What makes London one of the greatest cities in the world for me is their support of the Arts and encouragement of learning. Nearly all museums and galleries in the capital offer free admission. During a previous trip I visited the massive British Museum, who's most famous object is perhaps the Rosetta Stone. It was amazing to see this 2200-year-old artifact up close and imagine myself in another era, in another world.
On this holiday, I spent full days at the Natural History Museum, which housed amazing specimens of dinosaurs (including a few animatronic ones), as well as a cool earthquake simulator fashioned to look like a Japanese grocery store while replicating the 1995 Kobe disaster; the National Portrait Gallery, which showcased Britain's most famous citizens from King Charles II and his many (many!) mistresses to modern pop icons like Paul McCartney and Amy Winehouse; and, my FAVOURITE, the Victoria and Albert Museum which bills itself as "the world's leading museum of art and design". Indeed, it is. I was overwhelmed within 30 minutes of entering. I could have spent my entire trip exploring and learning from it's 7km of galleries housing everything to do with my chosen career path. Needless to say, I left reinvigorated and inspired wanting to create my own masterpieces that may one day be deemed worthy of archiving and preserving. I want to leave an imprint with my life.
I am not religious but I love to visit old, historic European churches. The grandeur of the architecture is truly awe-inspiring and spiritual, and heck, on some level it is a miracle that I don't burst into flames upon entering them.
On this trip, I visited St. Paul's Cathedral and experienced a moment of serendipity that marked, yet again, a moment where I feel my father's presence was with me. I haven't even written about all of these experiences but maybe I will one day. I feel they've gone beyond coincidental and have strengthened my belief in the existence of an afterlife.
As always now, when entering any religious shrine, I say a prayer and light a votive for my beloved father. It may mean nothing, but I've always felt positive energy is exponential. I want what's in my heart, including all memories of loved ones present and lost, to be housed in good karma. To me, that means everything. After doing this in St. Paul's, I started to feel very, very sad to the point of fighting a losing battle at controlling my tears. London was my father's favourite city in the world and I just wished he could be there physically with me in that moment. I became too distracted to listen to the audio tour I was given and just roamed aimlessly for a bit in an attempt to clear my head. I eventually found myself at the North Quire Aisle. From the corner of my eye, I noticed my name. Clague.
I did a double-take. I was staring at a large memorial to choirists of St. Paul's Cathedral who had perished during World War II. One of the dozen or so names on the memorial was an "R.A.K. Clague".
I was shocked.
And then elated. Here was a Clague (related or not) who had left an imprint with his life. Here was a Clague memorialized in one of the most historic, iconic buildings in the world.
I have no interest in war and believe that I wouldn't have even noticed this had my father's spirit not guided me to the back of the church to view it. My mood changed on a dime. I could not stop smiling afterwards. I have contacted the church to find out more information about them.
On the walk back to my hotel, a street musician played "Once Upon a Dream". Life is indeed like this at times.