On Friday 20th March I, like millions of others, stopped what I was doing in the morning to witness the partial solar eclipse. The UK hadn’t seen this natural phenomenon since August 1999 and it was attracting a great deal of media attention. Various facts and stats were weaved into reports from beaches along the Cornish coast but one really struck a chord with me.
I heard somebody say that the sun’s diameter is 400 times larger than the moon’s, but the sun is also 400 times further away. In other words from where we are standing (on Earth), the smaller thing that’s closer to us blots out the bigger brighter thing that’s further away. It’s just our perspective that makes the two appear equal.
It got me thinking about positivity and negativity, and how often the latter eclipses the former.
How often do we allow a simple set-back, a minor inconvenience, or an unhelpful comment almost totally blot out the warmth and beauty we are turning our faces towards?
Our big goals, aspirations, and hearts desires are by their nature some distance away, whereas negative happenings crop up all the time; but because they are nearer they can prevent us from being able to keep sight of what we want. Remember that the goal is the really big thing, and the negative annoyance is much smaller; it’s just drifted into your line of sight.
I wonder if we are also more familiar with the negative things than positive.
Certainly in this country we don’t expect the see or feel the sun very often, whereas it’s a given that we’ll see the moon regularly. Likewise, man has actually been to the moon and therefore it may feel less conceptual and abstract a notion than the sun. However, we know that the life itself depends upon the sun; just because it’s much further away doesn’t mean it’s not of great value and importance.
Appearances can be deceptive.
If you asked a child to draw a picture of the sun and the moon what would you expect them to draw? A big yellow ball and a curved silver segment?
When I saw photos online of the eclipse I had to remind myself that the crescent shape was the sun, not the moon. My brain wanted make sense of the crescent shape in the sky by seeing it as the moon. I then had to consciously shift my mind-set to see it as the sun.
When an idea becomes firmly established in our thoughts and we think along those lines for a long period of time it requires a concerted effort to think differently. How often do we discount things, people, or opportunities because they appear to be something they may not be? They may look like something we are familiar with, so instead of challenging our perception, we make a snap judgement and look past.
Overcast but not overwhelming.
Unfortunately it was cloudy where I was on the morning of the eclipse and whilst I’d like to say that I noticed the sky darkening and the temperature dropping, I didn’t. To be fair mornings in March aren’t known for their bright and balmy conditions.
Despite the fact that I couldn’t see the eclipse, I have no doubt whatsoever that it took place. Again I was reminded that just because we can’t psychically see something, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. As I look out of the window at this very moment, the buds on the trees are starting to unfurl and the tips of the leaves are starting to show. Now I could sit by the window and watch the trees all day long and I wouldn’t be able to see that happening, but happening it is. Equally when trying to shed a few pounds you won’t notice your waistline shrink every time you resist the biscuit tin (if only!) but if you place your trust in the belief that making healthy choices leads to weight loss, you will see a difference over time.
Are your glasses half full?
If you were able to see the eclipse from where you live you might have worn a pair of cardboard sunglasses in order to look directly at it. I was surprised at how dark the lenses in these glasses are compared to normal sunglasses, and how it was impossible to see anything other than deep blackness until you looked up at the sun. Again this got me thinking; are we able to see anything wonderful if we’re not looking in the right direction?
Ten years ago I worked at a bank and after I’d left to pursue a career in broadcasting I stayed in touch with a few people. One friend had worked his way up to a senior position and took home a “telephone number” salary. Despite the money, the sharp suits and the flash car he was utterly miserable! I on the other hand was living a student style existence (more the poverty than the partying) but I was happy and fulfilled. He told me once that what he really wanted was to be a surfing instructor. I told him to go for it but he dismissed it because it’s not very well paid. By choosing to focus solely on money he was constantly looking away from the thing that might have made him really happy.
If you’re unhappy about something in your life, dare to look in another direction. After all, there’s no harm in looking!
2026 will be here before we know it.
It’s not every day you witness an optical illusion on the scale of a solar eclipse and even on the day that it does happen, it doesn’t seem to last for an especially long time.
The shadow cast by the moon starts to creep over the sun and a few minutes later covers it completely (or almost completely, depending on your geographical location). We all marvel for a minute or two, and then picture begins to change again. When it’s over, it’s over. Until the next time.
Again the eclipse reminded me that even when really big events take place, life keeps going. Time keeps turning and nothing (good or bad) stays the same forever. So on a day that’s good make the most of every moment, and on a day that’s bad keep the faith that things will change. Who knows what life will be like by the next significant solar eclipse? I have hopes and dreams for the next eleven years, but I’m going to try and remember the lessons this year’s has taught me in the meantime.
About The Author: Katy Martin is a presenter on BBC Local Radio in the South of England. She has been with the BBC for ten years; hosting a weekday afternoon show since 2009. Over the years she has have been fortunate enough to interview many influential and inspirational people; from Terry Waite to Karren Brady, the sister who gave her twin a kidney and a foster mum who’s given a home to over 300 children in the last 35 years. She says “There’s a revelation every day on the programme and I am often astounded by the resilience and unwavering positivity that radiates from my guests and listeners. In turn I do my best to reflect it back.” [email protected]
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