Thirty Four

A Year of Yoga: February 3, 2014

Pose: Bound Reverse Warrior

Location: Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve. I came here once about 5 years ago with my environmental science class and remembered it being a cool spot. So I decided to drive out here today. It is one of the few preserved wetlands in Southern California and home to a diverse bird population (although today I only saw seagulls, ducks, and one brown pelican). The brief history written on the tourist information board explained that when the Southern California coast was being developed, this piece of land was preserved through the grass roots efforts of the community. You can read more about it here. I had an interesting experience hanging out here today; one that made me feel reflective. After I had finished snapping a few photos and was starting to head back to the parking lot, an older gentleman (bird-watching type) started walking with me and asked me jokingly if I was a movie star….since he had seen me taking yoga selfies. So I kind of laughed and said…”it’s kind of weird but I take photos of myself doing different yoga poses in different places and I blog about it”. He laughed too and seemed like he couldn’t possibly understand why someone would do such a thing (believe I’m still asking myself that question), but all he said was “you gotta do stuff like that while you’re still young”. I also laughed and said I knew what he meant because I’m pushing 40. He looked at me, shocked, and asked me how old I am. I told him, 36. He just made my day and said he thought I was 25. He said I must exercise to still look so young. I shared with him that many of my family members have struggled with health problems or died too young as a result of not taking care of themselves and that I try to take care of my health. He said he wished he’d made better decisions as a younger man. I pointed out that he was out in the beautiful morning getting a walk and enjoying something he loved and that was a healthy act. His final thought as we approached the parking lot was that “the best things in life are free”. A bit cliche, I know, but I just had to agree. Standing out in the amazing weather of So Cal in a beautiful spot of nature preserved by grass roots efforts….the mini-mansions planned for this piece of coast and only affordable to the elite, could never come close to being as good as what is there now for the enjoyment of anyone at no cost.

This whole encounter also made me reflect about how in past seasons of my life I would have walked right past this man even if he attempted to talk with me. I tried to pinpoint what emotion I might have felt as I brushed past people who were clearly just being friendly or maybe needed a smile or human connection. I think it was fear and self-doubt that made me more closed off in the past (and still creeps back from time to time). Maybe fear of being made uncomfortable or humiliated in someway (like an old man asking if you’re a movie star). Maybe self-doubt that I was worth a stranger’s time. I don’t know…just thoughts. So I am glad today for an open mind that led to an unexpected and pleasant walk in a beautiful place with a sweet, older, bird-watcher.

Photography Credit: me (iPhone5 & gorilla pod)

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