If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. (Maya Angelou)
The streets of San Francisco Bay Area seemed eerily quiet and absent of traffic as Ruth and I arrived in nearby San Rafael, California for a three day, road trip visit. Our friend Dan who lives downtown had advised us of severe shutdown issues there prior to our visit so we realized the need to take social distancing measures seriously. As we watched Governor Gavin Newsom read off the latest Corona restrictions on television, we also grasped that live attendance at sporting events, concerts, beaches, movies, plays, and indoor eateries would continue to be off limits for awhile. For “Bay Area” Californians faced the realistic need to continue battling the Corona problem with such austere measures now hoping for its safe resolution in the long run.
Under these present circumstances then, what touristic activities out of the norm in San Francisco made sense for us amid this continuing health crisis? Perhaps a simple city drive or beach view would render a more observant eye for detail. Or as tourist visits to art museums, shopping centers and waterfront activities remained unavailable, money could be saved by seeking out free or inexpensive sources of entertainment. Even a short “dead end” trek to nowhere in particular might spark a fresh taste of fun. So let’s go photographic exploring for two, gorgeously sunny days at this “city by the bay.”
Driving along the steep hills of downtown San Francisco, these normally busy urban corridors were noticeably missing pedestrian and vehicle movement.
So I seemed more aware amid such driving solace of interesting architectural features of surrounding buildings.
We’ve crossed the majestic Golden Gate Bridge by car many times but have rarely taken the time to stop at nearby overlooks for a close up view.
Yet a short walk below the south entrance of this iconic bridge span provided a more intimate look at the this engineering marvel as well as several new vantage points of the San Francisco Bay environs beyond.
A normal day at famed Fisherman’s Wharf would attract throngs of tourists. But business there seemed to be severely hurting because of Covid- 19 on the day of our visit.
Perhaps we could find more excitement at nearby Pier 39. For thirty years, large numbers of harbor seals have congregated along the nearby jetties there. But sadly, the seals are now all gone. So we had to settle for a series of eye catching artpieces symbolizing their enduring presence there.
The Cliff House along a steep promontory of San Francisco Bay normally would provide an ideal patio spot to sit for for a relaxing lunch and enjoy a classic oceanside view.
But today, we would “make due” with a “takeout” clam chowder and venture out to find new “overlooks” of scenic view.
San Francisco’s renowned Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park provided the ideal place to social distance amongst wild nature’s splendor.
Without the crowds often found there, we felt emboldened to aimlessly walk around and make new plant discoveries and forego using a map or GPS for directional guidance.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the Earth.” (Henry David Thoreau)
How much do you already know about Earth Day? Click on the quiz links below to find out.
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day happens this week. Yet I sense there lies a greater challenge in my life this year to feel the natural blessings of our land, air, and water on this global wide holiday. For I remain physically confined in our condominium, feeling sensory starved “cabin fever” now as a result of the Corona pandemic. Clearly, it seems sensible for me as this crisis lingers on to reconsider how Earth Day might assist me to stay healthy. It also seems to be an opportune time for honestly assessing the extent to which my current routines at home truly support Earth Day’s life-sustaining values. For I strive to act mindfully EVERY day now to be in sync with protecting our earth’s living environment.
So in observance of my “Inner Earth Day”, this year, I’ve decided to undertake a “walking archive” of each room in our South Florida condominium to determine how much I commit to the Earth Day initiative. The following question in this effort should immediately arise. To what extent do I “buy in” to the idea of reusing and/or recycling what I consume? What objects in my home motivate me to honor our earth’s livability for the future? Do I understand how to make efficient use of light, water, and power energy? Am I fully aware of how much I waste in what I buy? What changes should I make to our our annual “Spring Cleaning” rituals to make “Earth Day” more meaningful this year?
In the remaining sections of this blog, I thus present ten self -observations compiled from my Earth Day Walking Archive. Hopefully you will find this information useful for dealing with your present Corona pandemic challenges.
MY INNER EARTH DAY RESULTS
1. I’m riding my bicycle more around my neighborhood to simply get out of the house and stay safely distant from others. I observe that by doing so, I am saving energy in energy consumption and becoming more more passionate about preserving the natural beauty that surrounds me.
2. Buying bottled water these day means exposing myself to potential virus concerns in supermarkets. So I’ve started to use a refillable water bottle with filters instead for safety reasons. I also realize that I might remind myself to drink water more efficiently by filling up a measured quantity in my filtered bottle.
3. A “white noise” machine and “plug in” waterfall sculpture not only help me sleep sounder in this time of Corona stress but they also reawaken my outdoor sensory perceptions each night to the relaxing effect of free flowing water.
4. Similarly, I am utilizing my “New Age” nature music collection more as a tranquil background setting when I conduct my yoga practice each day for meditative concentration.
5. We may have to live in a condo cocoon all day now, but at least we are comfortably cool. Yet we normally set our air conditioning thermostat to save energy by not running the system continuously all the time. Similarly, we make ample use of our ceiling fans atop each room to recirculate the blowing air.
6. A few years ago, my wife and I decided to replace our shaggy carpet look around our unit with wood-resembling , laminated floors. I realize this design comes in handy now since we do not wish to drag into our house unhealthy dust, bacteria, and viral material now that typically clings to a carpet laden floor.
7. Eating earth friendly, sustainable products makes life healthier as we transition to more of a vegetarian based diet these days. By going organic, we also seem to be doing our part to help conserve vital meat based products for those Corona victims of need.
8. Our economy is in free fall decline with so many store closures now. Thus, this is not the time to indulge in energy sucking devices like digital TVs, music boxes, and the latest laptop computers we don’t really need now. So I am noticing simpler ways to pass the time now like snuggling up in a homemade blanket with a soothing cuppa coffee while indulging in a favored electronic book now for hours at a time.
9. I surely can appreciate the free oxygen emitted from our indoor plants as I combat the virus hazards of those breathing around me. Nurturing plant life in our home also becomes a pleasant mind diversion in these confusing times now.
10. I would be remiss if I did not mention the Earth Day benefits of wearing my face mask throughout the day in this scary time of Corona. For this is not the time for selfishness , as the risk of airborne spread illness critically threatens the survival of our human species in the future. Stay well.
“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” (Hermann Hesse)
Sanctuary – anywhere a person feels especially safe and serene.
I have no doubts that I have often been motivated in travel situations to find places that directly uplift my spiritual soul. Yet amidst theses current fear mongering times of the Corona pandemic, it seems imperative for me to redirect my wandering spirit to find new sanctuaries of inner peace within the confines of my home. No doubt, the glitzy features of modern electronics might engage my attention as I navigate Zoom, You Tube, and Facebook more. For I definitely value the multi-sensory appeal of these platforms as they add new entertainment options of live virtual concerts, digital learning experiences, and enhanced social media communications. Yet I yearn in this time of interpersonal sacrifice for something more real that I can interact with loving touch at will.
It seems then the best solution to my own current dilemma would be for me to design my own spiritual sanctuary(ies) in the imaginative manner of my childhood. For I was indeed a very curious only-child who frolicked in the enjoyment of free play manner. So I recall my youthful passion for collecting marbles, baseball cards, and seashells and how I arranged them in a visually pleasing way. I reminisce now as well what “turned me on” most when designing those intricate sandcastles along Florida beaches. In addition, when rushing home from school each afternoon to my Northern Ohio basement, how did I usually rearrange the mini-town setting surrounding my Lionel Train rail track. Or on those lonely kid times with only a babysitter present, what designs did I often create when spreading “Lego” and “Lincoln Log” pieces along the living room floor?
No doubt, the magically sensory experience of our recent tour of South India will also play a major role in my latest sanctuary thinking here. For so many sights I photographed there ( eg. see below) appear amazingly sublime. Perhaps then you will join me now to create your own shrine(s) of inner bliss in the face of your current lockdown predicament. Namaste.
While walking from our resort hotel to the serene beach along the Bay of Bengal, I discovered this romantic wedding backdrop of crimson glory.
Beautiful floral designs provided a warm greeting as we entered hotel lobbies throughout our tour.
While along city streets, flower power also resonated as a major symbol of civic pride for promoting a welcoming spirit in tourism
At the Mahatma Gandhi Museum in Madurai, I acquired deep reverence for Gandhi’s resolve to make his simple loincloth clothes from a spinning wheel. Such humility pleads strongly for disdain of materialistic excess and finding inner beauty of the human soul.
Alongside a temple in In Mahabalipuran, an open air” field of sacred sculptures seduced my spiritual attention. I then took a mesmerizing look at local craftsman constructing sandstone Buddhas/ sacred elephant sculptures there.
Along one town street near Kochi, this imaginative setting of garbage composed artwork provided a positive emotional diversion from the surrounding blight of poverty and homelessness despair.
While a colorful object shrine hanging from an aging tree provided a relaxing oasis for me from surrounding urban chaos in front of a local storefront in Madurai.
Graffiti clutter was noticeably absent on this Madurai city wall at the beginning of our tour. Instead, I admired these visually uplifting paintings as a welcoming spirit of the Hindu way
Intricate tower designs of ancient Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu provided spectacular “backdrops” to remind me of the depth of spiritual knowledge we would be gaining on our sixteen day tour.
You might notice that my wife has taken the lead for our home sanctuary effort now full of South India travel inspirations. Certainly this inner shrine will grow in the coming days as I add my own artifacts to this much needed antidote in this uncertain time of Corona confinement.