As a young soldier in 1974, on the journey of a lifetime in California, one might suppose it would be unlikely for me to know how important the events of those days would be, and even less chance that I would appreciate them fully at that point in my life, and prior to the accident, I would have been the first one to agree. But something changed inside of me after the accident on that lonely stretch of coastal highway. It was very much like awakening after years of being asleep–a kind of Rip Van Winkle effect–and when I had finally gotten back up on my own two feet afterwards, I began to view the world around me in a wholly different way. Sunny days seemed brighter; faces seemed more expressive; challenges seemed less daunting; and my heart and soul felt more alive than ever before. I started to record my thoughts more often, and kept a journal of sorts, accumulating pages throughout the remainder of my tour in what now seemed even more like paradise. One particularly day held a series of notable episodes throughout the day that concluded with an especially spectacular sunset. Throughout the day, I attended to several of the natural settings all around me, spending time walking along the beach at Monterey Bay, strolling through the wooded area behind the barracks on top of the hill where the school was located, and when I arrived on the beach at sunset, I was once again overwhelmed with a compelling need to write down what was transpiring inside of me. Here is what I recorded that day:
“The Spring had slipped by unnoticed, and the late summer winds whisked me away to this foreign and too distant shore, which unlike the home shore, dripped of radiant sunshine and violent coloration. Thrown into the grips of newness, I was immediately entranced with anticipation of what was to come. The events of the days that followed are blurred in my memory by the swiftness of their occurrence, yet I seem to recall isolated moments of wondrous sights, which cast my mind beyond its earlier scope, and opened avenues never before explored within the framework of my experience.
Daniel Beaman Photography.com
So vast and varied are the wonders that befall a man in these times, that to choose only one as the dominant wonder might be a task too great to assume. However, as I sit here on this stoney shore, I cannot ignore the tremendous obviousness of the Pacific Ocean. As the day slowly slips by into darkness, hundreds of people line the roads of this great area and stand bewitched by the sight of it–as if to say that this was something of value to be treasured–or perhaps, a mystery which all seek to solve.
The ocean is a constant entity, filling the air with its salty odor–its crashing sounds climbing into your ears, roaring like some great lion. If someone was able to contain this force–this energy–the power would be ever as consistent and boundless. The rocks dotting the shoreline, often concentrating its power into numerous local coves, are like sentinels against the mighty abyss, holding the immense force at bay. The sky, constantly in motion, is never again to be the same as this very moment. The clouds, lit by the setting sun, seem ablaze in the heavens. Beams of light shoot forth between the great masses of floating moisture, as if they were beacons from a distant land, or from heaven itself.
Never before have I been aware of such innate beauty. Only here have I witnessed the harmonious persistence of a life force seemingly contained and confined, yet, also bursting forth with such intensity. The sight seems to mystify those who would dare to cast their eyes toward the horizon. They stand motionless, without words, almost as though imprisoned where they stand, or hypnotized by the hand of the Almighty. Such a thing to behold, and yet, quite another to grasp.
The facial expressions of the worshipers register deep thought, pensiveness– a desire to see beyond the horizon, or maybe, they are instead seeking an answer within. Perhaps the ocean and the sky ablaze reflect like a mirror, the thoughts buried within. I am nearly paralyzed with awe and must struggle to withdraw.”
2 thoughts on “California Impressions Part II”
John, I found this writing to be really lovely and it called to mind the thought that when we allow ourselves to see the world around us differently we can then have the freedom to see ourselves differently as well. I miss the ocean, thanks for creating it here for me…
I am so glad that my efforts had such a positive response from you. I admire your writing very much, and the theme of your blog is an enormously important theme to explore in our crazy 21st century world. Blogs like yours are a great inspiration to other writers like me. We NEED writers in the world who love to read and who actually employ the talents of a curious and insightful mind.
The way I saw myself before the events I am describing currently in my blog was very narrow and shallow. These events seemed to me to be thrust upon me when they were happening, but in retrospect, it seems that I NEEDED these events in order to see myself differently.
Thank you so much for visiting with me, and I hope you will find more here as time goes on that gives you cause to comment again…..John H.