Attitude of Gratitude

On Tuesday, October 20th, Hurricane Rick began to sputter and his power diminish in the face of a dry front moving in from the southwest. A friend had the day before claimed to be putting her mojo onto the storm blowing at images in the same direction from which originated that very high. Did Cristina’s mojo really made Rick shrink?

No matter how, shrink he did and by Tuesday evening he was already only a tropical storm with winds of 65 miles per hour – tame by comparison with speeds of 180 mph measured on Sunday with gusts estimated to be as high as 220 mph. Based on predictions that Rick would further weaken, the decision was made to depart as scheduled the very next day, Rick permitting.

Wednesday morning the first order of business was to call the airline and find out if the flight was leaving on time or at all. A nice lady from Alaska Airlines confirmed that as of that time 7:00am PST, the flight was still scheduled to leave on time and that the only weather that might be a potential cause of delay was “thunder storms.”

Preparations were hastened with arrival at the airport accomplished in plenty of time for what was hoped would be the usual 10:30am departure. Once again the question was asked “is the flight leaving as scheduled?” An affirmative answer was received, it was blue skies and calm in San Jose del Cabo. After days of sitting on the edge of our seats wondering if the coast would be hit with all the force of a Category 5 hurricane we were thankful for the reprieve from Mother Nature.

Waiting for the plane to board the internet was accessed via the T-mobile wireless connection available in the San Francisco International Airport for $6.00 US + $0.10 per minute. This was unlike the friendly and helpful Portland Airport where wireless was discovered to be available for free!

An email from a surfing friend confirmed that Hurricane Rick spun out the best waves of the decade, which had been breaking a few days earlier at a special break near our home. Professional surfers and surfers of all abilities turned out to put on an amazing show of acrobatics in the tubing waves. The surf was heavy and non-stop – not a time for beginners and difficult even for seasoned surfers.

Days earlier, when news of the storm and the waves it was generating arose, it was thought that it was possibly a blessing to be away from the surf during this time. Maybe you think this odd? To be thankful to miss incredible waves?

As a relatively new surfer with only seven years experience it is possible to find that the surf is more powerful than one can handle. And this is particularly true when one has not been surfing a lot and is therefore not in peak condition. So dreams were had of the perfect waves, but the realities of the danger of going out in large surf provided a reality check to the dreamer. Big waves are powerful and hurricane swells are consistent with wave after wave marching in like robotic soldiers stopped by nothing in their path. A surfer can be caught in rip tides or quickly become exhausted just trying to get out to where the waves break. And then there is the dreaded hold-down, which usually happens after a major wipe out. The surfer is grabbed by the wave and pushed to the bottom of the ocean, sometimes onto rocks and in really consistent surf they can be held there as wave after wave pushes down in succession. Luck or a break in the waves eventually allows the oxygen deprived surfer to return to the surface where they might not even have enough time to gulp some air before the next wave slams on their head.

So this is why it was thought that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to miss out on the epic surf?

The landing in San Jose del Cabo airport was smooth as silk and before we knew it we were on our way to pick up the SUV at the nearby Los Cabos Mini Storage. Looking around it was observed that an ominous dark grey blanket of cloud and rain was moving in from the northeast. “Look! It’s raining at home!” The size of the front was impressive and we hastened to get our fruit and vegetables at one of the roadside stands so we could start the journey towards home.

Heading North on Mexican Highway No. 1, as we realized that the storm would envelop us sooner than we thought, drops of rain the size of nickels started to dot the windshield. Drops turned to buckets and the rain came down so hard that many drivers pulled over to the side of the highway or put on their hazard lights and slowed to a crawl. We instead sped up, realizing that if enough rain fell the Santa Catarina Arroyo, a large normally dry riverbed between us and our home, would quickly turn into a raging torrent, blocking indefinitely passage to the Palo Escopeta Road.

The drive to reach the arroyo was along a pot-hole ridden windy street though one of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of San Jose. As we bumped along, water coming up over the hood of the car in great sheets as we crossed puddles the size of small lakes, I braced against the imagined ruptured tire or broken axel. But we continued on, unimpeded by the gaping holes lying hidden under the rushing water covering the road.

We reached the arroyo and looked both ways. “Go straight to Santa Catarina!” I urged, knowing the alternate route would take us the long way through the arroyo, thus increasing the chances of our getting caught by a wall of water that might be rushing our way – such is the nature of the flash flood. As it turned out it was the only choice, as we passed the “Y” to the alternate route it had already become a solid river of water.

We reached the other side and could breathe a small sigh of relief. “Only two more arroyos to go!” The arroyos at a rancho just East of the village of Palo Escopeta and the large arroyo near our home in Las Vinoramas still lay between us and our home.

As luck would have it, the concern about the other two arroyos was unwarranted. The skies began to clear within a few miles of San Jose and the road became less a river and more of a road. The going was slow with all the new pot holes and large erosion channels cut in the sandy surface, but 80 minutes of bumping along and the house was in sight. The large Arroyo Las Vinoramas had not run at all. At the gate a welcoming party of six dogs greeted us most enthusiastically. A sense of deep gratitude descended along with the sun.

Today it was discovered that the reality check sensed while mind-riding huge barreling waves in the days prior to our arrival was warranted. It turns out that in those epic waves served up by Hurricane Rick, a surfer friend with decades experience almost drown when a wave held her down for a long time. I imagined myself in that same situation, trying not to panic with lungs feeling like they would explode in their demand for oxygen and a body flying around under water like a rag doll in a washing machine. The thought reverberated, “that could have been me.”

Gratitude x 3.

Should I stay or should I go?

We’ve all been faced with one dilemma or another. Some are big, some are small. Vanilla or chocolate? Half & half or soy milk? College or travel? To be or not to be?

The dilemma expressed in the title of today’s blog could have several meanings. Many of us recognize it as the title of the hit single by UK punk rock band The Clash. Originally, released in 1982, it quickly became an anthem for those of us in high school. Not only this song, but everything about the Clash influenced our generation – our thinking, our hairstyles, our clothing and of course the music we played.

Buzzed hair, shaved to the skin, spiked what was left with gel, and altered our fathers’ abandoned suits – narrowed legs, tore sleeves – and pulled stick-thin 60s ties out from the back of closets.

We danced, pogoed and slammed to the sound of this and other punk rock bands like the Dead Kennedys, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. Whether we knew what they were saying with their anti-establishment, leftist lyrics, or not, it didn’t matter. It was a new sound. The Clash’s London Calling double album was the anthem for a generation, the generation labelled “X”. Our dilemma was how to overcome the smothering influence and the “we did it first, we did it better” attitude of all our hippy, free-love, flower-power, formerly acid-dropping, ganga-smoking parents.

The origins of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” dilemma have been the source of some speculation. Legend points to several band members’ uncertainty about whether to stick with the band, while tensions between members and their record label grew. The reality however, is more banal – like so many hit songs, it’s about a relationship, penned by band member Mick Jones while he decided whether to leave his long-time girlfriend – not the anti-establishment stuff of which the Clash is best known. Surprised?

My dilemma has nothing to do with music and everything to do with nature. Hurricane Rick formed off of the Southwest coast of Mexico a few days ago and grew into a very dangerous Category 5 beast with hurricane force winds that extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km).

Winds are topping 175 miles an hour – a whopping 280 kph. In a bit of synchronicity, tropical storm force winds extend outwards up to 175 miles from the eye of the storm as well. It is the second largest Category 5 hurricane on record for Pacific region.

It’s making waves with faces 50 feet tall out at sea.

Now while Laird Hamilton and others of his ilk might be rubbing their hands together at the thought of this prospect, I am thinking of our home on the beach atop a bluff that can’t be much higher than 50 feet and just what a 50 foot wave might do to it and neighboring properties. I’m stuck in California and not scheduled to fly back to Baja California Sur until Wednesday – right when they are predicting the storm will move over the tip of the peninsula.

So do I stay here in California, safe and sound? Or do I hasten and change flights to get down there Tuesday or earlier in the hopes that the rain will not have begun nor the arroyos to run – that a path to our home on the Sea of Cortez will remain?

Six sweet dogs, our family, await our return and are oblivious to the impending storm, along with our caretaker Felipe to whom the internet is a unknown force in the world.

And then there is the fact that if home is not reached ahead of the storm it could be several days before it can be reached, depending on the amount of rain the storm dumps. Inches of rain dropped on the desert in hours means dangerous flash floods and dry riverbeds become raging torrents, impassable by car, even with 4×4.

And so, the refrain continues to play over and over in the head “Should I stay or should I go?” [and the guitar sings bana-pana-bam-pa, bana-pana-ba-pa!] “Rock the Casbah!”

More info on THE CLASH.

Paradox and Purpose

Each person comes into this world with a specific destiny – he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered, some work has to be completed. You are not here accidentally – you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you.


Osho was a 20th century Indian mystic who had a profound impact on the international community, particularly artists and the intelligentsia of the western nations . His teachings were discovered through the highly regarded photographic Dutch-Polish artist Michel Schulc Krzyzanowski, who frequents the region of Baja California Sur where life is lived much of the time. Osho is credited with having a profound influence on the artist’s life, turning it around 180 degrees. Naturally, there was curiosity to know the teacher of the artist who encouraged new thinking and writing.

And so the teachings of Osho were sought with his lectures on “Creativity” currently being read. In the hopes that, like the profound photographic artist, the dream of experiencing deep levels of creativity will be realized.

The dates on each entry to this blog indicate that it has been quite a long while since writing this blog. There are many reasons for this lack of productivity, but the bottom line is that writing has not been happening in the life of the aspiring writer. To her great dismay.

Blame could be laid at the feet of the heat – a summer that was so hot that the brain cells went on strike and the entire body’s energy systems seemed to be failing. Attempts at actions requiring any effort at all were invariably derailed by a sense of impending heat stroke. Followed by a heavy depression resulting from the sense of isolation and inaction, leading further to yet more inaction.

Or a preoccupation throughout the period could be presented as cause – what was an overwhelming sense of urgency to know what the purpose of this life is. A sense that the destiny of which Osho spoke has not been realized. A great questioning of the value of any writing that might be done now or in the future. This then, in addition to the heat and the depression, further paralyzed the writer from writing. Consumed by a fear that to think writing is the destiny is arrogant and foolhardy, way beyond the capability.

I’m pretty sure it’s been said here before:

Fear is a poor motivator.

During this period, the sense of needing to know what is the “calling in life” became like a nagging voice over which nothing else could be heard. The brain was filled with confusion and doubt and the white noise of wanting to know with certainty that the life would contain some meaning for someone other than the one living it.

And then an accomplished astrologer was met, serendipitously, who examined what “planetary aspects” might currently be the cause of the extremely heavy inertia experienced.

Yes, an astrologer. [it’s a science, you know]

After some consideration, he stated matter-of-factly, “all of your personal growth results from your love affairs.” Interesting, but not the stuff of destiny, or at least I don’t think so.

He then went on to point out that currently Uranus is squaring Uranus in my birthchart and Saturn is messing with all sorts of planets…big stuff, all related to the need to find the purpose in life. Precisely the preoccupation.

“You need music…in life, you need music to be balanced.” He explained he didn’t mean there was a need to play music, but that music was needed in the surroundings for personal balance. So, in the days that followed music was incorporated into the listening instead of news. It was noticed immediately that the mood improved. The mood enhancement likely also resulted from knowing that the heavy cloud of uncertainty that was weighing on my soul was not imagined but planetarily, astrologically induced.

The astrologer did however finish his reading with one rather heavy cautionary note:

“If you are not currently on the path to realize your destiny or find that path in this period, the rest of your life will lack meaning and be full of emptiness.”

Full of emptiness? Horrible. As was already stated, precisely the preoccupation, that at the end of life it would be seen to have been empty and void of any real meaning. Worse than horrible.

But the contradictory nature of his statement – “full” being the opposite of “empty” – illustrated something Osho delighted in pointing out to his followers:

Life is paradox.

In the days and weeks that followed meeting with the astrologer, a sense was had of turning a corner and the energy spent in finding the purpose in life ratcheted up a notch or two. It was recognized, for the first time without anxiety, that meditation is the only path to the truth that is the purpose of this life. The connection to the open soul induced through the act of meditating creates action with inherent purpose.

The writing begins anew, this time filled with a greater sense of purpose and an awareness of the paradox that is life.

More info on Osho can be found HERE.