So I’m a little late with this post. The solar eclipse happened two days ago and I’m first sitting down to write about it now. Part of the reason for that is time, but I also wanted to do some research. A quick look at any social media platform will reveal that many people were super-psyched about the eclipse. And also that just as many were not interested and were sick of hearing about it. The lead up to the eclipse was, I’ll admit, somewhat annoying. It was all over the news. There was a run on eclipse glasses, which resulted in price gouging. Warnings about eye damage to humans and animals were posted and reposted everywhere. I planned to go about my day as usual, possibly going out in my backyard at the appointed time (for us in NYC we got 71% coverage at around 2:45pm). Then “Eclipse Monday” actually came around and I got sucked into the hype. I was glued to my TV. The Staten Island Advance’s Shane DiMaio went “Facebook Live” with an Eclipse Party that was happening on the campus of the College of Staten Island, both educational and entertaining. I watched that on my phone while I sat in my backyard waiting for the “big moment.” What was it that drew me in? What was the appeal? Why was I suddenly so excited about the eclipse? In short, I wanted to feel like I was part of something special.
Our lives are all about connections: social media connections, business connections, family connections, etc.. As an educator, a big part of my job was to help students make connections to abstract ideas and concepts. This is the learning process. We take in a new concept by comparing and contrasting it to things we already know; we connect it to other ideas and concepts and incorporate into our own well of knowledge. The solar eclipse, for many, represented something that they could connect to, something that not everyone everywhere would get to experience. It was something special. According to Google, special is defined as, “better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual.” While we all share the same sky and stars, the eclipse was another way for us to feel special and connected to other viewers. It may become the new, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” Now it will be, “Where did you watch the 2017 Solar Eclipse?”
Then I asked myself, why is it so important for human beings to feel special? I think it basically boils down to wanting to feel like we are important, like we matter. This happens when you receive recognition for a talent or achievement. See my post about participation awards here. But it also happens in relationships, both romantic and platonic. My cousin Christine and I have a special relationship. Those of you who have watched Grey’s Anatomy will understand what I mean when I say Christine is “my person.” We are connected not only by blood, but by similar experiences. It is a connection that only we share together. It is different from usual friendships. It’s special.
Feeling special is even more important in romantic relationships. The connection that romantic partners share is different than that which they share with anyone else. Very attached partners often describe this special connection as one that occurs on various “levels,” and when they feel this connection on multiple levels, the more special the relationship feels. My readers who watch Friends will surely remember Phoebe describing that type of specialness and connection with lobsters when she assures Ross that he and Rachel will eventually end up together because “she’s your lobster.” Who wouldn’t want to feel that close and connected to their partner? That’s what makes their relationship different from anyone else’s, that’s what makes it so special.
I seem to have taken the long way around, but this is why I became so excited and mesmerized by Monday’s eclipse: it allowed me to feel connected to something special. And to me, that was awesome.