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The Carroll News

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Keeping up with Kincaid: what are humans being humans?

Laken Kincaid
Editor-in-Chief, Laken Kincaid, reflects on their thoughts from the past week.

During the solar eclipse on April 8, the world stopped. From my tiny, obviously skewed bubble, it seemed everything was at peace. Classmates exchanged eclipse chips like they were commerce and traded words with any passerby they locked eyes with. Someone who was in your orientation group suddenly became your best friend as you both relished the moment together despite spending years apart. Faculty and families intermingled as if they weren’t distinguished from one another by status or by name. Class distinctions, past conflicts, all of the nasty bits of life seemed to fade for the four minutes of midday darkness.

Not a single soul, no matter who they were, could separate themselves from the masses as we all were subject to a huge cosmic event; one that was out of the hands of even the most powerful of giants. Compared to the planets and stars that were also witnessing the same momentous occasion, we were but ants guffawing at the passage of time and a fluctuation of light. Where other gatherings call for recognition or for people to somehow differentiate themselves from their neighbors, there was no way a person could make themselves more powerful than the sun.

Surprisingly, it seemed that notion was universally accepted. Everyone with their nerdy and heavily tinted glasses all agreed to look silly and put a pin in their daily activities to feel the world shift, like some unspoken accord. Buildings were empty, lights in the dorms were dimmed and to-do lists all had a buffer zone.

No one was angry, all of life’s worries were dimmed as the ground got cooler despite hundreds of people all muddling together on the Hamlin Quad like a pack of curious sardines. Instead of being swept along with all of the trials and tribulations we usually face, every single person paused their lives and stared at the sky.

This doesn’t happen often. At all times it feels like our bodies are on hyperdrive and if they aren’t then we consider if we are burnt out or needing a quick snack to continue on the grind. I am sure there are a few folks in Northeast Ohio who did not change their schedule, but they had to be well aware that they were in the minority, missing a “once-in-a-lifetime” event for the sake of routine.

I wasn’t the only person who recognized this phenomenon. A few hours after the eclipse ran its course, a new genre of TikToks were scattered across my “For You” page. It was a subsection of the “hopecore” videos that I am occasionally graced with, most of them focus on a veteran seeing his children for the first time in months or an old man hugging his wife on a park bench.

My favorite types of this content particularly have to do with animals such as full-grown lions lovingly embracing the humans that rescued them when they were mere cubs or a group of people applauding a police dog who gets to retire after a long and successful career. While your typical media experience can be soured by doom and gloom, this trend focuses on highlighting the little things in life; it shows that there is still some happiness even when everything appears to be dreary.

When it came to documenting the minutes between 3:15 and 3:20 pm on April 8, the general sentiment was that it was pretty freaking cool that everyone was enjoying the same thing at the same time. Usually, these posts came with the caption “humans being humans” and a mellow, acoustic guitar track underneath, bolstering the allure of the simplicity.

One time, during a solar eclipse, a full-fledged war that was waging on for six full years came to halt in Ancient Greece because they feared repercussions from the gods for their actions. Albeit our scientific knowledge of celestial happenings has greatly progressed and I am not naive enough to think every conflict in the world suddenly fizzled out, but I can still be happy for what I witnessed in my little pocket of reality.

While usually our eyes are distorted by the lenses of our own experiences and biases, for one of the first times I have seen, no one cared who they were or who they were surrounded by. We could not interpret circumstances differently based on how liberal or conservative we were or place hate on a specific instance in our lives. Instead, we stopped and felt the earth beneath us. The same heavenly body that gave us this all-encompassing notion of serendipity also shined on the first homo sapiens to walk across the globe, and like they are now, we will soon be resigned to dust and distant memories.

This reminds me of a poem from the great libraries of Tumblr that reads: “I hope I am not punished for the crime of being small.” All who were on the Hamlin Quad did not fear the sentiments described in this verse. Instead of trying to make our presence as big as possible, we were fine with being nothing more than observers in our own stories, even if it was just for a second. Everyone realized that they were just a spark in the roaring fire of history and, for once, were okay with it.

We accepted that the spinning of the world is far stronger than any dent we could make to its surface and didn’t exert effort to change it. Empires will always fall at the knees of a ticking clock.

When the sun peeked out again after all of the celebrations, it was only a few minutes until everyone returned to normalcy. However, I will cherish those moments when I was no different than a child holding their mother’s hand or a doctor presenting their dissertation at the celebration of scholarship in the Dolan Science Center; we all were just people with our heads turned upwards and our beings intertwined. We were humans being humans, a beautiful existence enjoying a beautiful event.

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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