Waking up to rainbows and an accidental afternoon nap.
My sleep schedule is consistently inconsistent. I’ve learned that to feel fully rested, I need roughly 7-8 hours of sleep. However, my diurnal body also has an affinity for the hours between midnight and sunrise. My recent sleep-related quirk has been waking up at 4:30 every morning. I can trace this all the way back to Election Day because it was the same day as the eclipse. I set an alarm for 4am to make sure I had enough time to get all wrapped up in a blanket before heading out to my porch to share a cup of tea with the moon and sun.
I’ve seen a handful of lunar eclipses and blood moons that inspired a sense of wonderment and confusion about the universe above. Seeing them feels like taking a peek behind the curtain of an astronomical theatrical play. I’ve wandered deep into the mountains with friends at night just so we could nestle into sleeping bags underneath skies decorated with an infinite amount of stars. We used to travel far into the Blue Ridge Mountains to escape the light pollution from our hazy little mountain city just so that we could catch the Milky Way. I spent 10 days traveling across the country with a stranger who insisted that I slept outside of the car in my hammock. I spent those nights admiring the stars as they glittered across the sky while swaying in the breeze of whatever desert, forest, or truck stop we decided to stop at. Looking up at the night sky is a reminder of how small we are, but also for how lucky and terrifying it is to exist within such a beautiful, eternal space.
I saw a solar eclipse for the first time in 2016. I booked a one-way ticket to Indonesia and decided to follow a friend to Sulawesi. I wasn’t exactly sure what the eclipse would be like, but the photos on the internet looked pretty cool so I agreed to build bamboo structures for two weeks in exchange for a hot meal and free housing until the night of the eclipse. I saw my second eclipse in 2017. I was living in Eugene, OR and I met up with some of the friends from the previous year in Eastern Oregon. I cannot begin to describe the emotions I felt during both of these encounters, they are unlike anything I have ever experienced. Within the few short minutes of totality, it felt like my entire being was a tessellation of every emotional experience I’ve ever felt, but also those I have yet to feel. There was no space for emptiness. Seeing an eclipse inspired an unshakable sense of uncertainty for where, how, or why I occupy the space I’m in.
The origin of the word “eclipse” comes from the Greek word for “disappearance.” The Greeks, along with countless other groups of people, saw eclipses as a sign of some sign of astronomical, celestial wrath. Humans have been seeing eclipses since.. well, the beginning of our time on this earth. Before the scientific revolution, we didn’t have an understanding of what was actually happening. However, humans have always turned to mythology in an attempt to make sense of the unpredictable world happening around us — like when the moon suddenly crosses over the sun creating what looks like a giant glowing black hole within the sky above. I read a book over the summer that talked about the various historical accounts of how humans both interpreted and responded to astronomical events. In Siberia, they feared that the sun was being drained by a vampire. In Vietnam, the moon was being devoured by a beastly frog. In India, eclipses were believed to be caused by a Hindu demon named Rahu’s unwavering commitment to seek revenge on the sun and the moon. In Argentina, people hit the streets to scream into the sky to scare a celestial jaguar from devouring the sun. To save the moon from Loki’s demon dog, the Nordic people shouted into the sky to scare them both away. In North America, some Indigenous groups lit arrows on fire and shot them into the sky to help the sun regain its strength. I’ll save my Joseph Campbell-inspired delight for another post, because I can talk about mythology for hours on end.
My experience with the eclipse was different, mostly because we have the ability to determine where the exact location for future eclipses will be, but also why they are happening. Everyone around me knew what was about to happen, but it didn’t make the experience any more predictable. Totality only lasts a couple of minutes, but within that short time frame, I also chose to look at those around me. I spent my minutes of totality crying, laughing, smiling, shaking, wincing, embracing, shrinking, panicking, praying, radiating, expanding, holding hands, and so on with all the human beans all around me.
Sidebar: Hi Marc, I will never not refer to human beings and human beans.
Anyway, I almost forgot why I started talking about eclipses, so lets get back to my inconsistent sleep cycle and why I thought about eclipses so much today. Ever since that eclipse in November, I’ve been waking up somewhere between 4-5am every day. It’s like my body cannot shake the idea that something cool might be happening outside and I need to be awake just in case. Luckily, I normally fall back asleep for a couple of hours. So, I’m pinning the blame for my current disrupted sleep cycle on that one early morning celestial tea party back in November.
I’m not really sure why I spent so much time thinking about eclipses today, or why I deliberately chose to spend the day at home looking at the random specks of lights and streaks of rainbows that occur daily around my house. I woke up to catch the brilliant light show of rainbows that occurs in my room every morning at 8am. I caught the specks of light being casted all across my kitchen from the hanging disco ball above the dining room table. I brought my book into the living room around noon which was covered in streaks of rainbows from the “this must be the place” sun catcher hidden behind a very sad inch plant hanging from yet another disco ball. Instead of reading, I decided to snuggle up with Nimbus and listen to an old playlist on my couch. I don’t know if it’s the fatigue from getting minimal sleep over the past few days, or if it was the relaxing nature of the day, but I accidentally took a 2-hour nap.
I am not a napper, even though its all I’ve ever wanted to be. My “naps” usually consist of me laying on my bed with my eyes closed for an hour or so. So, aside from daydreaming about astronomical events, catching various light shows around my house, and snuggling with my cat, I’d say that taking my first real nap in a loooooong time was an absolute delight.