Recently, I gave a speech for an
historical organization about all the inspirational people who
live on the Peninsula. Afterward, a young man approached me. He
told me he had just retuned to duty here after serving two years
in Afghanistan and felt “guilty” for being in paradise.
“The waves are so blue, the
fantastic forests, the friendly people,” he effused. “It’s
heaven compared to where I’ve been.” . . .
The next day, on a walk through a
charming residential area in Pacific Grove, I encountered a
woman I have seen working in a local shop. Her smile and clothes
are always bright – a very attractive woman who handles life
beautifully with one arm. We spoke beneath a halo of sun,
surrounded by picket fences and gardens crawling with
I was speechless when she told me
she was 80-something. She looks 60. And I had to bite my tongue
when she said she had lost her daughter in one of the towers
during 9/11 – not to mention her husband just died.
“How do you survive these
trials?” I asked, flabbergasted.
“Oh, it isn’t easy but I guess
I’ve always been a glass is ¾ full kind of person.” . . .
This morning I awoke and while
lying in bed did a gratitude list from A-Z. It is a form of
prayer and meditation that I invented and, often, I pick a topic
for the list. Today’s was about living on this spellbinding
Nirvana we call the Peninsula.
“A” is for the clean Air we
breathe, “B” for the natural Beauty, etc. . . .
Then I walked on Asilomar beach
where Sunday tourists were thick as sand fleas and a group of
about 60 martial artists were throwing each other over their
backs and tussling in the sand . . .
I’ve seen weddings in the same
spot where the altar was blown down and guests, seated in white
chairs, had to scuttle backwards as the unplanned tide swept in.
I’ve witnessed a sandcastle
professional teaching a throng of business CEOs how to build the
ultimate transient dream castle. Here, on this sacred sand, I’ve
seen the blue vault of sky speckled with kites of every shape
and hue; picked up litters of gleaming abalone shells (in the
‘70s); tapped my feet on quivering moon jellies; and tossed into
the sea gumboot chitons (those orange football shaped critters
that leave white butterfly shaped vertebrae in the sand).
Sometimes I add to the “cairn”
displays here (mystical rock stacks that seem to defy gravity).
One day I shaped in the sand a “Mr. and Mrs.” with hair and a
goatee of kelp; and white shell teeth that brought smiles from
Asilomar is a playground to
people and dogs of every nation and a place where lovesick
youths cast their wishes.
In fact, tripping down the
boardwalk one day I witnessed a handsome couple on a bench. The
young man was on one knee and slipping a very large diamond onto
the giddy fiancés finger.
“He just proposed,” she shrieked
to me, a total stranger, seeming to want someone – anyone – to
So, doing what any mother might
do, I hugged her and congratulated her.
Breathlessly she asked, “Did I
say yes? I’m so excited I’m not sure!”
And I withheld an unsavory joke I
had recently heard on Comedy Central in which the comedian said,
“Divorce should be easy when you tell the judge that you were
completely surprised and expected to make a decision for the
rest of your life in 20 seconds.” . . .