An Ideal Totality Experience
Planning and intention for optimal neural resonance, by Bill Softky
To a physicist like me, “ideal” isn’t something people should aspire to, or feel insulted about not attaining. It’s more an over-simplified example to illustrate a point. So if I go on and on about how a frictionless surface is ideal, it doesn’t mean you need to wax your kitchen floor.
In this case, I want to describe the ideal way to experience Totality — viewing a total solar eclipse — although none of our actual trips could live up to it. The spiritual experience I want to simplify and optimize is the one I described here:
“Looking God in the eye” binds your nervous system to the Universe, by Bill Softkymedium.com
Based on glitches and high points of my recent trip to John Day, a convergence of life-long friends from all over the country in one motel, here are some suggestions, organized by role. So you can help others appreciate their once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage, even if you don’t go yourself.
Media commentators should tilt heavily toward optimism. Because of all the media warnings about traffic jams and shortages, our group brought and cooked all our food ourselves, and barely ate in town. Turns out the town was well-prepared, and there was plenty of food in groceries and plenty of seats in restaurants. This story played out everywhere.
In John Day, local communities and roadways were in fact perfectly prepared, but the lopsided ratio in the media of scare-mongering (which is easy) compared to informed reassurance (which is slower, more expensive, and less immediately entertaining) meant in the end that lots of people stayed away who could have come, and lots of merchants didn’t even make back their investments. Huge human losses on both sides, just for extra media profit. Hey, media people: Yes, I know you get paid to drive clicks or revenue right now. I did too once. So if you want to do it ethically, bias your coverage in the opposite direction, to undo the filtering of the medium itself.
Vendors should not break trust. My friends reserved thirty rooms two years ago, before Eclipse Fever, for $79 each per night, and saved his confirmation. A month or so ago, after Eclipse Fever, the hotel unilaterally cancelled all of them, now asking $800 each, using the excuse that a confirmation was not a legal contract. My friend hired a lawyer and negotiated numbers and prices three times worse (each) than he had reserved or planned on. (The same thing happened to my wife: her reservation in another town a week before got cancelled the very morning by a hotel clerk who claimed her failure to pick up her mobile phone during a performance meant she didn’t still want the room). If reservations only count when prices don’t go up, they don’t mean much, and people won’t trust them. If you really feel taken advantage of, find a way to solve the problem in human terms, without fine print.
Participants should connect stress-free. If the whole point of the experience is to connect, then people should agree well in advance where they want to be and when to get there, how close to stand, how much sound to have, and so forth.
The ideal location would be total silence out in Nature, with nothing to disturb the spontaneous awestruck sounds of animals and humans. No boom-boxes or generators. Try to find a place with few clouds, and if possible views of all horizons, so you can feel the full-surround effect. And as with weddings, on the day of, the less haggling and arguing, the better. It’s all about mood, right?
And of course lay off group texts unless they’re crucial. Texts cause interruptions, and interruptions cause anxiety far more than reassurance. Group texts multiply that tenfold. If instead everyone’s behavior is tilted toward calming and reassuring, and tilted away from electronic interaction, then everyone will be prepared to bond over the most amazing sensory experience there is. Enjoy!