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Three Reasons the Eclipse Made Us Feel a Little Bit Better About Life

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It’s been something of a grim summer, hasn’t it–between health care and Charlottesville?

But yesterday’s eclipse–or more accurately, the viewing of it–gave me a little tiny bit of renewed faith in humanity and the goodness of daily life, and all that fuzzy stuff.

Here’s why:

1. Nature is awesome, obviously, and so is the universe. It was incredibly striking to see a natural phenomenon in so many ways–the burning crescent through the eclipse glasses, its reflection in the crescent-shaped shadows that people instagrammed, and the further reflection of this splendor in the awe on everyone’s faces as they looked up. And then there was the phenomenon of everyone standing together, looking up at the same time, peacefully. Which brings me to…

2. So much sharing and cooperation! People were willingly sharing glasses with friends, colleagues and strangers. Walking through NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood, I’ve never seen more on-the-spot generosity, and it was happening everywhere from fancy rooftop bars to parks and playgrounds. Sometimes—well, let’s be honest, a lot recently—I have begun to think that human nature is essentially petty and cruel. But yesterday reminded me that the instinct to share a magical moment with our fellow humans is very much part of our psyches, too.

3. Everyone got super crafty and science-project geeky. White sheets strewn under trees, well-placed colanders, pinhole viewers and old-fashioned cereal box camera obscura creations. Instead of making culturally appropriative Halloween costumes, America actually put its creativity to use in a super positive way, and it was a pleasure to behold. Those elementary school taping and scissor skills we once learned were hard at work, all for the love of science.

Bonus: A certain President looked up at the sun despite warnings, his flirtation with blindness becoming an apt metaphor for the moral blindness we saw after Charlottesville.

It was a fitting cap to the festivities.

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