By Js Kendrick
In case you missed…and I have no idea how you could have…we had an eclipse this past Monday. For those of us who live in the contiguous United States it was quite a show. Passing from the west coast to the east coast. The eclipse was all over the news and throngs of people went to view the eclipse, to be in the path of totality.
There was also the scary bit about the moon melting. Oh? did you miss that part on the news? I’m sorry you missed it. It was a big deal here at my house. Because when the moon goes in front of the sun, well, come on! It’s the Sun! The moon was definitely going to melt. Or burn up, either way, the moon was toast.
Despite that little thing called Science, to a 6-year-old boy, the whole idea of the moon blocking out the sun is a tad concerning. Simply because he lacked perspective. Actually that has been going around a lot lately, but I digress. My son Nick had a concern which I needed to address.
Being 6, and fairly smart for his age, and me being very childish for my age, he had me puzzled as to how to explain it. I showed him diagrams, even videos, explained the Sun is approximately 93,000,000 miles away from Earth. And that the Moon is around 239,000 away…so we had a good 92,750,000 miles and some change, comfort zone. Nada. Just didn’t compute. He could not grasp the concept.
I would have to say his concern wasn’t exactly real. He didn’t break out the tinfoil and fashion a hat. Nor did he carry water jugs down to the basement. But he did ask if it was going to rain ‘moon drops’ when the sun melted the moon. I just narrowed my eyes and wondered if he was pulling my leg on all this.
What Nick lacked was understanding of the science. What was going to happen when the moon passed between the earth and sun? He just couldn’t fathom how it wasn’t going to be a catastrophe. Yet Mom and Dad were not panicking, nor were the neighbors packing their bags and heading for an underground bunker. So he knew that, yet it didn’t quite make sense to him.
Then, on Sunday, out on our front deck I had an epiphany. Nick was standing against the railing as I sat in a chair and I realized I couldn’t see the mail box. He was blocking my view.
“Hey Nick.” I said.
“Yes?” He said knowing dad was going to try to explain this eclipse thing again.
“Come with me, I want to show you something.” I said getting up and taking him to the mailbox.
Our mailbox is on a wooden post that stands about 5 feet tall. Nick isn’t there yet, he’s about 4 foot 5 inches. So, I used the post as comparison. Then took him back to the deck and I had him sit in the chair.
“Can you see the post?” As I stood where he did. Blocking his view.
“No, but you’re taller.” He said, got me there. I scooched over.
“Can you see our neighbors door?” I asked. He frowned. The door was taller than me, wider too. Yet I blocked it. He frowned then smiled.
“No.” He said. I pointed to our neighbors door and told him that is the Sun, and then at myself and said I was the Moon.
“I’m on earth?” He said. I nodded. Then I pointed to the sky.
“You’ve been on a plane before right? The plane is pretty big, bigger than a school bus, but when you see one up in the sky how big is it?” I asked.
“Little.” Full smiles now as the wheels turned in his head.
“Yeah, you can block it with your hand, and you known that the plane is bigger than your hand. So, see? That’s why the moon won’t melt, it’s perspective, how you see it, compared to what its actual size is. The Sun is really far away, too far to melt the moon.” He nodded, seemed to grasped the concept and went off to play, content that the moon would not melt. Although disappointed it wasn’t going to rain ‘moon drops’.
So we had an eclipse on Monday. The moon passed between the earth and the sun. The moon is still there, didn’t melt a bit. And I was able to explain perspective to my son.
The moral of this story is Perspective. In life, we often encounter problems that seem disastrous. Overwhelming and beyond our control. Yet often it is simply a matter of perspective. It may not be as severe as the Moon being melted by the Sun, and yes, at the time the problem can cause great distress and be daunting beyond belief, but years later, we tend to look back at those hiccups in our lives, placing them in perspective, and realizing that as bad as it was then, it could have been worse. You know, the Earth could have melted.