The Path of Totality and Common Hope

by Brooke Wilson


I hope you were able to watch the recent solar eclipse. You might have even been in the path of totality. I happen to live in one of the largest cities on the path and it was a glorious moment for us Nashvillians. During the whole experience, I couldn’t help but think about community and togetherness. When the moment came to remove my ISO certified glasses, I was in awe. I appreciated the responses to those around me and soaked in the screams of excitement and disbelief, as this was something most of us have never witnessed in our lifetime and might not ever witness again.

It was wild to me that the moon blocked the sun just enough to make things appear a little dark, but it could not hide the light completely. Despite it being the peak of totality- total obscuration- there was light and I was drawn to it. The dark could not hide the light and my focus shifted from the gradual darkness to this undeniably strong source of light peeking through. I couldn’t help but wonder how we are like the sun. Even more so, how our societies and communities are like the sun. We are a resilient people. We often try to construct our own paths of totality, but sometimes this world takes over and it’s like a cloud moved over our moment. The moment. The good thing is there are several points on the path to totality and we can always choose how we respond and move forward.

For me, what made this moment of totality blissful was the opportunity to experience it with people I care about. The community. My community. We might not be able to recall all the details of a special moment in time, but usually we can place the people who were around us. This life is short. Almost as short as a solar eclipse. We should spend it with people who love us well and provoke us to be joyful, light-seeking human beings. We all know the amount of darkness that has surrounded our communities lately, but we have to spot the light. It’s there- maybe a little dimmer than usual, but it is certainly present. Sometimes the light is peaking around the edges, just beyond our sphere of sight, so we might need someone in our corner of the world who can be an extension of the sun for us and show us the good. We also have to remember the sun comes out stronger on the other side. The light returns. I have great hope in this.

I will leave you with this quote by Vaclav Havel from Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit.

The kind of hope I often think about (especially in situations that are particularly hopeless, such as prison) I understand above all as a state of mind, not a state of the world. Either we have hope within us or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul; it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.

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