Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Cross-planetary Shadow-bathing

A much abbreviated account of Cross-planetary Shadow-bathing... read on or listen here.

A while back I was well known as a Total Solar Eclipse Chaser… but nigh on 8 years passed without such an excursion. So quite excitedly the inimitable Brooke Lyndon-Stanford (there’s an explorer’s name) and myself undertook a ‘smash and grab’ eclipse pilgrimage.

Halfway around the world in 80 hours we went… Four planes, a long cab ride, a long boat ride across the equator, another longer baking hot boat ride and a few walking adventures transported us from London Soho office to Desert Island hammock in the Gulf of Tomini, Sulawesi, Indonesia. 

Rather than plot my own course this time, I passengered the last leg aboard a spaceship of the imagination commandeered by the indefatigable Simon and Elsa, salt of the earth friends of Brooke to reach this uncharted ‘Pleasure Island’ in an azure to turquoise sea. We were sixty-eight souls aboard that vessel and not a drop of drink was left by the end of it… though god knows we packed too much of that and too little of water for our tropical cruise*. For this was not your average amateur astronomer brigade, this was a motley-crue of pirate-like solar eclipse chasers. Most, captivated like me by their first experience, had now been on many such excursions, all excellent and all well-seasoned travellers.

As natural phenomena, Total Solar Eclipses are primeval yet highly inspirational experiences. They become these dramatic ‘hourglass’ moments. As if all things in your life have inexorably lead to THIS moment and THIS place, when you are THAT grain of sand in the hourglass, FALLING, in THAT moment, in GRACE… sublime. And after that the whole world opens up again, your life lies before you and you return to it.

Of course all ‘moments' are the same and poignancy frequently found in the mundane… but these eclipse moments grab you in a primordial way… they demand complete presence and attention to the celestial drama. All else disappears, gone is the bank balance, the girl or boy, office politics, family feuds, fear you left the stove on and so on. Not gone is the feeling of being alive on this Earth and in awe and wonder, lapping up the silvery corona, people delighting, an all-round sunset horizon, stars, a chill and the weird otherworldly light as the Moon sweeps across our one true light casting a lucky few in shadow for a precious minute or two.

And here’s the photographic loot acquired …

This eclipse trip was all about the journey and while not restful it was restorative in terms of the need to have adventure. This world is not so small. There are many distant places not in cellphone or Internet coverage. Yet beautiful and friendly people live there and many more were met along the way. One cannot see the size of the mountain until one is far away so I am returned to English shores basking in the afterglow of an adventure well-had and affirmed that this is one hell of an amazing planet to be living this incredible life upon. 

Much Love

Doctor Lobster

A huge thank you to the legend that is Simon and also to Brownie, Hendra, Nuir and Elsa. Arch-organisers!

Sunset the day after the eclipse, Moon Island...  photo by Brooke
The Beautiful Things
selected to keep the
Eclipse Crystal Magic going... 
* As much as a lot of alcohol was consumed it was not by me, I had decided to give up alcohol, wheat, sugar and chocolate for Lent - possibly a daft thing as I am in no way religious. I was caught up with the idea of Lent coinciding with the supposed period of Jesus going into the desert for 40 days and being tempted by the devil… the devil of course just being the thing within us that is hard to resist… and I managed except for a final sunset coffee while humouring some beach kids slingshotting targets in exchange for our remaining rupiah. The imperfect thread weaved into the tapestry.

How many Indonesians does it take to change a light bulb?

I didn’t get the photo of that happening but it was an encounter in a hotel that crystallized what an amazing time I had in Indonesia. There has been a high level of competence on display from everyone and every local I encountered was exceptionally friendly, nice, took the effort to try to understand whatever vague issue I had and then to help. Such a good and positive visit to such a lovely country. Bravo.

Final note:
The next … 21 August 2017… USA… see you there…