Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ceaselessly Into the Past

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

Yesterday morning I acted on a realization I wrote about in my last post —my tendency to rush everything. The day before,  I had looked for opportunities to pass cars on two-lane roads, but yesterday as I was driving toward Crater Lake I reminded myself to  begin that change I want to see in myself,  and just take it easy. The few minutes I might gain weren’t worth the stress, and really, how about just enjoying the scenery? It made a huge difference In the quality of my day just to decide that the person in front of me (well, for the most part) was driving fast enough.

And then there’s what I allow into my consciousness in the car.  I finished a so-so audiobook on the way to Klamath Falls, and normally I would just start another, but yesterday morning that little voice that is trying to guide me to a richer life pointed out that a mystery or thriller  is good for passing time but that really there are far better ways of truly enhancing it.

Opera, I said to myself. How long has it been since I listened to Angela Gheorghiu, one of my favorite sopranos? On the way to Crater Lake I was bathed in Puccini, Massenet, Charpentier and others, and  when that album was done, the music switched to Mysterium, a second album by her I forgot I had. It starts with several Eastern Orthodox pieces she sings in concert with a choir . There’s something about that style of music that goes straight to a deeply embedded place far beyond where the rational brain  can travel.

And so, as I climbed through the pines to Crater Lake, my thoughts blossomed. Here I was,  traveling in geologic time, forest time, medieval church time and my own moment all at once. Most of us treat time as linear, some see it as cyclical, and some believe that it doesn’t exist at all but that everything is happening all the time. It’s far too much for my limited brain to go there, but I got a glimpse of that yesterday as I saw myself as a passing flash in the forest, a speck of dust in earth time, but still fully present as my day unfolded minute by minute.

And here I am now, on the Oregon Coast, in the temporal and spatial middle of my journey, coming from timeless mountains to boundless ocean.  Today will have new messages, I am sure, but the thought that keeps running through my mind is the closing line of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

It’s a bummer of a sentiment if you choose to invest it with a sense of hopelessness, but I don’t see it that way.  The past is the raw material of the present. We wouldn’t have mountains or music without it.  Today  will be a good day because I will bring my whole life  to meet it.






Leaving California

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Yesterday I left California.  On my first day I drove past the story of much of my life, starting with San Diego, where I first arrived in 1964 as a teenager, driving past UCSD, where I spent an important chunk of my career, to San Clemente, where the grandparents who gave me Canadian citizenship lived among horses and wild grass on a hill that is now covered with houses.

I went past the exits for Glendale, in the San Fernando Valley, where I was born, then on up the Central Valley of California to Sacramento. This stretch is also very familiar, as my first husband was from there and we traveled once or twice a year when my boys were young, to visit his family. I had originally planned to stop in Davis for the night, the site of my second birth, in 1967, when I went off to the university.  Instead, I stayed near Nancy, my “best friend for life,” whom I met at Davis, so that momentous chapter in my life was honored as well over beer and tacos at a local brewery.

Once north of Sacramento, the journey took on a new shape because I was in unfamiliar territory for the first time. I did recall having seen Mt. Shasta once, and it hit me the same way again, more as a force than a mere mountain.(See  photo below)  I slept just over the Oregon border in Klamath Falls, and am now starting the third day of my drive. In an hour or so I will leave for the short drive to Crater Lake, which I have only seen pictures of but has long been bucket list for me, then on to the Oregon Coast  for the night.

What is this journey like?  It’s more than a road trip, because I won’t be returning to my old life.  It is a relocation to a place I have never seen, but I’m okay with that. My closest friend in recent years, Jane, asked me before I left what I wanted to take with me and what I wanted to leave behind, and I didn’t have a good answer. I  like the person I am, and though I look forward to yet another chapter in my life, it doesn’t feel as reinventive as some big changes have in the past. It’s more the logical extension of the person I am.  I am hoping to take my best parts with me, which include resilience, curiosity, and joy in the new and undiscovered. I will need to leave behind some reluctance to engage with other people, and a sense that I need to be in a rush about everything. In a way, this is a second form of retirement, moving beyond what my post-professorial life looked like in a San Diego without the escape of cruising. I will use my strengths to build this new life into what it needs to be.

Last night I had my first “what the hell have I done?” thought, and I am sure it won’t be my last. But the answer to “ what am I going to do today.” has certainly gotten far more interesting. So I am off to Crater Lake and beyond. I’ll tell you what today was like  after I have found out for myself. Waving to you from the road!




Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Finally on the road to go find out the answer to this wild and precious question.