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  • Writer's pictureErin

Nature, the body, and burnout: It's all connected

Just before I get into the blog topic for today, I wanted to let you know that for the entire month of April, I am dedicating my online spaces to awareness of climate and environmental health. It's an issue that we all know cannot go untouched - can no longer sit on our back burners - so I'm bringing it to the forefront. Not only will it be the main topic of conversation, but I will also be hosting another donation giveaway centered around an amazing organization this month. For every rating on the podcast (on any streaming service), and every new subscriber to the blog, I will donate $10 to Project Drawdown. They have been praised for their incredible outreach and integrity in their missions, and are truly making a difference in our global environmental health. If you want to help out, this would be one of the easiest ways to do so. Share the blog/podcast with friends who may enjoy it, spread the word, and let's pledge to work on this together. I love you! 🌎

I read recently from a few different spiritual accounts on my Instagram that solar eclipses are not meant to be watched. Instead, we should treat them as the ultimate new moon: one where we retreat, rest, and stay inside as much as we possibly can. My first encounter with this information was inside a tent on the top of a mountain in Vermont, just after my partner and I trekked for three miles in over a foot of snow to meet our friend at his top secret totality viewing location.


Oops.


But this is not going to be a story of how I took the advice of an online stranger and stayed hidden away in that tent, under a sleeping bag as the spiritual gurus of old might have urged. In 2024, the solar eclipse feels like one of the few genuine and wholesome connectors we still have to offline strangers. Every video clip I saw after the event showcased hoards of people in fields, in lawn chairs, gazing at the sky together, completely undistracted. I witnessed shrieks of joy and tears spilling down the cheeks of grown men. Bonds formed out of thin air by people who knew they'd never see each other again after this, but didn't care. This wasn't even my first eclipse viewing, and yet I cried in awe of its power, too. I'd be damned if I'm not going to take full advantage of the opportunity.


So we witnessed totality, and unlike my first viewing in 2017, the skies were clear enough to give us a view of the sun's corona. I cheered with the 30+ fellow hikers on the fire tower and didn't take my eyes off the sun even for a moment. As fleeting as the event is, it's hard to pin down an exact moment where the experience feels most potent. I don't know what about it made me so emotional. But what I can remember, and what I ultimately took away from the experience, is how wholesomely bonded we humans became under that unfamiliar light. We laughed giddily and hugged without reservation. We even built a snowman and gave him a pair of glasses so he, too, could catch a glimpse.


Not only did the eclipse serve as a beautiful connector to other humans, it also seemed to reconnect my body and soul, bringing them back online. I was more active in this one short weekend than I had been for the past few months. It almost seemed to act as the official portal out of hibernation. And all of these signals working in tandem are propelling me, I believe, into the next season of life: one full of action, movement, and embodied presence.


A view of the total solar eclipse with pine trees in the lower frame

All of this anticipation had been building from a weekend unlike most for me, lately. My partner and I had been planning to travel up to Burlington for the totality viewing, of course, but also because a dear friend lives there and we were missing him quite fiercely. It was to be my first time visiting the small city, a place my partner expected I would really enjoy. So despite my school's spring break happening a week prior, I took two sick days to give us an extended vacation of sorts. We drove the ten hours in my partner's beat up Dodge Dakota (without heat, AC or a radio), and excitement ran high despite my attempts to fight off a horrendous headache. Something about this trip just felt promising. Teeming with potential for magic.


Our friend met us once we arrived with plans for camping, hiking, biking, and walking all over the city and Mount Belvidere, where we would eventually be watching totality. Though we declined the camping expedition for lack of quality winter gear, there was something in his gusto for saying "yes" to the great outdoors with every given opportunity that ignited the spark for our days to come.


We may not have joined in on the snowy camp plans, we biked for miles and hours across Burlington to every hike and walking trail we could squeeze in. Along Lake Champlain, we found forest schools among moss, abandoned wooden instruments for passersby to play, and flat rocks to skip along the water. It was here that the spark grew into something bigger.


It was on this path that I remembered my body in a way I hadn't for entirely too long. I suddenly recalled my strength and flexibility, my capacity to climb and play and stretch just for the fun of it, not for any purpose other than to enjoy the sensations of being alive. As we hobbled along the beach, we swung off of oddly-shaped branches and jumped from small cliffs into dusty rocks. We squeezed ourselves through small crevices on the trail and noticed different textures on the natural walls. And I remembered something deep and ancient within me about what it really means to be a human.


Then came the day of the eclipse. While our friend awaited us at the summit, my partner and I rented spikes and ski poles to aid in our trek. Only once before this had I hiked in snow, so I was immediately surprised to find that the heat of sunshine overpowered the frigid ground. Snow was giving way to slush and mud the first half-mile, which made for a slippery start, but this was now exciting rather than bothersome. As the snow got thicker, our spikes held stronger, and we made great time to the summit. Upon reaching the top, we found far more people than we expected to see for a trail so far out from the city, but it was rather welcomed. The vibes were incredible from the moment we met them, to the four minutes of totality, to when we said our final, forever goodbyes to these proper strangers.


And in between it all, we ate, we drank, we listened to new music, we sat in the corner of the bar and watched the locals do as they do. Certainly it doesn't sound special, but I assure it was. What made it so? I'm not exactly sure, other than my body and soul and nature were present as one.


It's hard to explain, but you would know it when you feel it. It's that sudden switch from saying no to a muddy hike for fear of wet socks, to saying "fuck it" and embracing the change into a fuzzy pair afterward. It's getting cozy under a blanket in the truck without A/C and laughing about it, rather than opting to pay for a nicer rental. It's doing the bike ride you're not quite comfortable with, going just a bit further up the hill than you think you can, rather than skipping out and meeting for a drink later. It's ignoring the stranger's advice and listening instead to what feels intuitively good for you.


So maybe it wasn't exactly the solar eclipse that broke me out of my cycle of burnout and stagnation. Maybe it was more simple. Maybe it was merely the act of saying yes.


One week later (and hopefully much longer), it has made all the difference.


A cliff face overlooking a lake on a cloudy day. Two men stand below it.

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