Being that it’s Valentine’s Day and all, I came across an article in the Guardian by five experts on the topic of love, well, on love and modern romance. By and large I found the takes to be a bit lame, which is to say that they more-or-less fall back on romantic cliches. The nature of romance and sexuality is changing so fast, culturally, that there’s no need to be trite or traditional. The reality, of course, is that around Valentine’s Day, it’s the articles that reinforce our feel-good biases about romance that get shared around and hence get the most hits and hence generate buzz — and hence generate revenue. Even so, as I scanned through the Guardian article, a few comments caught my eye, comments from a biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher, aka “the love doctor.”
I thought that I knew Fall Creek State Park, the Redwood forest that’s only a stone’s throw from where I live. Yet I recently uncovered a network of undiscovered trails, and so a week ago I went off the beaten path, then wound up off the path altogether. Eventually I came to a residential area and from the looks of things on Google Maps, I realized that I wasn’t far from the town of Ben Lomond, so I hiked down a very long, very unknown road, along the way encountering castles and copulations and, of course, a lot of redwoods.
My connecting flight to Detroit was cancelled due to weather. The friend I was visiting in Michigan was under the weather with a nasty cough. Thus began my trip to visit friends and family in the Midwest, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above-average. Oh, and where winter storms shut down airports and nasty cold and flu viruses circulate like the gentle breezes rolling along the Santa Cruz beaches.
One thing that was unique about my last meditation retreat: I carpooled with three other guys, also fellow meditators. It was unique because we had a chance to chat about the retreat on the way there, and then on the ride back, we debriefed. Even so, conversations don’t always dwell solely on the topic of meditation. I said something about my summer job in McCarthy, and I mentioned my favorite bar in the whole wide world, The Golden Saloon. Suresh, a Bay Area consultant, was sitting beside me. Normally the most reserved in our bunch and the last one to speak, he cut me off and enthusiastically began to extole the virtures of a bar. By his second sentence, he was getting philosophical. Hospitality, he said, is the supreme act of creativity.
The thing about marches and rallies and activism are that they are good for the soul. It’s a form of fellowship, not unlike the feeling I had back in my church-going days. It’s nice to know you’re not alone, in the resistance, and for me nothing replaces the solidarity of in-person activism. And in Santa Cruz on Saturday, it was packed — nearly 20,000 marched, in the main drag, downtown.
It’s usually sometime around December that I begin to feel the first stirrings of cabin fever. This is not the sort of cabin fever by which I am being driven batty by living in a confined space, it’s the kind of cabin fever that comes of wishing that I were in a cabin. It’s the beginnings of the itch to be back in Alaska, where there are real cabins, scattered about in the middle of vast wilderness. Usually when January rolls, I’m getting a little sentimental, because the summer is still a long ways off, and I’m starting to really miss the Great North.