This week we had an eclipse. It was the best thing that has happened to America in a long time. Listen to the opening of this Radiolab episode for an example of people’s reactions all along the path of totality. Everyone went outside and looked up and turned into children for five minutes. It’s a common occurrence that everyone on Twitter converges on to one topic, usually to trash it; today seems to be something about Taylor Swift, but I have a strange disease where whenever her name is mentioned I stop listening. This time, we all marveled at the same thing in person, a natural phenomenon that made us reexamine the world in literally a new light, even if just for a few minutes. Here in NYC I took my son to the Great Lawn in Central Park and set up shop on the north side, in a nice shaded spot with a great view of the lawn and the city below. My wife used her lunch break to run up and join us. It was busy but not crowded. Everyone was there for the same reason, and lots of smiles were exchanged between strangers. We only had a partial eclipse, just under 80%, but it was still enough to cast a strange light across the city and cause people to applaud when the clouds parted just a few minutes before the peak. As I said online, everyone cheered at the sky. I wish that happened more often.
Later in the week on a walk with my son I went up the Hudson. Coming towards me on the path was a kid with a little Maltese on a leash. The dog spotted a man sunbathing just off the path, propped up on his elbows reading. The dog did that classic dog move of walking up to him to be petted without really asking if he’d pet him. Like he made himself available if pats were on the table. The guy smiled at the dog and that was all he needed; he ran up into his face and started licking him like crazy. The man and the boy laughed. A few minutes later I passed an older woman on a bench with birds and squirrels gathered around her. She tossed a peanut to a squirrel, who immediately put it in his mouth with his front paws and ran off. The woman and I made eye contact and smiled.
I shared experiences big and small this week with strangers, and my week was better for it.
Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.