From my journal on June 22, 1997:
I remember being in this park when I lived here in the early to mid-1980’s. I came here to read and write and drift. Did I bring my flute here? I think not. But I brought my notebooks. I wrote some of my feelings and some of my dreams – I repressed and shut out so many of them then.
Mainly I isolated here. This was a place to bring a book and escape my stuffy apartment, escape [my first husband] – and escape my life. Then when I had [my son] I’d bring him here. In his stroller, then toddling along. Sometimes I’d sit on the bench looking out at the harbor. But I mainly lied down and read and slept on the grassy slope. I don’t remember much of that time except for my unhappiness – my loneliness.
I brought K. here. I was newly separated and he came over and we went to this park. He was in my life to say this . . . “If someone really likes you, they’ll accept you.” I needed to know that. I needed, desperately, to hear that. It had been so long that I’d felt anything. And I was sure – convinced – that I was too fat and now had horrid striations and marks on my body – so horrid that no one would want me ever again. So his saying that . . . helped me see that the situation was not entirely hopeless. Of course, he proved to be a dog – woof!
But for that time – and in this familiar park, I got a gift.
Here’s the backstory: I lived in the town of San Pedro (part of the City of Los Angeles where the harbor is) during my first marriage; when we divorced, I moved away and then later, bought a townhouse not terribly far from my original apartment. The park I’m talking about in this entry is Averill Park which is a County of LA park, one of the ones most used for weddings because it has many lovely areas and a stunning view of the harbor. It’s heavily sloped in parts and just a wonderful treasure.
So I’m writing this during the second time I lived in San Pedro when I lived there in my townhouse. My son was in elementary and then middle school and in June 1997 we were getting to the point of leaving the area.
It’s funny – today (May 14, 2014) I was writing about my “happy places” those places in my home or outside it where I just can go and in short order, feel better. One of my happy places is my downstairs office which is now my room for doing morning pages and meditating and soon for yoga, too. Of course as I wrote this morning, I’m beginning to think my gym is also a happy place as at least I’m happy once the workout is over! But actually it feels good to use my body more and more. So I think that qualifies as a happy place.
And Averill Park was a definite happy place. I’m not sure my son even remembers going there since he was a baby and toddler when we lived just a couple blocks from it. I think almost every day I walked him around the neighborhood and often we went to the park. Not that it was a great kid park – there weren’t a bunch of jungle gym pieces around or anything, but it did have those great slopes where you could bring something to slide on, and have at it. He did that often, laughing and squealing with delight.
And that gift? Well, as I wrote above, they were the right words at the right time. The guy didn’t prove to be a keeper, but he did say something I sure needed to hear. Often I find we get these little gifts if we’re open to them. It’s like finding a $20 bill on the ground as we’re walking along. Most of us don’t even glance down and we miss the money, but some of us are paying attention . . . and there it is.
And on a parenthetical note, I’ve read articles and studies on luck and being lucky and most say the same thing – the luckiest people are the ones who pay attention. They are the ones who expect to be fortunate, and they often “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” which is a colloquial way of saying, they make the most out of their situation. That’s why they find those $20 bills that are floating around (not that there are a lot of those – but hey, I feel lucky when I find a dollar bill, too.)
I haven’t always paid the attention. I rush here and there like most of us. But sometimes I pause. I look. I attend. And every time, there it is. Something small, something significant (if only to me) – the gift.