It’s only been a couple of days since my departure from San Diego, yet it feels like a lifetime. I left early on a Monday morning; packing my last few boxes in an already stuffed car and opening every drawer and cupboard carefully searching for any small object. One I excel at is leaving behind one item everywhere I’ve been. I tend to think of this action as leaving behind evidence for the next person to find or a part of me that can stay, even if I want to leave. While I’m sure my long lost items are tossed, it’s nice to think otherwise. Our attachments to items fascinates me because it seems as though we cease to exist without any trace of them.
As my mom and I drive on the freeway, the landscape seems to change almost dramatically. I look out the window as the dry and empty desert appears in my view. Without an open window I already know it’s much hotter. We pass small towns with billboards for Disneyland, Dodger stadium, and various Las Vegas shows and strip clubs. Every once in a while a seemingly empty town comes into view with abandoned buildings, worn billboards, and rusted dilapidated cars. I’ve felt like these barren ghost towns with stores that once buzzed alive with customers and homes that had the energy of lively inhabitants. When I’ve given up hope and everything feels lost, I am an abandoned town with boarded up walls, hoping for and remembering times when I was brought to life.
If there’s anything I’ve learned during my stay in San Diego, it’s that hope is not lost. No matter how desolate or frustrating life can be an answer is on the other side. Life is always full of questions and constantly searching for the answers usually exhausts me, but having spent time somewhere new with new people is making me see that pursuing the answer is one of the great parts of the journey. It seems that most of the time we are preoccupied with achieving a specific result and we want to finish the race before we begin. I’ve always strove to be good at something, even if it’s my first attempt. However, I’m beginning to realize if I don’t take the time to stop and really enjoy the moment, I miss what’s truly important. With every visit to a museum, hiking trail, or beach, I set down my camera, closed my journal, and took in the moment. Learning to exist and not always “do” made my observations clearer and put everything at ease.
Constantly I wonder, “Is this where I want to be and what I want to do? What next?” However, taking the time to drift while looking at the ocean from Kate O. Sessions Park or standing still while paddleboarding in Mission Bay gave me my answer: “I’m doing this, here and now.” I was eager to experience as much as I could and had no desire to return to real life. I began to dread thinking about my next move and responsibilities, until I realized this mentality doesn’t have to end. Looking atop a trail at Mission Trails Regional Park, I began to understand that I could stop and turn around and give up looking for adventure, or I could keep going and moving ahead, always treating every climb, valley, and decline as an adventure.
This sense of creating excitement in everything I do is my new aim. While I can focus on my frustrations and wish I was on a grand adventure, I’m doing my best to realize I’m already on one. Too often I can talk myself out of attempting something or back out because of fear, but the interesting thing about fear is that it can motivate you to seek what you want. On one of my first hikes to San Clemente Canyon, I was intimidated by warnings of rattlesnakes and I promptly turned around when I heard rustling and rattling in the grass. As I continued hiking I found that rattlesnakes could be anywhere, and I could turn around or face my fears and trust my instincts if I ever get into trouble. If I chose to back out I might miss out on something incredibly beautiful.
So, as life throws me a curveball, I can take the chance of striking out or hitting a homerun, but if I don’t swing for at least one pitch, I’ll never know. It’s hard for someone like me who’s a perfectionist to just go for it, but if I hadn’t sent my resume via e-mail to the Old Globe Theatre, I wouldn’t have had the great experience I enjoyed this summer. All good things come to and end, so I do my best to savor every second and forge ahead to experience more good things. As I watch seagulls jump from the Coronado beach and soar towards the sky, I think of lines from Coldplay’s “Up With the Birds”: “A simple plot but I know one thing, Good things are comin’ our way…” So, until we meet again San Diego, as Ron Burgundy says, “You stay classy, San Diego.”