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Nature is wasted on the naturalist

December 21, 2010

I don’t get it.

So many people want to watch the lunar eclipse. Many of them regrettably can’t, because of cloud cover.

Here in Oklahoma, we have an absolutely clear sky. I imagine — but can’t tell for sure — that this clarity might be called beautiful. It’s never difficult to discern the constellations out here. And yet, for me, the lunar eclipse is a huge let down.

The moon…it is so small in the sky. So insignificant and inconsequential. Is this what people have been waiting for?

My brother has used this time to stay up half the night with his friends, as they did to see a sunrise a few years back…and I didn’t understand it then. Why would anyone enjoy that? What was the purpose of staying up all night, then hiking outside to some mountain (more like glorified hill) just to see a sunrise?

I didn’t join him on that excursion. But I’ve done hikes before for sunrises. I don’t get it.

I let it slip out on one of the message boards I visit, and then this guy latched on to it. How could I not enjoy a sunrise?! What kind of person doesn’t enjoy that stuff, he countered. To this day, he makes sure to question my very humanity because of my ignorance of sunrises.

Tonight, I didn’t really have any plans on going out for the eclipse. But then my Facebook feed was flooded by people’s accounts. The message board was similarly flooded with accounts, and too many references to Total Eclipse of the Heart (appropriated for the moon.) And then my brother text messaged me about it.

So I got out of bed and went out.

How anticlimactic.

One of my friends wrote on facebook:

Lunar eclipses are amazing because space is vast and amazing and magnificent.

OK, so space is vast. Sure, that’s a function of volume and distance and whatnot. But what is “amazing” or “magnificent” about that? People often ascribe a sense of “awe” or whatever to things like nature or the cosmos because of vastness…what is that supposed to mean?

Am I supposed to question my humanity now? Am I supposed to suspect some deficiency now? Some kind of blindness?


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  1. No one should force you to enjoy anything you don’t want to enjoy, Andrew.


    We were unable to see anything with the cloud cover we had here in MN (and you would have had to be strongly motivated to go out and watch anyway, standing amid the deeper-than-usual snowbanks and frigid temperatures!

    I did, however, get to enjoy the lunar eclipse of ’08. Odd, I don’t remember the moon as being small in the sky at all. In fact, to me it seemed huge to me, like it was threatening to eat up the sky and crash into the earth. It was eerie. And something about the eclipse and that uncanny blood red color made every feature of the moon’s surface seem sharper, more visible, closer…

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