“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton
The Big Event has passed. In any one place in the country it lasted a scant two and a half minutes, yet the preparation that preceded it took weeks. We experienced a rare, total solar eclipse as it cut a path across the heart of our country. There won’t be a cosmic event like it for at least another seven years, so we celebrated the eclipse in appropriate fashion. We bought special glasses, took time off work, traveled to small town destinations, packed hotels, pitched tents, and on August 21st, we gazed at the sky. We watched the moon swallow the light of our sun, and when the sunlight fully emerged on the other side, we clapped and cheered. Some even wept with emotion.
I experienced the eclipse moderately. I created my own little pinhole observation tool, walked away from my desk at the appropriate time, and saw the shadow of reflection on cardboard. I admit it was impressive, even as an illustration of shadow on paper but the enormity of the event was evident to me in ways that transcended science.
Personally, the dimming light that spread over the landscape, felt eerie. When the sky is blue and the scattered clouds are billowy white, my brain and my body expect sunlight, not shadow. Even though I knew the darkness was coming; despite the excitement in the media, and the exact predictions of forecasters, I still felt oddly uncomfortable for those few moments of duskiness on a sunny day. Something is not right, whispered my brain. And of course, I could explain it logically; the passage of the Moon between the Earth and its Sun, but still, when the sun was once again fully exposed and bore down it’s brilliance, I felt a sense of relief. The world is as it should be again. Whew!
There is another Path of Totality sweeping across our country. It has little to do with physical science, but everything to do with biology. This other Path of Complete Darkness is seeping into a wider swath of shadow. It carves a divide across the heart of our country and fingers out to each coast. It travels through busy cities and remote landscapes, and we observe it every day with familiarity that borders on apathy. In one word, think of this Path of Totality as Intolerance.
Intolerance of the opinion, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, origin or image of another human being. This Path of Totality is not a rare event of darkness that temporarily obscures our light. It is deliberate action, or inaction, that we teach to our children and reinforce with our example. Children are not born with this darkness. Children are born into it. This obscurity of hatred that has settled over our world feels more than eerie to me. I am more than oddly uncomfortable with what I see on the news and read in the newspaper. The darkness created by our Path of Totality is not the effect of a cosmic body, and therefore out of our control. But how much shadow must we experience before we become the light?
The solution seems unattainable. How can we, individually stop the spread of this darkness? Again, one word…practice.
When I was in the seventh grade, girls basketball came to my hometown. I couldn’t wait to participate, but when I complained to my dad that I wasn’t immediately recognized by my coach as the amazing talent that I thought I was, my dad said, “There’s a basketball hoop on our driveway. Go out there every day and practice.” In other words, stop complaining and do something about it.
If we want to expose the light in our world, we need to fully participate in the practice of either being the light, or reflecting it. Creating the glow of tolerance comes from practicing tolerance. How we wish to be treated by another should be evident in our actions. If we practice kindness and compassion, we will cultivate kindness and compassion. If we wish to not be judged, then why would we, ourselves, judge?
The darkness created by this other Path of Totality will not pass in under three minutes. We don’t need to travel across the country or pay extra for a hotel room to be in its direct path. It is upon us. We don’t need special glasses to observe intolerance, in fact we might even turn away as the events unfold on the TV screen. But if we practice, at home, within our own orb of influence, a corona of loving kindness will slowly grow. The light created in your life will illuminate another. And another. And as the radiance of tolerance grows we will have reason for celebration. And those who are moved to do so, may even weep.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.