During the first year of this blog’s existence, I wrote about my visit to Stonehenge, on England’s Salisbury Plain:
I walked among the old stones, laying my hands on this one and then that one, watching the sunlight and shade change the colors of the stones from light orange to dull gray, taking photographs . . . and absorbing what I can only call the silence of thousands of years. I felt gratified that I had kept a promise made to myself when I was very young. But even more than that, I felt something that was, all at the same time, odd, eerie, compelling and familiar. I felt as if I knew the place . . .
How had I been there before? Possible explanations I’ve considered (however unlikely they may be) are time travel, alternate universes, sheer folly and reincarnation. I lean toward the latter, but I do not know. All I know is that as I wandered the pathways among the ancient stones, stones put in place about five thousand years ago and abandoned sometime later, I felt as if I were returning. It’s not that I belonged there in that year of 1974, but as if I had belonged there somewhen else.
There is, of course, a barrier that separates the life we understand at least a little from things we do not understand very well (if at all). I do believe that there are places in the world where that barrier is very thin. Among the places I’ve heard mentioned where that is true are Sedona, Arizona, and Mount Shasta, California, here in the U.S.; Machu Picchu in Peru and the Pyramids in Egypt. There are likely more that I’m forgetting. I am certain, though, that Stonehenge is one of those places.
That visit took place – and I took the photograph above – forty years ago today. As I wrote a few weeks ago “some dates stick hard in my mind.” Today’s date, March 8, is one of those. And although no song can truly reflect how I felt in that hour or so I spent among those ancient stones that day, I’ve come to realize over the years that there is a path – at times indirect and winding but nevertheless clear – from what I felt at Stonehenge in 1974 to some of my firm beliefs today about why we are here and where we go next.
The one recording I know of that speaks plainly to those beliefs is as matter-of-fact as the stones on Salisbury Plain are, literally, monumental. That’s all right, though: Stonehenge was a once in a lifetime experience, and the vast majority of our time here is more matter-of-fact than monumental. So on this anniversary date, Don McLean’s 1971 album track “Crossroads” speaks to me as it has for years, and I know it needs to be today’s Saturday Single.