A week or two ago I was really fortunate to have my nephew visit me. He is a young man now, 20 years old; I really don’t know where the time has gone to? I’m avoiding thinking about it too much!
Anyway, as is always the case when family come to visit, the big questions needed to be asked – what breakfast cereal should I stock up on? Do they drink orange juice? Will one packet of chocolate biscuits be enough for a three day visit or should I get two to be on the safe side? Yes, it seems I am a feeder.
One of the biggest questions though is always, what do you want to do when you get here? To which they invariable reply with the most frustrating reply that any visitor can give: ‘I don’t know, whatever.’
Those words fill me with dread and frustration, because they send me into a spin of total, unadulterated anxiety. What do they like, do they mind walking, would they prefer to be indoors or outdoors, what are they interested in, what have they seen on previous visits? How I wish they would just tell me what they wanted to do! Honestly, I don’t need any more reasons to worry about stuff, I can come up with a hundred of my own, thank you very much!
The day my nephew arrived, I had to come into work last minute for some sick cover, so I had to send him a hasty text as he was waiting to depart to say that – rather than picking him up as agreed – he would have to jump in a cab and meet me at QVC. He is a really laid back young man and took it all in his stride, ‘yeah, ok’ was his reply.
Poor guy had to sit in the studios until 1am when I was finished. So much for our original plan to have dinner and drink lots of wine and catch up. I did make it up to him by staying up until 5am with him when we got home though.
Next day, the inevitable question had to be asked once again – what do you want to do while you are here? ‘Dunno’ came the reply. Argh…
Eventually, a trip to some museums was arranged and he decided that he wanted to see the Tower of London, Crown Jewels, Science Museum and Natural History Museum. So off we went.
We didn’t know where to start so, after seeking some advice from the very helpful staff, we found ourselves walking among space rockets and satellites suspended from the ceilings. I was genuinely awe struck. Our whole lives, our whole existence is dictated by science and nowhere is that more obvious than at the the Science Museum.
Standing beneath huge rockets that have been sent out to space, you start to really understand how small we are, but also how great we are.
The Science Museum isn’t just about space rockets, it takes you on a journey right through all kinds of science. You can look at human ingenuity, from bicycles to Wells Fargo wagon, and racing cars to Tim Peake’s return shuttle when he travelled back to Earth from space. It is all there and it is truly fascinating.
There is also an incredible exhibition on who we are and what makes us humans, definitely worth looking at. We even went to see a 3D IMAX presentation of a film made in space, recorded by the astronauts in the International Space Station, giving us their view of our planet from up there (and all in 3D). It was, in the truest sense of the word, awesome.
Right next door was the Natural History Museum, which took us away from the exciting world of human ingenuity and invention to human existence and evolution. At times, I felt like I was on an accelerated journey from outer space back to the land that time forgot in an Orson Wells Time Machine.
One minute I was looking at space rockets, the next I was face to face with the (now extinct) dodo and its predecessor dinosaurs. My nephew loved it. He is crazy about science, aviation and space stuff, which I hadn’t known, though he had contemplated being an aeronautical engineer at one point, so I guess the clues were there!
As a day out, I would say it was a successful one. I got to learn new things about my nephew, I guess about us as humans, and about me as a person.
You see, whether I was wandering around, interacting with the exhibits explaining how the human skeletal system functioned, or taking a peek inside the Tim Peake space capsule, I began to realise that, as humans, we are both incredibly simple and yet incredibly complex at the same time and we live in a vast universe that is far beyond our imagining.
Too vast for us to travel into and, frankly, too much for us to worry about.
There is so much above, below, and around us that is out of our control. In some ways we just need to surrender to that, accept that we can only really influence ourselves, and leave the rest of the universe to look after itself.
Maybe I could be more like my nephew with his, ‘whatever’ attitude and leave space and the universe to worry about the rest?
Until next time,