Ypsilanti from Donald Harrison on Vimeo.

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16 Comments

  1. Jean Henry
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. It’s lovely. I had a similar experience, where the shortage of glasses created a conviviality via sharing of spectacles and spectacle (couldn’t resist…). I was happily reunited with one of my teen staff from a decade ago. There is something about cosmic events that draws out the humanity and joy in many people. It was a nice little breather from the events of the past few weeks.

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly, on my way to the bookstore after the eclipse, I passed a ground floor bank office space with a pile of unused eclipse-watching goody bags, including glasses, reserved for a private party. No one bothered to share them.

  3. Eel
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Looking into the sun should be a privilege of the rich.

  4. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Took in the total eclipse out in western Nebraska (a number of EMU faculty and students were out that way too) and it was like nothing I had experienced in my life (and worth the drive). A dark sky, stars/planets out in mid-day, a 360 degree sunset at the horizon and dropping temperatures. While watching the eclipse away from the totality zone is great and seeing the moon block the sun is great, being in the area of totality is a completely different experience. My advice to anyone in the Ypsi area would be for the April 2024 eclipse, make plans to drive a few hours down to Ohio and get as close as you can to the center line of of totality. You will not regret it.

  5. Donald Harrison
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing, Mark. That event made me love libraries and Ypsi even more. And, yes, was the kind of reminder about the optimistic potential of people that I needed right now.

  6. Lisa Bashert
    Posted August 23, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    The most fun I had at the downtown library was seeing hundreds and hundreds maybe thousands of tiny little eclipses reflected through the leaves of the trees and even through the pores in the leaves of the boneset plants in the pollinator garden there. I also had my matzot cracker box viewer as well as a pair of glasses. I shared all three viewing options with a bunch of kids, and a Pakistani man, and librarians, and neighbors — all sharing the beauty.

  7. Posted August 24, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Speaking of the eclipse, the President of the United States just retweeted the following image…. In related news, I will never forgive those of you who voted for this vile, little man.

  8. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    OMG that is AWESOME!!!

  9. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    You voted for that scumbag Hillary Clinton so you are vile. Most evil candidate ever. So glad those globalist scumbags got eclipsed by President Trump.

  10. B
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Owah tagoo sooyar…

  11. maryd
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Everyone is very clear about who the scumbags are and exactly who is vile…

  12. anonymous
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I think we’re all finally starting to see you for who you really are, HW. Thank you.

  13. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    You don’t see because you refuse to even consider anything substantial. I talk about a ton of real shit you try to pretend doesn’t exist. All you have are little mudslinging quips.

  14. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Do not tell me you would not be having an absolute fit if President Trump had a former kkk leader as a mentor and backed a coup that installed neo nazis in Ukraine among countless other things. Don’t be hypocritical by condoning what your people do and trying to crucify Trump over whatever you think has the best shot at the moment.

  15. anonymous
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    The man who tweeted that image of Trump above (the eclipse one that Trump re-tweeted this morning), tweeted “We have enough of these Jews were I live” a few days ago.

    https://twitter.com/yashar/status/900764369482547204

  16. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    He said they can’t drive. Must be a NAZI or sum’m!

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