Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Total eclipse of the train

Tokyo is a busy city.  Thirty-six million people go call the region home, and go about their industrious, detailed lives with an energy and rigor unique on this planet. It is hard to know exactly what they are thinking; Japanese culture creates an aura or privacy and personal space that the geography tries to deny.  And for an outsider accustomed to wide open spaces, the locals here can sometimes seem hard to connect with.  But tonight was different.  While 8 o’clock is still the tail end of rush-hour in the hard working town, and Wednesday is hump day here as surely as it is everywhere else, this did not change the alignment of the sun and planets. 400,000 kilometers away, the full moon crossed the ecliptic, and the Earth, for an hour, blotted out the light of the sun on its airless surface.

And in that hour, the residents of Tokyo, and Melbourne, and Fiji, and Denver and Mt. Isa and countless other countries ‘round the Pacific stopped what they were doing, looked up at the sky, and watched the white light of the moon grow red and dim. The electricity and data kept flowing, the trains kept leaving, the advertisements kept flashing, the mechanical metabolism of the metropolis rumbled on unchecked, but for a brief moment, a short while, or a lazy hour, the inhabitants put aside the clockwork of their lives, looked up, and saw a distant world pass through our collective shadow.

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