Right now I am sitting in my favorite spot at the The Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, CA—the Zen Meditation Garden. Since the Japanese Garden is currently under construction, this place truly is peaceful without all the tourists passing through and it puts you into a complete state of Zen (hence the name). I like to come up here to write and to meditate.
Surprisingly, for a Holiday weekend, there are not that many people here at the Huntington today. There is a cactus sale going on in the parking lot. I saw more people there then I did inside the Gardens. But I prefer it that way. I like walking through the gardens, enjoying the peace and quiet that I rarely get on a day-to-day basis. I haven’t even pulled out my Ipod. I am enjoying listening to the sounds of nature. Only on crowded days do I pull out the ipod and listen to my “meditation” playlist.
Tonight is also the first night of the Members Evenings. They keep the gardens open until 8pm for members and provide music and food. I’m not sure if I will stay that long. It tends to feel a bit awkward attending such events, swarmed with families and couples, when you are single. I don’t want to spend my evening hating my singleton status and wishing a certain someone was there with me to enjoy the ambiance. So I think I will just leave at 4:30pm with the general masses.
I do have to admit, the Huntington is a great place to go on a date. But take it from me, if you are on a date with someone who wants to have in-depth conversations and get to know you better, spend your time in the gardens and save the museums for another trip. The museums here are amazing but it’s not an atmosphere conducive for expansive conversations. So I would recommend spending a first date walking through the gardens, perhaps finding a quiet spot on a bench to chat, otherwise that first date could wind up being your last. A lesson I learned the hard way.
Right now it is amazing to me how calm everything is. The sun is shining down on me—a little too hot for my personal preference but it feels good. (Thank God I put on lots of sunscreen). I can hear the birds chirping and the water trying to come out of the sprinklers. In the distance, you can hear voices of the patrons wanting to see what is up here but most are disappointed by the “rock garden.” The Bonsai Tree area is much more appealing to the masses who don’t understand the theory behind a Zen Meditation Garden.
Personally, for me, I love that the Zen Meditation garden is a “rock garden.” When I was a kid, I tried to grow a rock garden. My Mom let me pick out a “baby” rock at the rock quarry. I found the perfect place for it next to our rose bushes. I would water it every day and watch as it got bigger and bigger. Little did I know that my mother was secretly replacing the rock with a bigger one until she couldn’t find any rocks bigger than the one I had. That is when she told me it was now an adult rock so it wouldn’t get any bigger.
Now that I am older, I still have a love for rocks and stones but in a different capacity. I look at them as being a part of the earth and carrying a certain energy. Some even have the ability to absorb your negative energy and send you positive ones in return. Yes, I believe in crystal therapy and worry stones. Some of my friends think I’m a bit off my rocker but I don’t care. I am who I am.
OK, I had to get up and leave my lovely Zen Meditation garden. It was getting too hot and too many tourists started filtering into the area. When I saw a grown man fall off of a bench when he tried to jump it, I knew it was time to move on. My peaceful Zen-like state was broken by one man’s stupidity.
It’s funny how you can tell the tourists at the Huntington from the members. The tourists are taking pictures of all the signs and posing in front of the most random things. The members, like myself, are sitting on the benches in the shade, reading books, writing, drawing, painting, or just taking leisurely walk—without the need for a map.
Right now, I am watching a tourist sit next to a planter in the Chinese Garden while his girlfriend takes his picture. They are posing next to every tree in the garden. I can’t help but giggle as he strikes a thinker pose on the bridge. Ahh, tourists.
This is yet another reason why I love coming here—people watching. It is funny to watch the tourist families, forcing their children to pose for a picture every few feet. It is clear they (the kids) would rather be somewhere else like Disneyland.
Then, of course, you have the couples here on a date, documenting every moment with their cameras instead of actually have a real conversation with their companion. There are the couples, most likely members, who are holding hands, walking and talking. But those couples are usually overshadowed by my favorite type of couple to see here–teenagers here on a date. You paid $40 for an entrance fee for what could be a very romantic date but things go array because the girls are attempting to walk around in stiletto heels while talking on their cell phones with their girlfriends, describing the gardens and ignoring their date who is still holding onto their hand, pretending not to be offended. It’s very entertaining.
Well, they just made the announcement that the Gardens will be closing in 15 minutes (and reopening for members only in 1 hour). I guess it is time for me to bid my sanctuary adieu. “Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”