Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Let me first say that I am greatly looking forward to this summer, as it holds within its vast arms an array of joy, beauty, and opportunity. Ah yes, the summer of 2007. So it begins. This trip to California signaled the start of my summer and its adventures, and let me say that there may be no better way to begin one’s summer than with a free trip to California for four days. I headed to California with my girlfriend’s family, the Harmans, to attend the wedding of my girlfriend’s best friend, Jenny, in Irvine. The trip to Cali was good, I have always enjoyed road trips and took the opportunity to read and reflect on a variety of things. I was sitting, reading Emerson, and I nodded back and forth between Emerson’s words and trying not to drift into road induced sleep. I closed the book and shut my eyes for a moment, Emerson’s authoritative words echoing wisdom in my head… “God will not make his words manifest by cowards…” I stopped to wonder at his words and what they could mean if I really took them to heart. You see, I seem to have a problem with living in the moment, with not worrying about what is to come. I feel like I am constantly living in three different worlds, the past, the present, and the future. It is one of my greatest faults, I think. It makes me emotional and unstable to a degree, and I feel this restlessness creeping under my skin like some disease. Emerson addresses this problem, by making an example of a rose…“These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God today. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence…” Oh how I long for that. So, with the risk of sounding rather foolish, I will tell you that I spent the rest of the trip to California wishing I was a pretty rose, and I could sit under someone’s window or in a garden, and people would point and marvel at my beauty and simplicity, and I would simply smile to myself and think, “why yes, I am quite beautiful, thank you.”
As we arrived at our hotel in Irvine, I was greeted by a cool gust of air that tasted of salt and the sea. I must tell you now that I do not find much else as refreshing as I find that simple, relaxing, feel of cool California air. Its as if even the air senses that the coast is about relaxation and calm, and rejects the heat and busyness of urban life. After finding dinner at a nearby restaurant, we headed back to the hotel where I did a bit of solo exploring. After a journey to the gym and the hot tub, I sought out the lobby’s large chairs for a bit of coffee and a good book. As I was sitting there I listened to two girls sitting in front of me talking in a language I had never heard. After a few minutes of attempting to decipher what they were speaking, I decided to ask. A South-African dialect, they told me, speaking in a heavily accented English. Ah, I thought, interesting. I then proceeded to perform my best South-African accent (influenced heavily by Leo DiCaprio’s accent in Blood Diamond) with what I thought was a flawless delivery of the line, “That diamond is my ticket off this god-forsaken continent!” As I delivered this line I shook my hands a bit for effect and gave my best Leo face. Although not quite perfect, they laughed and told me that the accent was pretty good, for an American.
The next day we ventured to Huntington Beach, where we spent a good portion of the day leading up to the wedding. Upon arriving I was immediately taken aback by the shear beauty and size of the ocean. The waves crashing like free-form verse on the shore sang a vernacular for fish that sounded beautiful. I think that God must have created massive beautiful things like the ocean simply to remind us how small and insignificant we are and how big He is. As I stood, the words to one of Shawn McDonald’s songs rang in my head… “The same hands that created all of this, they created you and I…” Beautiful, I thought, and cold. The ocean is really cold.
The wedding was beautiful as well. Right on the beach, ten feet from the Pacific Ocean, the happy couple that was Jenny and Josh were married, much to the delight of several hundred onlookers. And it was nicer than I thought it would be, honestly. Despite the fact that the tide didn’t rise and swallow them into the ocean as they recited their vows, it was still a good, short, ceremony. To tell you the truth I have never been a fan of weddings, and every time another friend of mine with a foolish grin and a sparkle in his eye tells me he is getting married I roll my eyes and say, “sure you are…I’ll see you sometime next year.” I think all this has to do with some unconscious thought I have that neither my friend nor his fiancée have any idea what they are doing; and in their defense I have begun to think that I am probably wrong, but it is still easier to be pessimistic than optimistic because, after all, I am in some ways losing a friend. Yeah, I know, I can be pretty superficial and shallow despite the 22 years I have lived, but it’s my right to be superficial and shallow, so there. Anyway, I did enjoy the wedding, mostly because I got to watch my girlfriend, perfectly framed by the ocean and glowing a bit as if she was an angel from some celestial place, standing by her best friend as she was married. The whole thing was rather beautiful I suppose, and now Jenny and Josh are married and are very happy because now they can squeeze each other’s butts and such while other people are around.
All of this wedding stuff got me thinking about how Emerson talks about peace and love and truth and beauty, and he seems to think that they are some of the best things in the world, and, come to think of it, I guess Jesus thought the same thing. And the thing of it is, when two people get married and they have a Godly love burning passionately, deeply within them, you can tell. You can see it in their eyes, you can hear it in the way they talk about each other and how they glance at one another from across the room. It is as if some force has a hold of them and it radiates love, truth, beauty and peace. And what’s more, it pulls people to them. When two people love each other like Jenny and Josh do, people want to be around them, want to watch them, want to be their friends and catch some of their love for themselves. Anyway, all this to say that I think love and marriage are two beautiful things, and it’s a good thing too, because there is a shortage of true and beautiful things in the world.
We began the next day with a trip to Newport Beach, where we spent almost all day in the sun boogie boarding, playing in the sand and sleeping. A true summer dream. And I will tell you that it is during these times that I have these terribly romantic (albeit unrealistic) dreams of what the future could be, and I closed my eyes and tried to taste what it would be like to live a life completely devoted to surfing and playing beach volleyball. Other than the possible sunburns, that life seemed pretty good, and I resolved to incorporate that unrealistic vision somehow into my realistic future. Not an easy thing to do let me tell you. So I eventually came to a sort of semi-realistic collaborative compromise between my Id and Superego, and decided to eventually become a surfing lawyer. I could have waterproof business cards in my wetsuit and, just as I am coming out of the water, someone would ask me who I was to which I would shake my long golden locks of hair and reply, “dude, I’m a lawyer.” Then I would hand out a business card and slowly walk down the beach and into the sunset. I also thought about incorporating my love of poetry into that scheme, and I imagined myself sitting by a beach fire-pit at night and, under the stars and in the cool air, writing poetry and playing my acoustic guitar while my long blonde hair and beard blew quietly in the wind. So as you can see and as I earlier confessed, I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to things like this, and all of this was rattling through my mind as I spent a day on the beach.
The next day was equally enjoyable, with a trip to Laguna beach and a relaxing ride back to Phoenix in the back of a Chrystler Sebring. During this time I did a lot of thinking, because I knew that I was headed back to Phoenix and thus back to real life (at least for the time being.) And I had the hardest time rationalizing all the hours I would be spending at work in the next few weeks, and it seemed that happiness and relaxation were such fleeting things, like they were given to me only long enough for me to really miss them when they were gone. But as I thought and prayed about this on the way home I realized that I was making a huge mistake: I was assuming that I was entitled to something. I have this deeply embedded feeling that I somehow deserve a simple, stress-free existence, and that if somehow life does not line up with what I want then there has been some mistake. But I realize now that as God happens to say in His word, I have been bought with a price. I am not my own. And any fun vacation time I am allowed to enjoy is nothing more than the kindness of God, giving me something I don’t deserve because He is loving and caring. It is was a radical change in thinking if you want to know, and ever since embracing this thought my life has gained tremendous joy. Instead of feeling sorry for myself because I think I deserve some easy existence, I thank God for what he has given me and enjoy breaks from work when they come. It takes a lot of pressure off too. Instead of worrying about what I will do, who I will marry or what job I will work, I only need to worry about God and whether I am doing what he wants me to. To sum it up in a few words I would say that living this way is freedom. My girlfriend Emily tells me that nothing comes without hard work, and that I have to work just like everyone else and I shouldn’t get so emotional about it. She says that there is a point where you have to stop thinking about everything and just do it. I know she is right, but for some reason there is something deep inside me, some dark beast of a thing that pulls on me and makes me feel like life shouldn’t be so tough. Emily also tells me that I take myself too seriously, that I take life too seriously; and I guess this trip was good for me that way, because lying there on the beach, watching my friend get married, laughing and talking with everyone, I realized that this whole life is a gift, and that I should just relax and enjoy the ride instead of analyzing every little thing that happens. I am so blessed, and I thank God for it.