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Local Inspiration

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 hollyhocks.

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 passersby.

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 bear witness.

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.” . . .



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