“Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you, smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, ‘Come and find out’.”
~ Joseph Conrad
The perspiration burning my eyes and rolling in tiny rivulets down my back seems to bother me little. And the view in front of me justifies the 19 hour flight which began my journey to this small, remote beach facing westward from an island into endless seas beneath a glorious sunset. I’ve yet to find the ends of this earth, or so I presume. But I hope and trust what I discover there instills in me the tranquility and peace I’m feeling as I perch in the sand, observing the endless changes in color as the sun steadily slips behind the horizon.
“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” ~ Bob Marley
It’s unfortunate – I think – that we are often the masters of our own deception, subconsciously yet nevertheless willingly crafting our own undoing. And I suppose it’s understandable, after having experienced a series of uncomfortable events in unfamiliar territory, that I would retreat back into my survival instinct, immediately canvassing my options for opportunities to escape. Having few options available, I dug in and raised the walls, deciding that I’ll wait it out by keeping my area of reconnaissance to a minimum. And just like that, I nearly forfeited one of the best nights we would experience during the entire journey to this little island in the Caribbean.
“It was a weird, beautiful little dream of a country caught between its regional ways and the giant monoculture that was beginning to swallow it whole.”
~ Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club
Not so long ago, I was shuffling around the yard taking care of tasks I’d been wanting to get behind me. Suffering from what I self-diagnose as infrequent-but-spontaneous obsessive compulsive disorder, I was on a mission to conquer several over-due projects that had mysteriously remained unfinished. Returning to the garage, I attempted to balance my tool belt atop a shifting collection of discarded parts and gear laying scattered across my toolbox. But it wasn’t so much the balancing act that presented my challenge, it was the steady distraction of thoughts, images and experiences from an earlier weekend stuck in a pattern of continuous replay. It was a reminder that if we are willing to pay attention, life often affords us an opportunity to experience something we at first may not understand, and that only time and innate curiosity will sustain through to the point of understanding.
This past Fall we spent an afternoon walking between Venice and Santa Monica Beach. If you’ve never been I recommend it. My sweetheart was taking care of business in Southern California and I was doing research on the 60’s rock band The Doors, who, coincidentally, can trace their beginnings to this exact area. The atmosphere is certainly conducive to creativity.
I was reminded of this admittedly ominous perspective while standing beside one of many dining tables within a large hall of the ‘D’ Street Homeless Shelter in Merced, California. Nearby, one of the volunteers looked across the room at those who opted to take shelter that evening. His comments suggested a slight annoyance at what he observed, and an attempt to reconcile what he considered contradictory behaviors. His running commentary reflected his thoughts, drifting between the activities of the shelter and an obvious deep-seated political philosophy. And as I’ve discovered over the course of these past several years, there is an ever-increasing movement in contemporary America to somehow link every situation and circumstance to a political philosophy. Typically used as a weapon for disparaging a political opponent or party, I fear the movement has left in its wake an obscuring of fact, evidence and reality. Consequently, we are slowly being paralyzed by an inability to be objective in our critical thinking.
“The goal of this forum is to bring together health and mental health providers and administrators, policy makers, African American women and youth, church leaders, and other interested individuals to begin a meaningful conversation about current health concerns impacting the community and to develop strategies to improve the health status of African Americans in Merced County.”
– An Invitation – First African American Women’s Health Forum
“In that year, in our youth, we had an intense visitation of energy” ~Jim Morrison
Isuppose every journey begins or ends with the realization of having experienced the unexpected. And for anyone seeking adventure, enlightenment or education, this must be seen as a positive element of discovery. For some, including myself, it’s often the entire point.
LivinginCalifornia provides a unique observational platform to the ever-evolving dynamics of contrasts. Being a native of the state – and residing in a decidedly non-progressive region – I will confirm there is equal measure of fascination and frustration with various segments of the citizenry. The common determinate – as always – being one’s disposition, inclinations and affiliations. Or, perhaps, it’s simply one’s level of curiosity.
Looking far across the bay, beyond the reach of my equipment and what any similarly equipped, self-respecting photographer would attempt to capture, I was doing my best to find a focus point on the Point Bonita Lighthouse. A cute old man walked in front of me a second time, his attention fixed on a small radio clutched in the palm of his right hand. An audio cord and ear buds hung loosely beneath his ears, the sound reminding me of transistor radios from long ago. The old man wasn’t making particularly great time, but was steady and smooth, with the discipline I suppose any athlete could appreciate. As he passed I was close enough to barely make out the tinny audio of a 49er game. The 9ers’ were at home, and down a few points.
A few nights ago I was with friends watching the World Series, enjoying a particularly smooth cigar. I’m not an aficionado by any measure, but the occasional stick now and then suits me just fine. Like so many of my other pastimes, this came to me by suggestion and curiosity. It’s a very relaxing endeavor and, unlike drinking a smooth brown ale, which I also partake in every now and again, puffing on a rich aromatic cigar doesn’t require that I get a ride home afterwards, or sleep on a strange sofa.