The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Life Lesson: What Extraordinary Moments Can Teach Us About the Everyday
Wednesday August 23, 2017

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“The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things.” —Veronique Vienne

Perhaps you have heard about the natural phenomenon that occurred Monday for people living in the state of Oregon running through the entire continental United States all the way to  to South Carolina, the total solar eclipse?

I jest, as I am fairly confident, the internet, social media or the news have made sure you knew. And indeed it was a unique moment. The last such moment in which the entire United States, from west to east coast experienced such an event was in 1918 (in 1979, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, experienced a total solar eclipse, but from coast-to-coast, it was not available).

As someone who found herself a few miles from the zone of totality (Madras is 45 miles away), I found it fascinating to observe the attention this event received and the influx of people (it was estimated more than 100,000 people from around the world came into the area of Madras solely for this event; keep in mind, Madras has a population of 7000) who made the trek to experience such a unique moment at a destination they may never visit again.

First of all, we decided to forgo hopping on highway 97 heading north and chose to drive toward Mount Bachelor to one of my favorite high lakes, Hosmer. What greeted us was total solitude. I kid you not, not a soul was on the lake except a multitude of ducks, meandering trout and melodic birds. We paddled with the dogs to a small inlet, anchored our boards and unpacked at the moment the partial eclipse began around 9 am. As the climatic moment approached, my partner, who is a photographer, set the scene for me to capture and hopped on the board heading out onto the lake. The boys and I gazed upward as the sky began to gradually darken and the temperature dip. My partner (seen in the photo above on the paddle board), with Mount Bachelor in the background, South Sister being mirrored in the lake on the left observed the blue sunset which began to occur as the moon inched ever more in front of the sun, and I absorbed the magnificence of the moment I hadn’t expected to feel. 

To say it was surreal would lessen the moment, as it was nearly indescribable. It was magical and pristine and ideally tranquil. And while the image captured above was taken at the moment of eclipse, it’s hard to discern what it truly looked and felt like which may actually be a good thing. Sometimes such moments are special in a way that cannot be conveyed in images, video or the conversation in their retelling. While I am doing my best in today’s post, the reality is, to experience an extraordinary moment is unique to the individual. First the individual must recognize the opportunity, then choose to take it in. Each one of us will do that in a different way, but again, the choice is entirely up to the individual.

But back to the eclipse for a moment: At approximately 10:19, 99.6% of the sun was covered (the highest percentage we in the Bend area were able to experience), and after speaking with campers as we left the parking area, we learned the temperature had dropped seven degrees.

But most important was the lesson it brought to the forefront.

While yes, the 2017 Solar Eclipse was a natural phenomenon, it serves the purpose to remind us all that beauty is everywhere every single day if only we choose to slow down and observe it, absorb it, and be present.

Due to the heightened media attention, preparations by city and government officials as well as residents and travelers, the event was well-known to all to be significant. But do we need to be told when something is significant? Do we need to be witnessing the beauty with millions of people for it to be an event worth slowing down for and savoring?

What Monday’s event, which lasted for 2 minutes and 40 seconds in Kentucky at its longest duration, reminded me was to look for the beauty in every moment, every day, whether or not directed by media, the community, family or friends. Because we can’t wait 99 years for nearly 3 minutes of awe. We must recognize the awe which exists around us all of the time.

When we come to live a life which appreciates the ordinary, as Veronique Vienne points out in the quote above, we elevate our lives to be extraordinary every single day. And who wouldn’t want to live an extraordinary life in the ordinary everyday moments? The only people I have found that scoff at this opportunity are the people who doubt it is possible and have never experienced the joy such a way of approaching life can bring.

Much of what the second book (which we are in the process of editing right now and will release next year) will focus on is exactly how to elevate one’s everyday life to an extraordinary experience each day of the week and throughout our entire lives. Ultimately, it is a shift in each of our minds. A belief followed by conscious actions, ways of living, thinking and being, that enable us to cultivate what to some may seem impossible. The good news is, it is entirely possible. Take for example below a handful of seemingly ordinary moments I observed Monday outside of the eclipse’s occurrence that when fully appreciated reminded me of how sweet and beautiful the life I have the opportunity to live is:

1. Waking up from a deep, restful night’s sleep

2. Two healthy dogs, one (Norman) who is now an awesome paddle boarding buddy; and the other (Oscar) who is the most loyal companion I could ask for

3. Delicious homemade sandwiches made by my partner for our picnic that reminded me of traveling in Europe: toasted sourdough baguette slices, delicately thin slices of pork loin, dill infused harvarti cheese, and fresh Oregon tomatoes wrapped in parchment and waiting to be enjoyed in celebration of what we had the opportunity to experience together while sitting on our little inlet.

4. No mandatory schedule to follow

5. Mother Nature’s exquisite scenery

6. A good book to savor

7. A journal to record my thoughts

8. A backyard to lay about in and listen to the breeze and the birds while the boys napped on the lawn. 

9. Making a lemon tart out of remaining lemon curd from a previous recipe, complete with a buttery, flaky crust

10. Sitting under the outdoor globe lighting on the back porch while enjoying a home-cooked Marbella Chicken recipe tweaked ever so perfectly by my partner to make our mouths water.

11. Pouring through the latest issue of The English Home and gathering more inspiration for cozy, memorable moments.

12. Laughing along with old Portlandia episodes 

The everyday is ripe with beautiful moments to blossom and savor. Look around you. What do you notice that you may have too quickly dismissed or not recognized at all? Often what I have found is by sitting still for only 10 minutes, sometimes meditating, sometimes just resting, my mind settles, finds its balance and gives me the clarity to go about my day in a way that is more calm, less reactive and more appreciative. Because while nature may not offer official ecliptic moments each day, unofficially, we are surrounded by the fact that we are alive, and our lives are ours to manifest into the most wonderful life to live. What changes can you make?


~Why Not . . . Celebrate the Ordinary?

~Why Not . . . Find Pleasure in the Essentials of Life?

~20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everyday Life (episode #144)

Photo: Taken on a Samsung 8, Panoramic setting by TSLL | The Simply Luxurious Life

9 thoughts on “The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Life Lesson: What Extraordinary Moments Can Teach Us About the Everyday

  1. Thank you Shannon for such a lovely post. As I read I am watching and listening to a thunderstorm and reminded that the autumn is on its way by the mist over the fields that our home overlooks. We are very fortunate in being able to travel and my most recent awe inspiring moments were walking towards the Champs Elyse after standing looking up at the Eiffel Tour while my granddaughter rode the carousel. Nothing prepares us for the scale and beauty of such experiences. Never a day goes by without an appreciation of how fortunate we are. Best wishes from the UK.

  2. Shannon:
    Thank you for expressing so beautifully what I have been thinking on occasion of this event. As a 65 year old person, I frequently deplore the lack of wonder that I observe in todays world, the taking for granted of everything, and worry about my grandchildren. Your post today articulate the lessons I am trying to impart to my 5 and 1 years old wonders!
    Gracias mil, for the constant inspiration, Wanda!

  3. What a magnificent place to enjoy the eclipse. That is a stunning photo. Thank you for reminding us to observe the little wonders that make up our existence.

  4. what an amazing photo! So beautiful, and how lucky you both where to be able to enjoy the day so much! Great post, a great reminder to us all to be more mindful each and every day. It has been my mission this year to slow down and try to be fully present for all the great moments I may take for granted!

    Thank you!

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