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Our View: With the eclipse, a ripe opportunity

The Pine Knot and our weekly dose of news is likely complicit in any information overload you may be feeling these days. On average, Americans spend at least eight hours in front of a screen each day. And there’s that fascinating fact that one day of information today is as much as our ancient ancestors learned in a lifetime. Ugh.

So let’s take a break Monday. It’s a perfect opportunity with the solar eclipse occurring in the early afternoon.

It’s a good time to reset, relax and perhaps repent. The effect of this cosmic event on our brains has been studied a lot in the past few decades. Results vary, but an eclipse has a way of slowing us down, putting us in our place in the vast universe, and letting awe wash over us. Additionally, some studies show that we become more communal under a darkening sky.

A partial solar eclipse (75 percent) can be observed on Monday from about 12:50 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. in the area. It will peak around 2 p.m.

If you don’t plan on skipping off to chase the total eclipse line to our south, be satisfied with what is always a wonder.

Make like those ancient brains, and imagine just happening upon an eclipse.

The element of surprise is removed from the eclipse phenomenon today, so perhaps the psychological effects are lessened. Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, noted in Psychology Today that in times past, “when the sky darkened and animals became quiet, our ancestors sometimes thought that supernatural powers were bringing the world to an end. In ancient China, it was believed that a dragon was eating the sun, some Native Americans cited a hungry bear, and the Vikings blamed sky wolves. Although early astronomers became adept at tracking the movements of the sun, moon, and planets in order to predict their unusual patterns, they lacked the media infrastructure necessary to warn the public in general.”

Katie Weeman captured the spirit of an eclipse nicely in this month’s issue of Scientific American: “The shadow of totality is a dark spot on Earth that measures about 100 miles wide and cruises steadily along a path, covering several thousand miles in four to five hours. The human experiences along that path are not isolated events any more than individual dominoes are isolated pillars in a formation. Once that first domino is tipped, we are all linked into something bigger — and unstoppable. We all experience the momentum and the awe together.”

Weeman went on: “Eclipses remind us that we are part of something bigger, that we are connected with something vast. … During the brief time when the moon blocks the last of the sun’s rays, you can finally lower your glasses and look directly at the eclipse. It’s like making eye contact with the universe.”

One can’t begrudge those seeking the total eclipse. Two staffers here at the Pine Knot are headed to Indiana this weekend. The next time we’ll see a total eclipse across the continental United States will be in 2045. A total eclipse over Minnesota will occur in 2099 and 2106.

If it’s on your bucket list, this is the year to go.

We’d love to hear from anyone who has an “experience” under the eclipse, be it total or partial.

Just be sure to take the time Monday. Perhaps make a wish, turn a tide, set your jaw to a goal, settle a grievance, or forge a friendship.

Astrologers in ancient times believed that solar eclipses were highly karmic events that helped balance the scales of justice in the world, opening portals, helping us to raise our consciousness and access higher frequencies.

In these often wearing times, that’s an experience we should all seek, if only for a few moments Monday.

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