Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Whenever I travel inland from San Diego, I look up at the rocks jetting out from the surfaces of the craggy hills and mountains and can't help thinking, “Who in their right mind crossed over these things to start a life out here?”
San Diego sits like the Garden of Eden along the Pacific Ocean but if you are driving in from anywhere east you have to go through desert and rocky cliffs to get here. We have it easy nowadays. We can fly in—it isn’t until the plane is about to land that the city and harbor appear from the dark desert landscape like an oasis. Or we can drive. I remember the home stretch of my road trip out here from Boston—getting lost in the valleys of Temecula, California. I sat in my air-conditioned car, binging on peanut butter crackers and whining about the never-ending bends and turns in the road. The landscape looked like something the Hobbits had to cross over with their precious ring. I thought about the families who came here on foot or in covered wagons. They had no major roads to follow, no mix CDs playing "Love Shack" on repeat, and no Dairy Queens to indulge every quarter mile. I swear that if I were one of them, when my horse pulled up to the bottom of one of those unfriendly looking mountain masses I’d say, “No way, Jose. This is it. I’m planting myself on this dry, flat piece of land and never moving again.” And someone with more optimism would say, “Come on—we don’t even know what’s on the other side.” And I’d say, “You said that about the last 10 mountain tops!” I would probably stay there at the bottom of that cragged mountain and open up the first Dairy Queen…an ambitious goal but not the point—I would have missed everything. Just think how beautiful the vast Pacific Ocean looked when they first saw it: the seaside cliffs, dolphins jumping, seals perched on warm rocks. These things I too would have missed if I didn't, if my family didn't, take a risk and move here.
As terrified as I am of change, I know that a life without change isn't worth living (not to mention it's impossible). As I grow older I know that I’ll come face to face with a lot of ugly looking mountain ranges (figuratively speaking) blocking my way and I’ll be tempted to stop in my tracks and turn briskly back around because it's easier, safer and more practical (all traits a true Libra loves), but my hope is that I will push on—keep exploring, dreaming and taking risks (within reason, of course). Who knows...on the other side of every mountain could be a sparkling ocean...or, at the very least, a Dairy Queen (mmmm).