All That Movement

The eclipse moved me.

Before the eclipse last Monday, I took myself to a manuscript showing at Harvard. It was a worthy side-trip on a beautiful day before I plopped myself in a field to stare at the sun for a few hours.

It is clear that many human societies figured out how to calculate eclipses. Those eclipses had meanings for those societies. The ability to calculate eclipses goes back thousands of years.

These manuscripts at Harvard were European and American. There was one — specifically one from 1100-something in Latin – that reminded me of a conundrum.

European Christian scientists/mathematicians could calculate when eclipses would happen. In 1100, those European Christians proclaimed that all the heavenly bodies rotated around the Earth. The math and observation did not match up with the idea that the Earth was the center of the Universe and all the other heavenly bodies rotated around it. But, 400-something years before Copernicus, someone was writing in Latin about eclipses to come.

Thinking about physical motion:


One thing that an eclipse does to me is to give me a sense of movement.  I am on a planet that is spinning and moving around the sun. I don’t feel the motion. By watching the moon move, I can imagine the movement of the Earth as I know it to be, even though I can’t feel it.

As I looked at the moon, I could see its movement in relation to the sun and my spot on Earth. I tried to picture the actual movement that was occurring at that moment. It was hard to imagine that I was moving, too – even though I know I was.

Great. Not only am I a tiny human on a big planet whirling through space, but I am also a simplistic soul who can’t wrap her head around reality.

The next fastest thing I travel on, besides planet Earth, is an airplane. Other than takeoff, landing, or turbulence, I don’t feel that either. Watching the clouds or the land roll away under the plane creates that same sense of wonder, because I know I am moving, but I don’t really feel it.

Same thing happens on highway road trips. Once the car is rolling at a steady clip, I don’t feel it. There is a part of me that still can’t fully wrap my head around the disconnect between what I know to be true and what I sense with my body.

Am I the only one who feels little this week?


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