My Journey to the Center of the Universe
It was a quiet Sunday morning when I made the short trip to the Center of the Universe, which happens to be located in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.
It's a rather unassuming place, a small circle of brick occupy the center of a pedestrian bridge between Archer and 1st Street. As the legend goes, if you stand in the circle and speak you will hear the echo fill your ears, but only you will hear it.
My first thought as I entered the circle was wondering just how such an odd anomaly went totally unnoticed by me for so many years. A little research before my journey began revealed a variety of pilgrims who had gone before me carrying video cameras to record their experiences. This video is typical of most of the responses...
I noticed that no one asked the most obvious question;
Why was this place called the Center of the Universe?
It such a grand, epic name for a rather interesting, but hardly grandiose place. Yet it is so perfect as it touches upon our ability to experience a bit of wonder and mystery in our all too often “real” world.
Upon entering the circle, I waited patiently for another citizen of Tulsa to pass by before bellowing my name to the heavens. I suppose personal embarrassment was a price I was not willing to pay to stand in such a hallowed place. As soon as the coast was clear, I spoke my name in a clear voice only to hear it instantly reverberate. As if I had spoken into an elongated megaphone that split into two speakers that were pulled into each of my eardrums. It was a strange, bizarre experience to say the least given that I was standing in the open, not in some tightly confined room which is what the reverberations bring to mind.
The “scientific” explanation for this sonic anomaly is a rather simple one. The concrete planters which surround the circle were built to reflect the sound waves emanating from the center back to the person who speaks. The construction is so perfect that only the sender standing in the very center can hear the echo. This was clearly created on purpose yet there is no sign, no official designation, no direction pointing to its location. A tip of the hat to the city planners for leaving such a detail to the general public. Such things are becoming too few and far between in our land.
But at that moment when my ears filled with the distorted sound of my echo, I chose a less rational and more wistful belief. That some things in this life are a little too good to be coldly explained away. I took the time to make my New Year's resolution, which is something I did without speaking. After all, I figure that such a place might understand that some things need not be spoken, even at the Center of the Universe.