Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trail Thoughts

Heavily in my thoughts, a ‘thunk!,’ caught my attention. Looking down, my foot broke a twig and brought my mind back to the trail. I was about ¾ of the way up to the overlook. “Curious,” I thought. I recalled my first trek up the trail, a few months ago. Every step held my full attention. Not knowing what laid beyond each bend, I looked around carefully, even fearfully. How far was it? Pant, pant pant. I didn’t know if I could I make it up the mountain.

Now, I drifted on the trail, lost in my thoughts until a sharp noise, a darting lizard or a snake laying on the trail forced me to refocus. The walk that daunted me so much in the beginning was now so familiar, I didn’t fret the distance. Having become so familiar, I rambled, without much thought of how much easier I could climb the trail. Until I heard the “crack!”

I appreciated how far I’d come in just a few months. Then back to my thoughts again…

Now again, thinking about my walk, I wonder about the things that 'throw us for a loop’. Do they happen to force us to pay attention to our surroundings if we are just ‘coasting along’? Do tightrope walkers do it for the thrill of feeling each heart-pounding second as they step into the high air? When we thrill seek, do we do so in order to remain present for just a few seconds? Maybe it’s just me - someone who is prone to coast in dreams and thoughts until some random noise reminds to pay attention to what is right in front of me. And also what I've left behind on the trail...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Have a nice day!

As I drove through the vineyards on my way over to my coffee shop destination, I couldn’t retain my snarky thoughts. At home, I stewed over the insincere misuse of “Have a Nice Day!” But seeing the patchwork of yellow and burgundy grapevine leaves sprawling before me, how could I retain such negativity? A falcon passed overhead – one of my favorite birds. Before my departure, I thought of one my encounters at the coffee shop. A new trainee, middle-aged, seeming out of her element wished me with rote insincerity, “Have a Nice Day!” I expected this from the more chain-like, ubiquitous Starbucks but not at my precious Peet’s Coffee where I usually was helped by funky hair-dyed, pierced Goths that were surprisingly chipper. I thought, I’d even prefer the usual Goth, downturn, “can’t be bothered to exert my energy on you” persona.

So chipper me entered the coffee shop, and I got served by the “can’t be bothered to exert energy on you,” Goth. I picked up my coffee and slunk away. I considered taking my earlier statement back. I didn’t want to helped by a downturn, “can’t be bothered to exert my energy on you” person. Setting up my computer at the table, I realized that I had forgotten to get an internet access code. I went back to counter, now singled-handedly ‘manned’ by one server, and waited behind a gaggle of seniors struggling to navigate the curious names of the coffee items. Fortunately, the former mis-user of, “Have a Nice Day,” who’d been stationed at the bean counter, came to my rescue seeing that I needed help. She guessed I forgot the code and I only had to do a short-hand to have her print one out. She didn’t offer me, “Have a Nice Day,” but a very sincere act of service. How I appreciated that!

How things change in a drive… In a thought…. In an instant… Or instance…

What brought all this “Have a Nice Day!,” frenzy on? I recently watched George Carlin's classic, "Have a nice day!" routine. It's hilarious and perfect for the moment when someone's "have a nice day..." can push you over the edge...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I love you Charlie

As a life long fan of Charles M. Schultz & his beloved Peanuts characters,I had to visit the Charles M. Schultz museum located in Santa Rosa, CA. I finally got the chance last May. As I approached the museum, the Charlie Brown Christmas theme blared out from outside speakers. On the inside, cheery, enthusiastic workers in bright yellow shirts greeted every visitor. I asked the ticket seller what it was like to work there. "It's great that we get paid to be here," he replied. "No kidding!" I thought. And this response echoed on. “Best job ever”, the volunteer docent ticket replied to my inquiry. In her 70's, she told us she'd been a fan for years and was an honor for her to volunteer there.

In the video cove, I watched a short movie about the museum and Charles M. Schultz's life. The inspiration for the museum came from Charles M. Schultz’s wife and friend who wanted a place to house Schultz's work for everyone to experience. His wife even transferred his office so his fans could experience how her husband worked every day.

Thinking about his wife's affection for his work makes me teary-eyed. I have a certain sensitivity. I can feel the feelings around me. Once walking down the street, happily, I became overwhelmed with sadness. I turned my head, looked over, and saw a young woman sitting on a tree stand, crying.

Whether it’s a gift or a curse, I can tap into emotions. I think it makes me a stronger writer and possibly a better humanitarian. Because of this “sensitivity” I don’t venture to places lightly. A sport’s bar can be toxic to me. Not that I dislike sports, just the anger that can erupt around when a goal isn't scored. Such emotions hurt my inner being. As I passed by the exhibits I became overwhelmed with tears. But these were happy tears. I realized it was because there was so much love in the museum. Everyone who came to the museum, young & old shared this love and filled up the museums walls. And this filled up my inner being with happiness.

Upstairs were the relics of Schultz’s life: His early drawings; His World War II uniform; His first printed cartoons - all the things that made him the artist he was. In another room was where his wife moved his office. He had a giant desk, of course. Opposite that were glass-cased bookshelves filled with books upon books ranging from Dickens to Fitzgerald (I’m going by memory, I can’t remember them all). He had a bust of Beethoven, of course, and Mozart.

Ruminating on what he chose to surround himself by, I felt Schultz's cared deeply about the world and this influenced his work daily. I loved his cartoons as a kid. I didn't realize the irony in his work until I was an adult. Regardless, I felt the love. Perhaps he had the "sensitivity" too and channeled it into his work.

Everyone has their own reason to be drawn to his work. For me, it's his humanity and great spirit as an artist. And that's why I love Charlie. And I truly appreciate the rarity of place to have so much love in it that I became overwhelmed with joyful tears.