Note: I wrote this piece the day after I experienced the total eclipse, so time referenced is of that period, not this.

Yesterday I watched as the moon fully covered the sun, revealing its beautiful corona, revealing darkness where daylight should have been, revealing people from all walks celebrating nature and our amazing universe.

Yesterday also marked one year since ___ broke off our engagement.

Before the eclipse, I spent the day thinking about what ___ did, and how he did it (over email) and how it affected my past year: devastation, depression, a crushing fear that it might be better to wall off my heart and be done with it.

But as I drove around in the beautiful, green countryside of South Carolina I thought about that and I thought about the eclipse, and why I’d traveled hours south to be in the path of totality. It reaffirmed something about me that I’d forgotten over the past six years: I only allow experiences that add to who I am to have a lasting effect. The ones that threaten to take away are left behind as dim memories. Because of that, I actively search for experiences that will impact me in the most positive ways. And because of that ___ and his reasons for breaking our engagement are no longer important to me.

I’m called an optimist and idealist by friends all the time. It’s not that I disagree. I generally do think the best of people and life and I believe that my ideals are worth pursuing. These only describe me because while they may describe how I think, they don’t describe what I do. It’s important to make this distinction because knowledge of the self and motivations are vital to living by intention.

I consciously put myself in the path of totality, and that’s where I intend to live until my last day. I like the phrase “path of totality.” Astrologically it is the track of the moon’s umbral shadow over Earth’s surface. For me, psychically, (emotionally, personally, whatever term you like) it means the life path I choose in order to be the entire human being I am meant to be. And among other things, what I am mostly is a woman who lives with her heart wide open.

I sometimes wonder what attracts people to me. I’m not beautiful, I don’t have a sexy body, I’m not the kindest, most generous, or most loyal person I know. I’m not the smartest, either.  Sure, I have enough of all of that to get by, but not enough to make me stand out. What makes me stand out is my heart. My heart is wide open for everyone to see and, here’s the hard part, for anyone to take what they need. Best case scenario for me is to live with others who follow the “give a penny, take a penny” rule. Worst case is to live among takers. I usually have lots of “pennies” saved up, but eventually they run out and there I am, expected to keep giving when there’s obviously nothing left in the penny cup.

What does all this have to do with the solar eclipse? The event itself? Well, as I sat watching the moon cover the sun, I had this eerie feeling that something mystical was happening. I understand the astronomy of a total eclipse. I know that it is fully explained by science. I’m not anti-science at all. But if a big part of “I am” is that I allow positive experiences to affect me deeply, then by traveling to South Carolina to watch the eclipse, I was creating an experience that could be deeply meaningful. And when you experience events that, in the grand scheme of your life, have a deep impact, you feel it through the whole core of your being.

My heart raced as the light dimmed. I’d snap a picture, look up through my eclipse glasses, stare in amazement at the light and shadows all around, then do it all over again. All the while I felt intense emotions welling up inside me. Gratitude and joy and wonder. I felt brave for no reason, then the sun was suddenly fully covered and I understood the feeling.

When the sun is totally eclipsed, you can stare at it, unprotected. What you see is a white glow around a big black circle: the corona. It’s beautiful in a way that anything rare is beautiful, only there I am, a puny little human being in the face of a giant fire ball, and I’m staring it down.

Even more relevant is the idea that the light of the sun is so powerful that even when fully covered by darkness it still shines bright around the edges. And that’s me, the bright light around the edges. I love so hard and so strong that even when I’m totally obliterated by people and life I will still shine. And that shine is a promise that with trust and patience my light, like the sun’s, will shine full and powerful as ever in only a little while.

And that, my friends, is why I traveled to watch the total eclipse.

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