A total solar eclipse occurring on my first day of classes back at the University of Oklahoma can be interpreted to mean many things, as the omens surrounding solar eclipses stretch back millennia and cover almost every culture, with each one trying its best to understand why it’s dark in the middle of the afternoon. Perhaps it means a dragon ate the sun, in which case I’d greatly appreciate it if said dragon would bring about whatever form of reptilian Armageddon is stirring up before August 25th, my bursar bill is due that day. Maybe it means the king is going to die within 100 days, though I’m betting not since Elvis died a loooong time ago.
There are so many options to choose from for you preferred eclipse omen, but I’m rejecting all of them. Instead, I’m choosing my own omen and following in the footsteps of many a scientist before me who used the solar eclipse of their generation as a source of inspiration for some of their greatest intellectual accomplishments. Even those who didn’t quite prove the theories set forth in the anticipation of the eclipse went on to do amazing things, possibly with thanks due to the sun taking a break for a few minutes. Astronomer Maria Mitchell, for example, led a group of other ballsy female astronomers out with their telescopes to view the 1878 eclipse, helping foster the love of STEM in women rarely given an opportunity to engage in the highly male dominated field while also providing a top-notch visual for generations to come.
I’m choosing to use Maria Mitchell as my omen for this particular eclipse. I’m interpreting this solar phenomenon as a sign that this school year will be nothing like the previous term I had at OU. With my mental and physical health in check—and my atrophied brain longing for the classes I’ve just been waiting to take—I’m starting this new academic year without pause. I intend to leave my first year of college in the shadows and move forward, knowing the outcome of mistakes previously made and the alternative option to put in place instead. And much like the solar eclipse, I wouldn’t recommend staring directly at my future without the proper protective protocols in place, because it is going to be bright.