[May 5, 2012]
While most of you were raising a toast to Mexican Independence or to the racing of horses in Kentucky, I was persuading a British colleague to drive me to see some old rocks.
|[I took this photo!!]|
Stonehenge has been on my list ever since I first heard about in some history class in grade school. Also since it turned up in fairytales I stumbled across. I love the idea of it – huge old rocks placed in a very strategic formation – no one knows why or how...
How NEAT. My friend Kate made fun of me every step of the way – from the planning until the day of – teasing me, wanting to know why I’d want to go see some old rocks that you can’t even walk up close to anymore because they’ve fenced them off. I simply smiled and told her I had to. But for all her teasing, she’s the one who offered to take me there – and she never once attempted to rescind her offer – even after a super long work week, when I’m sure driving two hours each way was less appealing than, say, a day of relaxing. Stonehenge, to me, is one of the biggest wonders of the world – and I think she could see how important it was to me to see it, even if she couldn’t understand.
The day of, her roommate joined us – and even brought snacks for the road trip. I was excited from the minute we got into the car – until the 2 hours later when we arrived. The girls – bless their hearts – paid entrance fee with me, and accompanied me amongst the whole visit – even though it was windy, overcast, and cold cold cold. We decided to grab the stupid audio guides because they were free, (I say stupid because too many facts make me bored – plus if you have some random voice talking in your ear, it’s hard to hear your own voices in your head). I ended up being glad I did. The architecture facts were boring to me – but the lore of the place was fascinating. The audio guide brought up the fact that people don’t know if the place was built for science (time-keeping by the sun, etc) or religion… and it raised the point that years and years ago – science and religion may not have been the separate entities they are today. What an interesting point. They mentioned that back then, the weather very much ruled the people – the seasons, the hours of sunlight, etc. – it would have made sense to worship the sun and the changing of the seasons.
It is funny to me how we, as a people in modern times, have distanced ourselves so far from weather. We heat, we air condition anything possible, we happily allow there to be barriers between our grocery stores and the places they obtain their fruit and vegetables from… In fact, the only times now that we are affected by the weather are the times when it’s at its most extreme – blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms, droughts. There’ve been many more of these extreme weather patterns in the last few years… makes you wonder: is the earth mad at us? I mean, of course it is – with the way we pollute and abuse natural resources – but I wonder if even it’s just trying to get our attention, our respect. I’ve often thought in the last couple years – how different is it now, than it was during the plagues? Which is not to start some crazy, weather-related/religion-related conspiracy theory… but it does make a person think. Why did our ancestors worship the weather, worship nature – and why do we flagrantly disrespect and disown our relationship with it as often as we can? And what are the repercussions of that?
I recently watched the move Melancholia. It’s partially about a woman who is not mentally well, but it’s also about a planet that is dangerously close to crashing into the earth and destroying life as we know it. The movie brought so many questions to mind for me – how would I react if I learned life on earth was about to be over – how would we as a people react? How far away are we from destroying this planet that we’ve inhabited for so long – and disrespected for so long? Would we all of the sudden maybe build some altars to the sun, like Stonehenge? And again – no one really even knows why it was built, so maybe that’s not what it is at all – but, the sun perfectly aligns over the stones at the Summer Solstice each year, and then rotates around the rest of year… and I sincerely doubt something like that happens by accident.
I think my favorite part of Stonehenge, though, is not the questions it brings up – it’s the lack of answers we have for the questions. I LOVE that in this modern age – with science and explanations everywhere, that a few things still exist that purely represent wonder. We, as a people, should be awestruck more often, should have more things to wonder about. The magic of life is around us – it’s not just for wizards of Arthurian times, or witches from early American times. It’s not just for the religious lore and hard-to-believe miraculous stories that are found at the depths and origins of our modern day religions – it’s for us, too, for all of us living in 2012. It’s for future generations of us – even when we have our hovercrafts and our time portal machines… there are still some phenomenons on this planet that we are not meant to understand, but just appreciate the magic of. I saw it at Stonehenge. I saw it as my day-trip companions unabashedly got their cameras out and started snapping away. I saw it as they intently listened to their audio guides. I saw it as we talked about the visit afterwards. I saw it in all the other visitors of Stonehenge – as they wandered around, as they visited the gift shop even. And I felt it in myself. Maybe it was the ominous skies above us that day, maybe it was because I’d already let Stonehenge into my heart before I even arrived – but maybe, maybe it’s because “those rocks” are such an impressive and inexplicable phenomenon, that they take the air out of anyone in their presence.
I’m told that once a year, on the summer solstice, they let people in to wander around the rocks. In some ways, it was a bit of a disappointment that my trip-timing was only a month and a half off… and in some ways, I want to set a goal to come back for that at one point – but I’ve also heard it’s filled with crazy, pagan worshippers during that time :) – and maybe that would be more overwhelming than it would be something I could appreciate. Not sure :)
And I guess I don’t have to know how I feel about it, do I? So much of life, for me, is about finding answers. It was refreshing to be so content with not finding an answer here – save the answer that, yes, Stonehenge was absolutely somewhere I needed to go.