Saturday, July 30, 2022

California Dreaming

An unexpected epiphany in a California supermarket.

When my daughter was three years old, we moved from New York City to Southern California, starting first with Huntington Beach. This was my eight month on-ramp lane leading to the 405, preparing me for the move to Los Angeles and enrolling in U.C.L.A. film school.

But we did stay in Huntington Beach long enough for my young daughter to become a beach baby--develop a tan and learn the words Boogie Board. Yes, "Boogie Board! Boogie Board!" she would point and shout at me. Me--her black beret and turtle-neck wearing-beatnik-wanna-be mother. 

Huntington Beach was like that for me. I was out of step from the very beginning. I burn easily and avoid the sun.  I've never been crazy about pastels. I just didn't understand the culture. I was confused and always one step behind.  I couldn't get used to thinking that heading East meant going inland. To me, raised in Connecticut, if you headed East, you headed right into the ocean and not the other way around. This felt like upside down world. A world in which I was always in danger of falling off the edge.

I cried a lot in Huntington Beach. I cried in the Vons Supermarket, standing in the gigantic produce aisle, dumbfounded by the vast selection, staring at endless array of lettuce. So many varieties! Which one did I want? I couldn't decide.

I was used to the cramped Gristedes in New York City and The Pioneer (which was so crowded the joke name was "Pie in your Ear.")  But this endless array was something new. I stopped and stared at the red leaf lettuce just as an automatic system sprayed water on the lettuces. The droplets on the curled leaves hung there, glittering like diamonds. It was so pretty.

I began to cry. I mean, really cry. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and fragility of the world and the fact that no matter where I went, I would never truly belong. The fact that Huntington Beach was a metaphor for being human and just a visitor in this place called Planet Earth.

Since this moment, I've also come to believe that epiphanies can arrive from the most unexpected places--not necessarily from standing on the tallest mountaintop or staring at a magnificent sunset over Lake Cuomo, but rather, they can sneak up on us when we are doing something ordinary, simple and in my case, a little funny. 

Creative friends, your assignment for this week is to approach your day and look for the unexpected epiphany. Pay attention to the subtle clues that you are being given, an invitation to enter into a new state of awareness. It might feel like a little tap on your shoulder, or even an itchiness at the top of scalp. It might feel like a breath--a whisper in your ear. Ask yourself what brought you to this moment and whatever that thing is, embrace it, honor it and listen to its message.

Now, go and make art. And, as always, have fun.




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