Finally, I understood what is so unusual about Californian scenery! Last time when we went to the Sacred Heart Warehouse, I did not quite get it. But now I know – I am amazed at the yellow grass! The trees stay green under the hot sun. There are even fir trees around. But all the hills are covered in yellow lifeless grass. It lies on earth powerlessly, burnt and dried. From mountainous horizon to the edges of the road stretches the plain covered by yellow grass. Very beautiful.
We did not ride on the bus to see yellow grass, though. Our destination today was Winchester Mystery House. William Wirt Winchester was an owner of a company that produced Winchester rifles, so he was rich, and when passed away in 1881, gave all his fortune to his wife, Sara Winchester. Sara was later told by a medium that her family was cursed. The spirits of people killed by the Winchester rifle were haunting her. To appease them, Sara had started building a house.
A house turned out to be a strange and scary place. As soon as our group stepped inside, the guide opened the door to her right and showed that there was nothing behind but a brick wall. Then our attention was attracted to a staircase leading into the ceiling. As we were told, this was a way, Winchester’s widow was trying to confuse spirits. Narrow corridors, stairs with small sized risers, a window in a floor – all those odd architectural solutions were unexpected and impressive and served the same purpose. Sara even slept in different bedrooms every day!
Following the guide from one dark unfinished room to another and hearing how boards creak as we pass, we got to know that Sara had to always keep the work in process. Every day there had to be a sound of hammers. So, the old widow was imagining new and new changes. The house we were traveling in was all a product of her vivid never-ending imagination.
I was looking at this through the prism of the following question: was the life of this widow meaningful? She lived normally, with a husband, but at the end devoted herself completely to the process that did not have any purpose and was not supposed to have a purpose. She spent huge amounts of money on the never-to-be finished house. The decoration of only one room there was equal in cost to three houses!
Of course, for her, it was full of meaning. She had to keep spirits away. But for me, this is a meaningless way to spend one’s life. Meaning should be understood as missions that a person carries throughout his life. Missions directed to the achievement of valuable external goals. I do not say that there should be one goal. This process is subject to change as our personality is. But I cannot see meaning in building a house. It is not valuable.
These thoughts were accompanied later by walking in a small well-cared garden and looking on tall palms. The fragrance of flowers was especially pleasant, but the feeling left – sadness and meaningless.