Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

Here I am in sunny rainy California, having traversed much of the USA yesterday. We started out in good old Ohio, then flew over Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California.

The Atlanta-San Jose leg of the flight offered a GPS tracker of the flight on the in-seat television screen. The visual representation illuminated just how fast air travel actually is. I only wish the toggling between map and data would have allowed more time for perusing the map.

I was traveling with a companion who has been terrified of heights for several years. Terrified enough that he could not stay in a hotel room above the first floor, felt iffy about driving over a river on a bridge, and got vertigo just looking up sometimes. He ended up finding some amazing resources that got him on the plane and through takeoff and landing, twice, without having a screaming heebie-jeebie fit. I noticed, however, the other passenger in our row discreetly moved before takeoff when he saw the airsickness bag at the ready. Thankfully, the bag was unneeded, other than for knowing that it was there.

 When I think of California, I have a jumbled impression of congestion, and traffic, and chaos, and riots, and excess, and wealth, and earthquakes. Seems I have imagined it to be quite the dramatic place. And yet, last night as I drove from the airport to the hotel, I was struck by the ease I experienced. Almost no traffic. Very well-marked roads. Plenty of notice. Excellent signage. In that short drive, I reflected that my hometown is the one that ended up seeming the most congested and chaotic!

It’s a lot like the story of the blind men checking out the elephant. I am quite certain there is plenty of congestion and/or chaos of different sorts in this state. Haven’t I read about their financial woes? But I am always so pleasantly surprised when I find myself in a place of ease.

I had always heard life was supposed to be difficult, and I thought the more difficult it was, the better I was doing at living it. Generally, what I have always found most difficult is unending sensory stimulation, whether that is in the form of clutter, heavy traffic, unrelenting advertising, bombastic soundtracks accompanying visually explosive films, or constant noise of any type.

How I love the places, becoming more frequent for me, that are peaceful, that allow for reflection and savoring the moment. Today, when I arrived at The Big Basin Redwoods State Park and got out of the car, I stepped into a place of complete immersion in sensory stimulation that was peaceful and easy. A nose full of the fresh scent of Redwood trees; eyes soothed by the sight of tree trunks lifting my eyes up and up and up; ears resting in the quiet, undisturbed by the sounds of the city, and filled with the quality of peace I sense in the woods;  an awareness of touching the energy of the place which surrounded me with a comforting balm; and the taste of the air itself, breathing its peace into my heart.

Grace comes in the most unexpected places.

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