“A time when someone or something starts to seem less successful or important, because another person or thing has become more successful or important than they are”
The word comes from ekleipsis, which in ancient Greek means abandonment.
We are all celestial bodies, alone in space.
We are susceptible to each other’s gravitational pull. We can emanate tremendous heat and power. We can enlighten each other. We circle around each other admiringly, on incomprehensible, invisible orbits, a beautiful, cosmic dance that could surely last for eternity.
A great friendship, wrote Martin Buber, “breaches the barriers of a lofty solitude, subdues its strict law, and throws a bridge from self-being to self-being across the abyss of dread of the universe."
We look for those bridges everywhere. We cling to whatever makes us feel less full of dread, including work, alcohol, sex, sports, spirituality. More than three-quarters of Americans believe in angels. Because there is just so much terrifying space out there. When asked what humans are most afraid of, Kierkegaard would reply: “We are most afraid of nothing.”
We cling to each other. And inevitably at some point our shadows put each other in the shade. Our personal orbits clash, or one gets skewed by the strong magnetic field of the other. We lose our freedom, our sense of self. Maybe we even collide, or end up spewing smouldering, deadly meteors at each other in the divorce courts, or becoming engulfed in each other's flames in front of a live TV audience. Love can tear us apart.
Faced with either being alone or risking getting burned from being too close, many will willingly settle for some kind of cosy compromise midway between the two, half in relationship and half out, a standoff—somewhat connected, partially married, semi-sedated.
Writes Irvin Yalom: “Each of us is alone in existence. Yet aloneness can be shared in such a way that love compensates for the pain of isolation.”
Friendships, partners, crushes, infatuations, hookups, one-offs—they all come and go. We give and we take love along the way. But your relationship with yourself? That, my friend, is for ever. Can you accept who you are, and who you are becoming? Can you live with all the light and shade, the self-criticism, the shame and the guilt and the awful memories? Can you love all the imperfections and faults and weaknesses in you? And in other people, too? And can you do all this knowing for sure that we will never really know ourselves, and never really know another?
The historic blood red moon last night is not an apocalyptic omen signalling the end of days. It is not a reason to get spooked, hesitate, and lose out, as Nicias did in the Second Battle of Syracuse in 413. It is instead a good omen.
Maybe you have been eclipsed. You feel hurt, betrayed, disappointed, unappreciated, abandoned, ignored, rejected, ghosted. The sun will rise again, it will be a new day, and you will see everything differently, as if for the first time. The red moon has already faded, but its message remains indelibly etched across the sky: never again will you allow anyone or anything to eclipse your relationship with you.
“If I am not for myself, who will be?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?"