Eclipse is most commonly known as the obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it and the observer. However, eclipse can also mean the phase during which the markings of a male duck are obscured by the molting of the breeding plumage. On the other hand, eclipse can be a loss of prominence or power relative to something else. When we are deprived of our significance, we are eclipsed. We lack the eminence we may see in ourselves, and in turn, obscure ourselves for the same reason. Being eclipsed is something we inherently and naturally fear because it threatens many of the quintessential elements in our lives.
Eclipse emerged in the late thirteenth century from the Latin word eclipsis and from the Greek word ἔκλειψις (ekleipsi) meaning “an abandonment” and ἐκλείπω (ekleipein) meaning “to forsake a usual place, fail to appear,” from ek (“out”) and leipein (“to leave”). It is synonymous with the word relinquish, which is another word for “to give something up.”
Being eclipsed is to be stripped of what makes you powerful, or significant. Voluntarily or not, losing something of dire or sentimental value is an occurrence many of us face in our lifetime. Although what we find fundamentally essential is different for everyone, the experience of losing that thing, whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual, is something universally felt. It is like being stuck in time. It is the feeling you get when you can’t move with the world, because if you did, it would mean abandoning the thing you’ve lost that you’d never think of losing. It is feeling stuck, it is growing into yourself because you fail to see yourself in the world without it. Like the male duck that molts his old feathers, we have to cast aside what we’d never dream of casting aside, no matter how painful or frightening it may seem. To be eclipsed, in other words, will always be a part of those who feel. By associating our emotions with our actions, we induce attachments that can hold us back, move us forward or move us laterally.
Even in its astronomical context, eclipse holds something for us. When we are eclipsed, our light has been obscured. Something must have happened; something went wrong and got in the way. We have lost our source of light to carry us through our lifetime, or so it may seem.
It can be said that being eclipsed is to forcibly leave something behind, or to let something go. It is unwilling abandonment. It is something we all never wish to experience because we fear that we may lose identity and purpose, and even ourselves. Who is to say that we will remain the same? Who are we without it? When we fail to exercise our lives to their greatest potential, we rob ourselves of life’s opportunities by unconsciously imposing limits on ourselves. We are stripped of our composure and we lose ourselves to the one thing that makes us whole and human: feeling. In turn, we become the “people of the past” who deem themselves to be insufficient. This is when we become naked voids, forsaken vessels. This is when we are eclipsed.
OED Online. "eclipse, n.". Accessed November 6, 2012. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/59362?rskey=YYUuVg&result=1&isAdvanced=false.
Online Etymology Dictionary. “eclipse (n.)”. Accessed November 3, 2012. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=eclipse.
Online Etymology Dictionary. “eclipse (v.)”. Accessed November 3, 2012. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=eclipse.