Lost in Space
We headed out last night into the freedom of an evening without children. From the frazzled normality of busy Saturday afternoon parents we were transformed into a carefree couple thanks to the magic only a trusted babysitter can bring. As we drove in the slow moving twilight traffic towards the restaurant my husband had chosen I remembered just how essential regular evenings such as this one are. It’s almost easy to forget that the two of you exist outside of your identity as parents without them.
It was a very Los Angeles evening as it turned out. Away from the west side which is our usual haunt we ate barbecue at a small restaurant in Korea Town and watched the lanterns glowing as the night breezes blew warm on the patio. Then we drove again, this time up to the Griffith Observatory which is situated just above Los Feliz on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. Like everyone who lives here I’d heard of the place but we’d never taken the time to pay it a visit. Turns out it was built in 1935 and Griffith J. Griffith, who donated the land in the late nineteenth century and stipulated the building of the observatory which stands upon it in his will, wanted to make astronomy accessible to the public. He sounds like quite a high minded and generous fellow although not without scandal in his story if you look into it. Apparently he believed that gazing into space and the vastness of the universe would enable people to handle their worldly affairs with more perspective.
The views of Los Angeles which stretch out to the horizon in every direction are stunning without a doubt. As we meandered around the viewing deck and leant out into the night I caught a whisper of the hope and promise that I used to feel whenever we came to stay here as visitors. Something about the warmth of the night air, the panoply of lights and the steady stream of tourists brought forth the memory of how it is to holiday here. It’s a truly wonderful feeling.
Owing to the gentle persuasion of my husband we ventured inside to look at the exhibits; my usual impatience would rather have dictated that we depart having gazed upon the wonderful vistas outside. I sat upon a bench in silent protest as he studied an exhibit on Foucalt’s Pendulum- a phenomenon which has always interested him. Then I happened to glance up at a series of photographs and all of a sudden two in particular caught my eye; the Earth rising from above the barren horizon of the Moon and the first man ever to have taken a space walk. As I gazed at these images I began to see what Griffith J. Griffith might have meant. The sheer awesomeness of the experience of the space walker; to have stood amidst such beautiful endless emptiness and have seen our planet in the distance gave me pause and I sat silently lost in thought.
We walked back to the car later discussing some points of Buddhist thought that I’ve been studying recently. I was suddenly very glad that we’d taken the time to explore and consider the cosmic vastness of the open space with which we are surrounded on all sides.