I stood there, in a cornfield in Hokinsville, KY. I thought the day had been exciting, waiting for and then observing the steady march of the moon’s disc across the Sun. One of the children there described it as the Sun being eaten. The light around us took on a rather eerie and disquieting “emptiness”…indeed, as though it were being eaten.
And then it happened. Totality. It struck me like a ton of bricks…the buildup had been nothing. THIS was “the show”.
I must have started my camera sequence…it ran. I quite literally don’t remember doing it. It was 10 minutes later before I even remembered to wonder if I had.
I found myself lying on the ground, staring up at totality…I don’t remember laying down.
I knew, somehow, that my life had changed. The very fabric of what it meant to me to be human had become, somehow, tangible and real. It took me days to understand why.
Man’s distinctive characteristic is his type of consciousness—a consciousness able to abstract, to form concepts, to apprehend reality by a process of reason. – Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
Rand, as she so often had, provided the words I was unable to find on my own.
The birds went quiet, the dogs settled, the nocturnal bugs began their night-time calls and dances. To the entire world, it was night.
Save for the Men.
As Man, we understood. It was not night. It was the chance alignment of orbiting bodies, behaving as they must in accordance with the laws of nature. Laws we cannot directly observe with any of our senses, but which must, nevertheless, be. Only our ability to “abstract, form concepts, and apprehend reality by a process of reason” allows us to know them, to understand their nature, and to know that this place, at this time, on this day, would allow us to observe their effects on the world around us.
Why was I there? Simple.
I reject any philosophy, any spirituality, any code, or any mysticism that dare suggest to me that knowledge of the world around me is a sin.
The function of my rational mind is what makes me Man, and connects me with the universe in which I live, and allowed me to experience this moment.
I’ll allow nobody to take that away.