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Arm Chair Tour: Feast of Lanterns is Sensual Feast

So, itís a sweltering Pacific Grove day Ė an oxymoron if ever there was one Ė and Iíve stopped by The Ice Cream Shoppe, just down from the post office, for a scoop of mango sorbet. My taste buds wince with pleasure as I sit on a bench outside Toastieís and let the cool tropical fruit bathe my mouth.

Overhead, jubilant little lanterns dance in the breeze and I lapse into a reverie about all the Feast of Lanterns Iíve attended in my 33 years in P.G.

When I was younger, my friends and I would splay ourselves across a blanket at Berwick Park, usually shivering from the fog, and wait for the sky to catch on fire.

Oh, the delight of watching the enactment of the woebegone Mandarinís daughter Ė Queen Topaz Ė and her lover and the parade of boats, their masts strung with twinkling lights.

The hilarity of the pet parade, the feasting and merriment, the feeling of community have always made me proud to reside in Butterfly Town U.S.A.

Then the crowds grew, and I started watching the fireworks from a secret hill in Monterey that provides a sweeping view of the bay. In fact, one year I broke my foot and was so intent on seeing the fireworks display that I watched it from the car, high from the painkiller Iíd taken, my foot propped high on the dash board.

Well, years went by and lazy curmudgeon that Iíve become, I made a delightful discovery. I can actually see, through my window, the explosives erupt while sitting in front of the TV on my bark-a-lounger!

And thatís exactly how I intend to watch them this year, unless my neighborís trees have grown so high they block the view. . . .

Follow Your Bliss
*(This is an interactive story. Be sure to read to the end!)

The ocean is a giant teacup with sapphire liquid sloshing around inside it and tipping over the sand bar that crosses Carmel River. Iím power walking and the weather is a global warming potpourri: fog, sun, heat, cool, humidity, wind. Only a few solitary souls have parked their umbrellas here.

Carmel Beach, on the other hand, the more obvious beach at the end of Ocean Avenue, is swarming with tourists who have brought their boogie boards, canines, grandmothers and tiny tots to ply the frothy waves and poke at sand crabs.

I am uninspired. Empty. How can this be? I have just met with the printer yesterday to look at the proofs/blue line/galleys for my book StarWords and, be still my heart, it is GORGEOUS! The paper is heavier quality than I expected, and the cover colors are a knock-out. Itís soft cover (costs prohibitive for hard) but youíll never know it because itís so thick. Itís a coffee table book, alright, landscape shaped.

At any rate, even on this glittering, fecund day, I am morbidly depressed and wondering how, in this state of mind, I will ever complete all the tasks necessary to get the book to market.

So, I do what I have learned to do, even when I am deeply dubious that anyone/thing is listening. I pray.

ďDear higher power, please send me inspiration to go ahead with this book.Ē

I pass a colorfully dressed elderly woman with the most beautiful albino collie. His fur is thinning just like mine and you can see his pink, freckled skin beneath.

ďHe is unusual, alright,Ē the woman says as we smile our greetings.

Still, no word from Neptune.

Now Iíve passed Carmel Point, Tor House and the butterfly house, and stop on that fearsome turn where the road signs point in both directions. I gaze at Point Lobos, a prehistoric Treasure Island, and pray some more.

Mind you, I am not affiliated with any religion, much to the chagrin of my staunch Catholic friends. I do, however, believe in a power greater than myself. Heck, the ocean puts my powers to shame. And I know prayer works, even if itís merely a connection to the river of subconscious thought that runs deeply - and just beneath - conscious thought.

Granted, Iíve walked a couple miles by now and my endorphins have kicked in, but I finally have an epiphany! An inspiration: I am a scribe and a scribeís job is to scribble or perish.

However, since I returned home from a 10 day vacation/retreat to my beloved Sycamore Springs Mineral Resort in Avila Beach, I have done no writing except to pay bills.

There, (which I will soon write about) I had pledged not to write unless I felt moved to do so and, so, left my computer at home. However, I did take along a journal and ended up writing every single day about the wonders I beheld. It was sheer inspiration to drive Highway One and I habitually grabbed for my notepad, at intervals, while speeding through fields of late season wildflowers.

I couldnít stop myself from writing.

(Speaking of, as I type this story on a pullout beside the bay, a humongous Winnebago tries to pull into the space ahead of me. A little boy peeps out the mini blinds on its back window, grinning. Then a man gets out of the behemoth and starts directing until the driver has backed it to within an inch of my bumper, at which time I honk my horn and yell, ďThatís close enough!Ē Reminds me of the movie ďThe Long Trailer,Ē wherein, the Ricardos take their trailer to stay with relatives, and as Lucy guides nubile driver, Ricky, into the driveway, her aunt squeals in horror as he backs over her prize rose bushes).

At any rate, Iím on a roll now and I mustnít stop even if no one is paying me to write right now. The word I intend to spread about StarWords is that the 62 people featured in it are leading rich lives because they have followed their bliss. And they are merely a fraction of my interviewees who have proved to me time and again that each one of us has a calling(s) and by following it, we can live rewarding lives.

This walk has convinced me to write daily even if itís a two-line joke.

*So, what inspires you? Write and tell me about it so that I may share it with my readers.

What is your calling? What delights you? Organizing closets? Caretaking? Mountain climbing? Skydiving? Dog grooming? Saving lives? Taste testing cheeses?

Are you pursuing it? How? Why/why not?

Is it a hobby or a business?

I look forward to hearing from you and send my wish that you are following your bliss . . .



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