Well that’s it for another ten years at least. It’s all over. I have found myself just as wrapped up as anyone by all the frenzy surrounding this latest eclipse of the sun. The media have, predictably, gone crazy over it. School start times have been changed, TV schedules re-written, planes chartered and personalities have been wheeled out to bring us coverage of this extraordinary event.
The adjectives used to describe the spectacle have been interesting. We have been drowning in words like spectacular, stunning, breath taking and one reporter described it as the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Really? I’m sorry but I don’t actually think it is that beautiful. Extraordinary yes, amazing maybe, even incredible but I don’t think it even comes close to dozens or even hundreds of sunsets I have seen for example. I have seen spectacular mountain vistas, stunning towering sea cliffs and even breath taking fields of red poppies swaying in a summer’s breeze which all provide a visual spectacle far more stimulating and rewarding than an eclipse of the sun. I think a lot of these commentators are missing the point.
I am not trying to belittle this phenomenon at all. I just think that it is special, not because of its beauty, but because of its rarity. The correct reason for making such a fuss about it is that it may be the only one some people will see in their entire life time. Now that is special. Depending upon where we are on the planet, weather conditions or restrictions imposed upon us by our circumstances some of us may never see an eclipse from birth to death. That’s what makes this event worth shouting about. That’s why we should celebrate it, because it is precious.
So if the true value of an eclipse of the sun lays in its very rare nature then surely that is true of other uncommon and unique experiences. But here’s a thought: You can’t simply choose to see an eclipse of the sun whenever you like, you have no control over such things, but you can enjoy equally rare and precious experiences almost at will.
Most of us already have a whole catalogue of these very special moments already stored away. The first time we fell in love, held a baby, climbed a mountain or rode a bike. There are thousands of other examples but the key word here is ‘first’. Ask yourself this question; when was the last time you did something for the first time? Think hard about that question because the answer may reveal that you are missing opportunities to collect the most precious things in the world. Truly unique experiences.
When you do something special, something wondrous, exciting or even frightening for the first time you experience something that you can never ever experience again. Its uniqueness lies in it being the first time. By its very nature the first time can never be repeated again and this makes all the emotions and sensations associated with a new experience precious beyond words.
You will have to wait a very long time to witness a solar eclipse again but you can create rare and special events pretty much whenever you like. From something as simple as cooking a meal that you have never tried before to travelling to a new place or taking on a real challenge that stretches and tests you, it’s easy to set these situations up. At the ripe old age of 55 I cycled through the night from Manchester to Blackpool. It was the first time I had ever cycled all night and into the dawn. It was a wonderful, unique and special experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Yesterday I spoke to someone who is learning to play the piano in their sixties. They can look forward to a whole host of first time experiences to savour and cherish. So don’t wait for the next eclipse to come around. It may be cloudy, you may be in the wrong part of the world or sadly, you may be dead. Make your own eclipses now. Make them for the very first time, make them beautiful and make them often.