Inspired by Life

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Looking forward...

The purring of my computer coupled with the slow whirring of the blades of the ceiling fan hanging in my room are a surefire way to induce sleep. I sit among cardboard boxes, looking around at the upheaval in my living quarters, noting that moving is painful. Not in the emotional sense alone, but also in the physical sense as well - just really painful after bending over to fill up boxes, lifting, pushing, moving, taping, packing some more - very physically demanding and makes one appreciate the homeless, for having all their belongings in one shopping cart.

Speaking of homeless, I will be joining the nomadic masses of gypsies for the next six weeks, as we trek over the west and mid-west of this vast country. Okay, I take back trek, but travel. This vagabond life we are about to take in the near future has instigated the need to pack and store all of our belongings ( half of which I have managed to get rid of), and make this trip the summer of a lifetime.

My bookshelves stood tall and empty as the treasures they used to hold were categorically taken out and boxed up. And now even my bookshelves are stored away in a dark room, waiting for the day when they can once more breathe in some fresh air and have all their treasures returned to their rightful places. My love affair with books far exceeds any other crush or infatuation I have ever had. If I owned a plot of land with a big, beautiful tree, its branches reaching out to the sun, inviting kids to climb up, settle in and read, I would ask to be buried under this tree with all my books. But that just seems too selfish and others will not be able to enjoy and appreciate the books that I have read, so I most likely will donate mine to my posterity.

The table on which my laptop sits right now is cluttered - glass of water, a covered china serving dish, a bottle of supplements, Ziploc bags, books of course, a hat, an empty water bottle, etc. Reminders that my work is not done. Sorting out this clutter tomorrow is something I can put in the back of my mind for now.

On this warm, Indian summer day, I feel a nervous excitement - wondering what the next six weeks holds for us. I look forward to reuniting with dearest friends who hold pieces of my heart. I love that that extends to their children as well - I feel and connect to my friends' children as closely as I connect with my friends - on a different level. I am looking forward to these moments of life where I realize that this is what living is all about - the complete adoration of an innocent child, the warm hug from little, chubby arms wrapped so tight around you to render you nearly breathless, the sweet, tight kiss you receive the minute you walk into the room.

I look forward to connecting with Nature - there is nothing like the beauty and power of nature that transcends all earthly distractions and take me close to the celestial dwellings of my Maker. As the innermost, dark, cobweb-filled recesses of my soul come out shyly at first and gaining speed, they step out to soak in the Sun and all of Nature's glory. I look forward to retaining that memory for a long time to come.

I look forward to family - the joy of reuniting and the joy of creating a new family as a brother gets married, and another is about to dedicate two years of his life to serving the Lord. I look forward to the special love I feel when I see the family that had led me to my husband. I share a unique bond with each child in this family and I look forward with joy and anticipation to solidify those bonds again.

I look forward to new horizons - where I explore my surroundings and take in all the beauty around me, the history of the church, the story of the pioneers now made real, the feeling of the faith of a people that led to a worldwide movement, sweeping the nations, nothing withstanding.

I look forward to discovery, nature, family, new horizons and promises of a grand future, filled with opportunity and blissful meanderings to find life and its meanings and how they apply to me in this day.

I am grateful for all that my life has been up to this point and I am so grateful for the ability to look forward - with faith, with hope and with a complete assurance of new experiences.

I love looking forward.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

San Francisco 49 Mile Scenic Drive

After spending a very lethargic morning, trying to figure out what we should do for Memorial Day, we embarked on what turned out to be a pretty cool experience - The San Francisco 49 Mile Scenic Drive. If you have never done this before and you live in San Francisco, you should - it is well worth the effort.

The weather in our neck of woods was very moody and kept changing its mind - cloudy or sunny. Finally, we decided to layer up and get on the road at around 3PM. The weather was great and the highways were traffic-free! Ah, how I love staying in town when everyone else is gone!

The 49 Mile drive was created in 1938 by the Downtown Association to highlight the city's beauty and to promote it as a tourist destination. It was also created as a way for tourists to see The City while they were here for the Golden gate International Exposition in 1939-1940.

This drive was a "memorable one" on Memorial Day. As we drove along, the fog enveloped the city, as is classic San Francisco, and gave it a sort of ethereal feel to the whole drive. Since we were driving, we did not stop at every highlight along the way, so I am going to mix in some stock pictures as well as my own for your enjoyment of the Drive.  Some of the highlights of this trip for us were The Palace of Fine Arts, Presidio and my favorite part of this trip was The San Francisco National Cemetery. We also stopped at the California Legion of Honor building.

The sun was shining, but it was nippy as usual in The City. We drove right through the heart of SFO and fell in love with all that we saw along the way - the throngs of people, the shops, the vendors, the sights of history mixed in with modern, the slopes of the streets, the cable cars, the Muni, the tourists taking pictures of everything they laid eyes on, the open double decker bus filled with tourists & visitors, each little town bustling with its own energy - Japantown, Chinatown, North Beach - Italian, the Exploratorium, Fisherman's Wharf, The Boudin Bread Factory with its usual bevy of spectators outside the huge wall of glass, while they watch the bakers knead and mould the bread into very creative shapes for the amusement of the watchers.

The lines of people waiting to see the Cable Cars turn and to get a ride through the city on one; restaurants filled with people and children, out for a day of fun. The Palace of Fine Arts was filled with an eclectic mix of people and children. In ten minutes, I heard Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, Chinese, Russian, & English. Couples taking pictures of themselves against the backdrop of the Palace, children climbing the best tree in the garden - this is the perfect tree to lounge and read a book in! People sitting on the benches, soaking up the sun; brides and grooms getting their pictures taken on the green, their white, flowing dresses making them look like fairies fluttering around, while the ever-attentive groom looks more like a penguin; a handicapped artist sitting under the shade of an overhanging tree, sketching the dome of the Palace with charcoal; kids taking pics of each other climbing the trees, people walking dogs, and other photo enthusiasts like moi, clicking away - just happy to be part of the shutterbug community :)

The Marina Green, a waterfront park was another fun place to visit. Although it was cold and windy, there were joggers out there braving it, families with kids in strollers walking along the path. As I sat in my car, waiting for Aaron, I heard these clinking sounds. I rolled down my window trying to decipher the source of this - I saw children playing with their dogs in the water, couples sitting on the rocks on the beach, sea gulls who were totally unafraid of the humans, and being quite large in size, they were intimidating, almost :) I still could not figure out where the sound was coming from, until in one quiet moment, when the sea gulls had stopped screeching for a second, I realized that the boats in the marina, were swaying in the wind and clinking against the docks they were tied to - they sounded like erratic wind chimes, maybe even a bit possessed by the wind. It was a very unique auditory experience - one that I will not forget.



The most solemn and hauntingly beautiful part of our trip was The San Francisco National Cemetery - where those who were veterans were buried. It is located at the edge of the Presidio, and we nearly missed it in our eagerness to continue on our Scenic Drive. We drove a few steps past a long line of large US Flags, and knew we had to go in. It was calling to us and we could not ignore the feeling.

We drove into the cemetery, amidst two lines of flags, flanking the sidewalks, fluttering in the wind, almost in unison, and everything was eerily quiet. The view in front of was was breath-taking, in the literal sense of the word. Rows upon rows of white headstones, each one adorned with a small flag, combing the sides of the hill, as far as the eye can see. On the outskirts of the cemetery stood these towering, beautiful trees, black against the fading sun and the fog that drifted in and out of its branches. And all the world was silent. I was lost in another world - just me and my camera, my mind's eye, striving hard to retain the visual memories, the emotion these woods evoke, the woods in which these headstones were set.

In the gray evening of the fog, the lush, well-manicured green grass is a stark contrast to the white headstones that stand erect, giving one a glimpse of the straight backs and heads held high - the soldiers who fought in the numerous wars and gave their lives for this country - be it in defense or in ally. A lone veteran pays homage to his fellow comrades, and this brings tears to my eyes. I am overwhelmed with emotion inside, surrounded by the white headstones that are a symbol of the memory that their country has for them, and the flags honoring them each year and remembering their sacrifice for the land that they love.

Walking amongst them, soft footsteps on the deep grass, reading each name, with the cold air, the gray fog floating in lower than the trees, the flags fluttering in the relentless wind, I am grateful for this experience. A memory that is lodged in my mind forever, not one to be easily forgotten. I will always remember.

We then stopped at the Legion of Honor, amazed by its magnitude and the fact that it was completely void of any other human presence - a chance of a lifetime to get pictures of this place with nothing but its majestic beauty. There were statues erected - Joan of Arc and El Cid Campeador, each with a story accompanying their presence. As we resumed our journey, the fog really rolled in, and we knew that it would be the end of our scenic drive, as the scene was swallowed up in huge clouds of fog.

Driving past Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks, Lake Merced - we vowed to come back and finish the other half of our Scenic Drive. We stumbled upon a cute little Thai restaurant in the Sunset District of SFO, ate a scrumptious yet affordable meal, and with full stomachs, returned home.

Our Memorial Day was certainly a memorable one!