I walked to the church around the corner from my house to vote last Tuesday.
Greeted by a helpful elderly lady, I received my ballot from other similarly good-humored neighbors and walked over to a private booth where I took all the time I needed and cast my vote with my best intentions.
I had a recurring dream as a child that still haunts me today.
A frail but radiant flower grows out of a patch of tar amid a barren and blackened landscape. The thunderous, frightening sound of a machine much larger than me smashes down to the ground, shaking everything around it, threatening and taunting me, growing ever louder.
The car is packed and I can barely see the road behind me. A wall of pillows separates the kids, fortuitously precluding their ability to intentionally annoy each other. They look out at the sea of forest and mountains and bob their heads to dubstep while periodically asking us random questions about the world including, of course, whether we “are there yet.”
We arrive at a dusty opening in the woods and look around at the blank slate upon which we will create our home for the next two nights.
It is that time of year again.
The time of year when the air starts to cool and is filled with the invigorating smells of promise and possibility.
When world-class athletes across the nation prepare their sculpted bodies for violent battle on the field and the rest of us prepare our pudgy asses to sit on couches, eat junk food and yell at the television while ignoring our families and compulsively watching statistics update in real time on our laptops.
I often lament that so many moments of profound beauty go unnoticed during the course of an average day with my kids. That everyday I perform small miracles that nobody sees. The conversations we have, the projects we complete, the places we discover, the meals we create, the games that we play and the intention and effort that drive it all flashes each day with unheralded brilliance.
I sat down the other day to write about the disturbing amount of gun violence plaguing our country when I found out that the featured artist in this month’s Art Walk reception at our local library is Jesse Michaels, former singer and songwriter of Operation Ivy.
Currently a painter out of Oakland, Jesse Michaels and his seminal band have been an inspiration to me for over twenty years.
Summer has arrived in the Bay Area, dazzling and puzzling us with the spectacular yet unpredictable symbiosis of sunshine and fog. On the day of the solstice, I joined throngs of like-minded revelers at Stinson Beach, soaking in 84 degrees of unfettered sun. Two days later, I awoke immersed in a cloud of thick mist.
During a Bay Area summer, you never know what you are going to get on a day at the coast.
I am speaking into a microphone on the dock of a small pond in my hometown of Litchfield Park, Arizona.
When I first moved here in 1985, it was a lone oasis of pools and palms amid an expanse of dry and dusty desert. An oasis it remains, though today it glimmers amid strip malls, chain restaurants and cookie-cutter homes.
It is a town that smells of orange blossoms, chlorine and fresh cut grass.
While eating dinner, my four-year-old son asks me why forks don’t have faces.
“Why do you think you have a face?” I ask him.
“So that I can see,” he replies. “And so I can smell and taste,” he excitedly adds. “And I have hair to protect my head so, um, the sun won’t burn it.”
“But why do you think your mouth is below your nose and your nose is below your eyes and your eyes are below you hair?
I take the kids to the San Francisco Symphony on a field trip with their preschool on a foggy Wednesday morning.
Driving to and through the city during rush hour is not fun. Then waiting for over an hour, compressed into a small enclave off the sidewalk, with about thirty 2–4 year olds acting their age, well this is pretty maddening.
Winding down the headlands of Marin, the city’s jagged skyline dominates the horizon, crowning a sparkling expanse of water.
“Is dat Sawancisco Dada?”
“Yeah Sasha, that’s San Francisco.”
We are at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. The iconic span looms above, stretching boldly across the choppy strait.
I love you Oakland, but I’m leaving you.
I am your strongest advocate, your most ardent defender. I show off your Michelin-starred restaurants, artisan beer bars and stunning historical theaters. I take visitors to your fragrant forests and canyons, sunny ridges with jaw-dropping views, tree-lined streets of Craftsman homes and double-wide strollers.
This is not a comparison between a seminal punk band from southern California and electronic dance music.
This is an argument that the search for truth requires only that we open our eyes and pay attention to everything that is happening right now. It is an argument against substituting knowledge with belief. It is an argument in favor of celebrating our inability to know.
My grandmother woke up every morning before sunrise to sit in her bed and recite mantras while methodically counting them with her sandalwood beads.
I was amazed at her dedication and discipline.
The only reason I was up that early was to watch The Smurfs. She was seeking enlightenment.
One of the most important things we can do for our children is to immerse them in the quiet and unspoiled beauty of the natural world.
The world we normally occupy is cluttered with schedules, tasks, worries and duties. It is polluted by noise, diluted with distractions and shrouded by psychological preoccupations. The world of nature simply is.
I know they are already awake but I lay in bed desperately grasping for just a few more moments of peace.
My three-year-old son sharply barks my name from across the house. It is obvious from his tone that he is eager to make a demand of me. I quietly listen for sounds of distress or increased agitation. Hearing nothing, I roll over, draw the covers over my face and sink into slumber.