The Rolling Stones Lesson for the Solar Eclipse


Did you view the solar eclipse? What was your experience?




“No, you can’t always get what you want,

You can’t always get what you want,

You can’t always get what you want,

But if you try sometime

You just might find

You get what you need.”

If you take to heart those lyrics from the Rolling Stones, everyone who watched the solar eclipse yesterday might have got something they need.

We were touch and go in the totality zone in Texas. It was very cloudy, with the kind of clouds that block the sun. However, once the eclipse started, we could see the partial eclipse of the sun by the moon on and off as it developed. Then, with glasses off and the naked eye able to watch as the 4-minute totality began, we saw the clouds open and close some, and there was the corona around a vacated grey center. This happened at least 3 times, as if to remind us of its importance, like Rolling Stones lyrics.

It got darker and darker. Birds flew in circles. Frogs croaked, but the mules were silent, as a friend told us about her ranch. Then it was back to normal, but I imagine that we felt changed for the better. Probably no matter what was seen or not seen, one could receive something that was needed. The space lectures, nature tours, and overall seamless and so supportive management provided by Smithsonian couldn’t be better! Our particular small group was taught by a young rising star woman from Yale. The attendees were cooperative, gracious, and knowledgeable. Any divisiveness seemed to dissipate.

If the full totality was seen clearly in its entirety elsewhere in the United States, reports of feeling humbled and awestruck were common. On the other extreme, watching clouds block any sighting of the sun could have included other needs bring fulfilled, such as learning about the eclipses and deciding to try again another time.

Those who watched partial eclipses outside of totality could have been awarded too. Anything that makes one appreciative of the sun and earth, especially in this time of climate instability, cannot help but feel some sense of cosmic connection, perhaps as good or better than any psychedelic trip.

The Rolling Stones lesson, intentional or not, can be applied to psychiatric practice, too. Both patients and clinicians would love a whole career in clear totality, but that would be an impossible dream. Just improvement could fulfill many needs, too. Sometimes we learn more from undesired failure.

During most of our event, there was a solo guitar player. He closed with a song by the Beatles, The Rolling Stones major competitor. It was a “A Day in the Life” and this was quite a day of dramatic changes, just like the song and sometimes life.

That evening, the precarious desk lamp fell in our hotel room fell and its glass covering of the bulb broke, but in so doing revealed the bright sun of the lightbulb, as we mimic nature. Then, the next morning, the rains came, as if there were cosmic tears that the total solar eclipse was over, but is available to recall in our memories.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

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