By Brian McKay
It started out as another dumb thing. To put it in context, I seem to have a lifetime of dumb things behind me. Some truly silly businesses that haven’t worked, some seriously bad relationship picks, tripping face first into a house after having a little too much fun… You get the idea.
As of today, I now acknowledge that when I see dollar signs, things are not going to turn out well. Last weekend, prior to the eclipse, wasn’t any different as I went to a convenience store to purchase eclipse glasses at the cost of $10 in lottery tickets for each pair. Yep, this guy bought $500 worth. Not bright.
There had been word that Amazon was selling out at $200 a pair. They were going for up to $60 in Salt Lake City. Being near the path of totality with thousands pouring into the area, I was going to make a killing. Dumb, dumb and more dumb.
Offering the glasses all over online commenced at $50 a pair. No takers. I did get called an asshole many times though. Slowly the price kept dropping. $35 and then $25 and then $15. A few sold. Even offering them for what I paid on Facebook resulted in being called an asshole. I had spent $500 to be called names and impact my reputation.
At the same time, there was a debate as to whether my daughter and I would brave the craziness to see the totality of the eclipse. It could be a crazy slow drive. Maybe it’d be a whole day. Here in Boise it was possible to see 99.5% of totality. Wasn’t that enough? What was the big deal in the difference? It could be seriously dumb as well, but it had to be risked for her. She had wanted this for months.
On Saturday, the time was taken to scratch the barcodes on the scratch tickets. All 100 had to be scanned at the c-store. $250 was the result of that $500 investment. It was no surprise. Who really plays those dumb things? At least now there was a chance to get back to even.
Emails, Facebook message requests, signs, writing that I had glasses for sale on my car; ugh. It seems I am the shittiest sales guy ever. Standing on the side of the road sucked. Dealing with people sucked. Looking at a pile of expensive glasses in the car, really sucked.
Monday came. Traffic had been non-existent on Sunday, so we decided to leave for Emmett, Idaho at 7.30 am. A ton of glasses were left. Also, a ton of emails were coming in for them. Seriously, who waited until the morning of? It was too late. McKenna and I were on the road.
Shockingly, the drive went super-fast. Where 3 hours had been expected, it only took 40 minutes. Time to wait around little Emmett for 2 hours. What a great time to stand outside of the car, waive around handfuls of glasses and thoroughly embarrass my child. People would pull up and say, “How much?” I’d respond, “Well I was dumb and paid $10 a pair. Make me an offer.”
Some paid $4, some paid $10 and most paid $5. Some had even been given away to a favorite bar the night before. Hallelujah, they were gone. It was done. I was a little over even and those funds would be just enough to celebrate with 4 glasses of wine, later that evening. They were the most expensive glasses of wine ever.
This had been a truly dumb thing. I was still winning the race to the dumb things record.
Would this drive be a dumb thing too?
Arriving at the park in Emmett we realized that there would be 30 seconds of totality. It wasn’t very long. What was this totality thing and how was 30 seconds worth all this? It was for her to experience though and this dad / daughter experience was important.
The app said that a 25-mile drive to a couple houses called the town of Sweet, would get us a minute and 20 seconds. It was worth it. We were out of there 30 minutes into the eclipse and arrived at a great road side location at 11.10 am (16 minutes before the big moment).
Well guess what? This wasn’t dumb. It was as far from dumb as could be. It was spectacular.
Experiencing the totality of an eclipse is like nothing you have ever felt. Slowly the moon creeps up on the sun and it starts to get darker and darker. You are watching this happen through those damn glasses that stole my weekend, but it’s exciting. It feels exhilarating. What will it be like when the sun is fully covered? The environment around looks changed and feels different already.
The last sliver of sun disappeared at 11:26.40. As the nice people in the truck next to us played Dark Side of the Moon, the glasses came off, the cheers started and the corona of the sun shone around the moon. We felt the temperature drop 10 degrees, it was dark and it felt like nothing I’ve ever felt. Suddenly, this thing that had been questionable became a minute and 20 seconds of spiritual enlightenment.
Feeling the world very differently than it was meant to be was the difference. It wasn’t supposed to be like this at this time of day. You could look up at the sun and see this amazing ring of fire that encircled the moon. For that short period of time, your whole outlook changes. No matter where you are in your life or your emotional state, nothing else exists accept the present. No worry, no loneliness, no stress, no hate… just being in the present.
Most of us can never fully achieve such a state of being. Spiritual leaders might train their whole lives to reach that point. It is something you expect of the Dali Lama but never in yourself. You get it for this moment without the lifetime of training needed!
What I thought would be just the moon going in front of the sun and no big deal, was so much more.
Now it makes sense why people follow eclipses. I now understand a feeling I have never felt and I desperately want to feel it again, for that short period of time.
No, this was certainly not a dumb thing. This was one of the smartest things I have ever done. The hours to get home didn’t matter. All the people didn’t matter. My daughter and I had shared an amazing moment where we got to lose everything for a little over a minute. We will find another and go.