Jonny Approved: Those Little Jaunts
Vacations have been a rarity for me lately. Folks will comment that my new freelance life seems to give me a freedom to “go places,” but a lot of that coming and going involves family, odd jobs, or a little day hike around the area. Sure, those jaunts lead me to places I love and enjoy, but they aren’t always the chillaxing experience I think of when I imagine vacay. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a trip out west to visit friends (and also to run into friends I hadn’t seen in some time). I’ve always listed San Francisco as one of my all time faves, but I’ve never taken the chance to get out of the city. This time, I did. And it might have been the most wonderful walk of my life.
I’m a planner and sometimes planning is necessary to fully enjoy an experience. Figuring out public transportation takes time, and when the scheduling doesn’t work with your plans, you have to find alternatives. Finding another mode of transportation takes a bit of effort, especially if you don’t take a traditional mode. And apparently in some cases, you have to plan ahead to book a parking place prior to your arrival at a location. All of these factors were in full effect as I figured out how to get out to the Muir Woods. Thankfully, my Type-A planning mode was in overtime and I seamlessly arrived to pay my entry fee around noon to experience the woods.
As you can imagine from the necessity of booking a parking space, Muir Woods is popular. The main portion of the woods is jammed with an eclectic group of folks, both young and old. I often find myself annoyed by clueless tourists and their noisy children, but I gently remind myself that it is wonderful to see children experiencing the beauty of nature. I found myself laughing along as children took hilarious pictures next to the massive trees in the forest. My parents were always good at taking my brother and I out to state parks. I find that only now do I fully appreciate those adventures. Taking a side trail, I slowly moved away from the hustle and bustle. Occasionally I’d glide by patches of older hikers experiencing nature with childlike awe.
Awe and wonder. That’s the spiritual power of the Muir Woods. As I drifted down the trail, I kept stopping to gaze in amazement. There came a point when I found myself alone on the trail with the sweet solace of the trees moving with the wind and occasional birds giving commentary. I’ve been out in Mother Nature quite a bit over the last few years, but as a tear formed in my eye, I revelled in a new understanding of what the word “majesty” means. “Majesty” isn’t one of those words we throw around in the daily vernacular, most likely because it carries so much mystical weight. In such an awe-inspiring moment, standing amongst such spectacular sights, it seemed to be the best word to describe the experience. And yes, the old Sandi Patti song started running through my head. “Oh Lord, Oh Lord, How Majestic is Thy Name in All the Earth.” Funny when those sounds of a past life invade your “new, better self.” Glimpses of the past, the present, the future. The majesty of nature surely brings perspective, usually a perspective we never can predict. The best journeys humble us, reminding us that every step has value and there are still so many steps to go.
Read: Sometimes an Op Ed really slays me. The NYT served it to me here:
Posts have been popping up the last few weeks about how young many of our Founding Fathers were when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. And Jesus and his Disciples were all young men when they totally questioned the establishment and created one of the most powerful spiritual movements in the history of humankind. Youth has its drawbacks, but sometimes, the ability to cut through the bullshit and get to the heart of the matter is the key to unlocking truth. I can only hope as I get old and grey that I can keep a listening ear, an open mind, and an open heart and be humble enough to understand the simple truths behind the challenges facing the world.
Listen: The Cusp Podcast. Ok, this is actually a plug for a friend of a friend who I wish I was closer to but he lives in DC and we’ve never had a chance to really hang out. But, Ash Kosiewicz is one of the most loving and soulful people I’ve ever met, and his new podcast is brilliant listening. Ash’s podcast is all about transitions, and in his words, zeros in on the time “when everything seems possible, nothing is a foregone conclusion, and something important feels at stake.” He follows several folks as they go through their personal life changes and discoveries as they set off on new ventures and decisions. This podcast is going challenge and reward you.
Watch: Call Me By Your Name. Ok, let me confess something . . . I didn’t really love the film. I had read the book last year and was pretty ho-hum about it. The book seemed to be yearning to be made into a movie, and the movie worked much better for me than the book. The film is beautifully shot and there is fine visual artistry, but I struggle with the romantic chemistry of the two main actors and it still blows my mind that a 17-year-old seems to be endlessly talented, has countless hours to explore all his interests, and yet never seems to have trouble jumping out of bed to meet the day. Perhaps there is a teenager in the world with the discipline, drive and brilliance of Elio, but I’m a bit skeptical.
Nevertheless, it is the performance of Timothee Chalamet as Elio that makes the movie. The physicality of his performance never ceased to make me smile. He seems to fully understand and capture those moments of unbridled abandon that teenagers have when they don’t think they are being watched. Funny patterns of gait, a few twirls and spins, almost like walking from spot to spot is a dance. In those moments, Elio is without fear of being judged, which matches perfectly with his cautious and apprehensive manner when around his crush. It’s the range of youthful passion at its finest, and Chalamet perfectly balances his performance. And that work pays off in the last three scenes of the film . . . the car ride home with his mother, the chat with his father, and his moment at the fireplace. I dare not say much more because I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, but by the time I reached those scenes, I was emotionally invested in Elio and Chalamet’s performance was enhanced by emotion-filled scenes, including the final shot that is one of the finest moments I’ve ever seen on film. It didn’t win Best Picture and it shouldn’t have. And I can’t say Chalamet deserved Best Actor over Gary Oldman because I didn’t see The Darkest Hour. But, not seeing Chalamet in “Call Me By Your Name” would be depriving yourself of a tour de force by the young actor who is surely at the beginning of a great career.
Speaking of Old Songs: Lately, a song from early childhood keeps popping in my head. “Fire in the Gym” is from the ill-advised, how-did-it-get-four-seasons-it-was-so-bad sitcom sequel series, “The New Leave it to Beaver.” We used to watch the show on the Disney Channel and I believe we gave up on it about a year or two in because it was so awful. Even as we moved back to watching the original Beav on Nick at Night, the song has remained in my head. I found it on Youtube last night, and you can view it here:
Sadly, this clip doesn’t include the full brilliance of the 80s hit, but you get the idea. This song continues to curse me, perhaps because it was the only 80s song I heard that wasn’t on a Sandi Patty album until the early 90s. Oh the shelter, it was strong.