Detours in Life
“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they really don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
Steve Jobs said the above quote and while I do not know the exact setting in which it was said, I do know the multiple settings to which it could apply. In fact, they all can be summarized in one word – life. Tomorrow the earth will undergo a total eclipse of the sun. For some, it will be a spiritual event and for others, a most frightening one which will bring to remind all sorts of superstitions. How one figuratively views this eclipse will be determined by their living and so, this week, we will discuss detours and perspective.
A solar eclipse occurs when the earth’s moon passes between the sun and the earth. This results in the moon fully or partially blocking the sun. On August 21st, a total eclipse will occur, meaning the disk of the sun will be completely blocked and fully obscured by the moon. Such an event is called a syzygy, the alignment of three celestial bodies in a straight line configuration.
One important thing to remember about syzygy is that it occurs between opposing things. ON Monday, August 21st, the primary celestial body of the daylight hours known as the sun will be aligned with the primary celestial body of the nighttime, the moon and both of these will be in alignment with the planet earth. The sky on the earth will grow a little dark as the moon obscures the sun but not everyone’s perspective will be the same and it will still be obviously daylight hours.
Goreville, Illinois is a small town but it is there that the eclipse will last the longest. The totality of the sun in Goreville will take about two and one half minutes. The just fewer than two thousand people who call Goreville home will undoubtedly be sharing their view with many others but people across the United States will experience the eclipse in their own fashion.
I am currently in an area with a great view for watching the solar eclipse this year and people have stood in line for hours to obtain a pair of safety glasses for doing just that. It is most important that no one attempt to view a solar eclipse without proper protective eye protection. Serious damage can occur to your eyes unless you take the proper precautions. Many people are eager to experience what they consider a once-in-a-lifetime event – a solar eclipse.
Again, perspective is an important element in an eclipse. First, solar eclipses are not rare. They actually occur about every eighteen months. According to Joe Rao, writing for space.com, “It is a popular misconception that the phenomenon of a total eclipse of the sun is a rare occurrence. Quite the contrary. Approximately once every 18 months (on average) a total solar eclipse is visible from some place on the Earth’s surface. That’s two totalities for every three years. But how often is a total solar eclipse visible from a specific location on Earth? That’s another story altogether. “
It is estimated with great accuracy that a viewing station will experience a total solar eclipse once every three hundred and sixty to three hundred and seventy-five years. That is once every three-and-a-half life times. However, because there are different types of eclipses, a viewing station will probably experience an eclipse once every twelve to eighteen months.
What if we took a detour from our normal everyday living to align ourselves with something opposite, or something we might never had imagines doing? What type of syzygy could that create? Would the result be chaos or could we possibly find peace?
For approximately an hour on August 21st, people will come together to experience a solar eclipse. Regardless of color, race, creed, religion, socioeconomic level or musical taste, we will all experience the same thing, although with different perspectives. For that brief time we will stretch our imaginations and be amazed at the brief moment of peace that the darkening can create, all the result of syzygy. If we but stretch our belief in the possible, we might just realize we can have a broader understanding of the human experience. We might just stretch into finding better designs for our future living.