"There is no absolute standard of magnitude." - John Gardner
On August 21st, there will be a total solar eclipse — the first of its kind since 1979. It will be visible within a roughly 70 mile wide path, which looks a bit like a homecoming sash across the United States. It will last 2-3 minutes, depending on location.
Oh Eclipse. How magical you will be.
And while your astronomical roots are fascinating, yours is also a tale of understanding light, dark, and relativity.
Historically, the term eclipse, or to be eclipsed, is a negative; meaning to be blotted out, covered up, or overpowered.
An eclipse can take the form of a personal struggle, a setback, a loss. In sport, it can be injury, age, loss of motivation. These events blot out our light, our sun.
But to surrender to the notion that these darknesses exist in totality - and are permanent - would be as foolish as to believe that the moon is as big as the sun. And that darkness will never subside.
Like the moon in its two minutes of fame, problems can feel all encompassing and total. We can be gripped by apprehension, anxiety, and a throat tightening fear that this is it… this is my unhappy reality… forever. But then it passes. Or we learn how to survive, and change.
I’ve had many eclipse-like moments in my life. A broken heart, a death in the family, a lost job, or a convergence of bad news. And always that stomach gnawing, head-pounding end-times anxiety “I feel _____ (sad, scared, afraid, broken, etc). Will it ever go away?!”
But the sun and the moon get the last laugh.
They continue on their paths.
And the light returns.
Eclipse is a call to persist.
As women, as athletes, as runners, we know that we can endure. That we have an unholy capacity to keep going (some say it’s a result of our biology; able to create life, withstand childbirth, and provide for offspring). Women are strong as hell, burning bright and with constancy like the sun.
Eclipse is a dare for acceptance.
When we’re tested, it’s not just about squeezing our eyes shut, waiting for the threat to pass. Like the protective glasses we’ll wear on August 21st, we learn to welcome the darkness. Or, like the elite athletes in my life have taught me to do, we invite the (pain, fear, darkness, etc) into the core of our being, and in doing so, take away its power.
Eclipse is a reminder of female complexity.
Women are complex. And diverse. And flawed. And contradictory. We have great powers for good, but we are also fallible. Eclipse, and the incongruence of light and dark, reminds us that we have more work to do. Culturally, we need stories, heroes, athletes, narratives that cast women beyond stereotypes such as the good girl, the temptress, or the earth mother.
Eclipse is an invitation.
From us to you. To keep running through every spectrum of light and dark. And as the season goes on, and the days get shorter, to continue. To embrace the winds. The cold. The long trails, and nearby roads. To be able to venture out solo, or to stick together - with your crew - through the short, cold hours.
It is the thread through darkness. From us to you, and from you into the world…your beautiful, temporary, dark and lovely ECLIPSE.