Archive for March, 2007

 | March 3, 2007 12:14 am

I have begun a six week online travel writing class. It’s partly to get me writing again, and partly because I’m going nuts at work with nothing to do. Work moves on as usual. Enjoying some things; looking forward to leaving others. Actually I am starting to look forward to the time when I’ll be moved out of the apartment, but still around town. I miss the adventure of living in my car. I drove up to the campground I used to stay at. Got in late at night, left fairly early, but it was nice to do it again, even if it did mean sleeping in the fetal position in the back seat of my car. One of these days I’ll get to a campground early enough to set up a tent. Course first I’d have to buy a tent, and since I’ll soon be buying a van I probably won’t bother with a tent.

At any rate, the following is an article I wrote for my travel writing class. Maybe sometime before I leave I’ll have to go back to the campground, get some sound and record this piece as my first podcast.

The only bad thing about the spot is that Highway 1 is less than fifty feet away from the campground. Cars and headlights wiz by while I wrap myself up in the crocheted blanket I keep in the backseat of my car. I have a queen-sized bed in a reasonably nice apartment in Santa Monica, but here I am, ignoring the occasional car along Highway 1 and listening to the sounds of the ocean coming from the other side of the beach campground.

As a campground it’s not much. A small strip of campsites in northern Malibu about 100 feet wide and half a mile long. It’s flanked on one side by Highway 1 and on the other by the ocean. Porta-potties and a dumpster in a little shack every 10 campsites or so. Wire fence separating the highway, and a wide road running the length of the campground for both driving and parallel parking. Then sand, then rocks, then ocean expanding out to the curve of the earth.

One morning while I stayed here I woke up just at the break of dawn to get some of that good photography light as the sun crept up behind the Malibu hills. It wasn’t until that morning I remembered there isn’t much to photograph at this campground.

No, I wasn’t here for the scenery. I drove 30 miles to sleep in the back seat of my car for the sound of the rocks.

The waves crashing incessantly on the beach are soothing in their own way. But as I drift off to sleep what I love to hear are rocks that roll back and forth with the waves. The campground is sand, but the beach itself is made of rocks, different shades of speckled gray and worn smooth from the water. Forward a few feet, back a few feet. They roll against each other over and over in rhythm with the waves. A rumbling thunder that lasts a few seconds, pauses to catch its breath and then repeats.

It makes me feel old and young at the same time. It reminds me of the power of nature. Not always violent or quick like the earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires that are usually nature’s way of getting our attention here in Southern California. It reminds me of the timelessness of nature. These rocks have been rolling back and forth against each other on this beach for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. A few feet forward, a few feet back. The water flows over the rocks slowly eroding and polishing them.

The sound of those rocks rolling back and forth against each other encourages me to buckle down and start being more selfish with my time. Stop spending time with things that I don’t find interesting. When it comes down to it nature doesn’t care how I spend my time. Nature doesn’t even know I exist. Neither do most of the people on the planet. No, I need to be doing whatever I find interesting because ultimately I’m the one who will really care how I spend my time.

Right now I have my heart set on traveling. So as I plan a year long trip around the US I come here to listen to the rocks and remind myself to slow down. Most things don’t matter. The world still turns, the waves still crash, the rocks still rumble. What should matter to me is planning and doing things that I enjoy doing. I vow not to be such a work-a-holic. Not to stress out about my career. And that it’s alright to want to learn Russian and to play the violin without having actually gotten around to starting either one yet. It’s cliché. But the rocks and reminding me that it’s also true.

But I know myself. I will go back into the real world and get sucked back into my daily routine. I will get a call from my boss asking me to fill in for someone and I will take it. I will spend time doing things that I don’t really enjoy and won’t really get me any closer to the trip around the US I’m planning. But coming back here to this campground 20 feet from Highway 1 and listening to those rocks moving in the waves will remind me to live in the moment and keep my mind on what I want to do. In the next few months as I prepare for the big trip I may need the rocks again to remind me.

That’s alright. It’s easy to come back to the sound of the rocks. The campground is right next to Highway 1. Easy access for the next time I need the reminder.

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