Posts Tagged ‘neighborhood’

It was a dark and stormy night

April 11, 2010

Standard wisdom for writers is that cliches are always bad. But I’m not so sure. If a cliche revs you up enough to start typing words on a blank screen, is that really a bad thing? I’m in favor of whatever primes the pump. Oops. Cliche. Seriously, it is a dark and stormy night in my adopted city, Oakland, and we chai-latte-sipping-sunshine-loving Northern Californians are outraged by our fickle spring weather. It has dropped below 68 degrees and that is just not supposed to happen in April. The wind is lashing the Mexican weeping bamboo on my deck, and thunderstorms are forecast. Pity the poor hummingbirds who can’t even make it to the feeder yet manage to survive the elements that send we humans cowering in abject terror to our netflix mumbling the Serenity Prayer.

Hey, nothing against netflix. Or the Serenity Prayer. Both are useful – the former for distraction, the latter to bring us face to face with the reality that we control so very little. Except for how we respond to the avalanche of stimuli bearing down upon us. And by those responses we build our worlds – hell or heaven at the flick of a neuron. “The courage to change the things I can…” It takes many hours on my meditation cushion to observe the cacaphony of my inner life. Maybe courage is built that way too, one breath at a time.

Bounded by Lakeshore, Grand, and Mandana Avenues, the neighborhood where I live is known as Grand-Lake. I am a five-minute walk from Lake Merritt, Arizmendi Pizza, Peet’s and Trader Joe’s. From my deck I can see the Oakland Hills dotted with red tile roofs and palm trees interspersed with redwoods. Just below my street is an extension of Lakeshore Avenue with a small park where little kids jump, dig in the sand, and grab toys away from each other. It’s reassuring to hear their hoots and hollers and yelps, background music while I do the dishes or check my e-mail. Life is going on out there, I think, and like my old cat who loves to sit on the deck and watch the world, I am an observer of life. It washes up against me from the vantage point of the hill where I look out, as if from a tree house.

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