Beach Day Valentine

Beach Day Valentine

During the summer I try to go to the beach every weekend. It’s about a thirty minute drive. It seems wrong not to go that often. The ocean is the best thing going in Los Angeles. Hands down, the very best thing. And the weather. The two together are peanut butter and jelly. 

When I first moved here, 19 years ago, I was bemoaning the lack of big, leafy trees, the lack of deciduous forest. Do you know what that is? It’s what they have on the East Coast and in Europe. It’s the type of tree that sheds it’s leaves every season and gives you autumn. It doesn’t happen without a lot of rain. California is more desert -y than deciduous. We don’t have to shovel snow and wear mittens, but we also don’t get much tree canopy. The sun is always present. For a while I was longing for shade and forest. Oh woah is me, how can I be happy? Where can I go for long walks and reflection? The location nearest me with the highest portion of wet nature was the beach. So, as the song says, if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. Well guess what, I married the one I was with and I’ve never been happier.

Some of this is due to discovering the boogie board. The alliteration makes it sound goofy and there are no other phrases for it, but boogie boarding is the most spiritually enjoyable thing in the whole world. To Boogie Board is to become one with the ocean. It is to dial in all your senses to the rhythm of the ocean. You watch the waves, you hear them, you feel them, you anticipate them. You are trying to catch them, so you can ride them. In that moment you and the wave merge, you are the ocean, with all its power, its consistency, its vastness. The motion wipes all petty concerns from your tired, over amped monkey mind, and you just fly through the water, all senses completely in harmony. For a brief while, there are no human problems. 

After I tire myself out, I eat a sandwich. It tastes so good. Then I watch the ocean for a while. I watch the people play. Humanity is at its absolute best at the ocean. Everyone is happy. You don’t haul yourself out there if you don’t want to be there, so the people who get grumpy and uptight about sand in their ass self-select out. The scene is incredibly diverse. Children playing, old people relaxing, young people being hot, married people playing paddle ball, groups of friends laughing it up over whatever bonds them together. It’s marvelous. It’s harmonious. It’s soul regenerating. It’s the opposite of being online. It’s the opposite of reading the news. 

After digesting, I take myself for a long walk. I could look at wet sand and rolling water forever. I don’t know why. It just appeals to be. As an artist I like theme and variation. This is that. The beach is like my therapist. I peruse the thoughts that need untangling and I get a grip on myself. 

Coincidently, while writing this, my favorite blogger, Dyske.com, also wrote about the beach. His wife loves to go, and he does not. It was interesting to be confronted by his complete lack of interest in my favorite activity. It forced me to consider that not everyone reading this would relate. Why does that make me feel weird? I already know that. Besides my immediate family, I don’t know anyone who goes on and on and on and on about the beach as much as me.

What I find at the beach, other people find elsewhere and that is as it should be. The world is filled with wonders, natural and manmade. The important thing is to partake of what brings you genuine joy as often as you can. Don’t chose a lesser option when you can choose joy.

Happy Cactus

Happy Cactus

I was hiking and came upon this guy. A thought floats through my head, that’s a very happy cactus. Immediately I interrogate this thought. By happy, I mean healthy? By healthy I mean unblemished? By unblemished I mean..? What do I mean?

Aren’t cacti especially adept at weathering drought? Isn’t their whole claim to evolutionary fame their ability to withstand hardship, to endure in the face of incredible scarcity? This cactus hasn’t done any of that. He looks well watered if you ask me. That’s some bright green sheen with nary a needle to mar his vanity inducing surface. Can he really be happy? What has he survived? What does he have to be so proud of except for something he is one hundred percent sure to lose? His “good” looks.

That sets me to pondering all the cactus up here that don’t inspire the thought happy. I wonder if they are in fact quite happy. There are some big ass bunches of cacti just taking over. They are clearly doing well for themselves. Some pads are scarred with dead skin that looks almost charred but new pads thrive from this base. They seem to have an indomitable spirit, a what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger kind of vibe. Are they happy? What is happy?

I want to be like these guys: tough, leathery, protected, in community, supporting, hearty, interesting, unique. Thank you to all my cactus friends, real and metaphorical. Let’s be needles out together.