Total Eclipse of The Heart

Reminder-Total-Solar-Eclipse-Will-Happen-Today-March-20-476301-2

 

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.

Another Year Gone By: Making My Birthday Special

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Since as far back as I can remember, I have always looked forward to my birthday with giddy anticipation.  There is something magical about the day you were born.  To you, the world did not exist until you got here and made it great.  When I was a teenager, my grandmother confided in me that, once you had children, your birthday was just another day that laundry had to be done, lunches had to be made, etc.  I remember looking at her, horrified, that she would say such a thing.  How could my birthday not be special???  Well, Grandma, you were right.  The older I’ve gotten, the less “special” my day has become.  I mean, I still get to spend it with my family, which is great.  But somehow it’s not the same.  No one will make me a special breakfast of pancakes with whipped cream and put a candle in it for me.  No one will spend weeks planning the perfect themed birthday party for me, complete with color coordinated desserts and decor in the venue.  
 
But the truth is, I’ve never had a birthday like that.  Yet my birthdays have always felt special to me because I’ve always had what I wanted and needed.  The same holds true this year – I have amazing children and family who are all well and spend time with me; though Jon is no longer my partner in life on earth, I have love and memories of him locked in my heart forever, never to be removed; I have found a loving partner in Danny, who puts up with me and all my quirks; I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, clothes and shoes in my closet.  I don’t really want or need anything else.  
 
So I decided that this year, I wanted to do something a little different for my birthday.  What that was, however, was a little unclear.  Then I saw a post on Facebook about a young man named Zach Sobiech.  A media company (Soul Pancake) filmed a documentary about Zach and his life for their documentary series, “My Last Days.”   Zach had cancer and did not have much time left on earth.  You can see Soul Pancake’s video about Zach here. I was so moved by this 17 year old boy, who sadly lost his battle with cancer just 4 days ago.  He was quite inspirational, saying things like, “You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.”  His older sister commented that Zach taught her that “things are okay when you believe in something greater than yourself in this world.”  But Zach said something that really touched me.  He said, “What makes you happy is seeing someone else smile because you put it there.  That’s what’s awesome about, like, living in this world is that you can help people.”  That really resonated with me.  After I stopped crying, I realized that this would be what I would for my birthday.  Instead of trying to decide on something that I wanted to receive for my birthday, I would decide on something that I would GIVE for my birthday, something that would help people.  Then I stumbled on a pin on Pinterest that was linked to a website called, “The Birthday Project.”  There was my answer.  Robyn, a young mom, started the site after a huge response to her blog post about how she celebrated her 38th birthday by completing 38 “Random Acts of Kindness” (RAOK).  So this year, I will be doing the same thing.  In celebration of the day I was born, 42 years (and one day) ago, I will complete 42 RAOK.  I have compiled a list, just as Robyn did, but am hopeful that opportunities will present themselves to me.  Some acts will be for complete strangers, while others will be for people who I know and love.  When I complete my 42 RAOK, I will post a complete list of all that I did and what the experience was like.  In the meantime, I strongly suggest that you watch Soul Pancake’s video about Zach (link above) and also watch his music video, “Clouds.”  I hope that both will change your life, as they have changed mine.

Normal Parents Don’t Quote Shakespeare – Or Do They?

My 14 year old daughter recently berated me for “stalking her Facebook page.”  By “stalking” she meant “looking at.”  Why did I have to read all of her statuses, along with all of the comments for each status, she lamented.  Mind you, some of the comments for a particular status can go on for pages – more than 30 or 40 comments.  This is what usually piques my interest =).  When I mentioned in conversation something that her friend had said in a comment, she went crazy.  The words “stalker” and “creepy” flew at me.  At first I was laughing at her reaction.  When I realized that she was actually upset by this, I got angry.  Aren’t your friends supposed to read your statuses (and the requisite comments) on Facebook? Was this not the purpose of Facebook?  Now I was yelling.  Seeing how upset about this I had become, my daughter quickly back-peddled.  “God, I was just kidding…” was the reply I got – along with a roll of the eyes.  “Do you know what Shakespeare once wrote?” I retorted.  “Many a truth are said in jest.”  A pregnant pause.  She looked at me and said, “He should’ve been more clear about what he meant……Oh, wait.”  The lightbulb went off over her head.  I smiled.  As she turned away she said, “You know, normal parents don’t quote Shakespeare.”