Feels like I’ve been here before. On the bench at the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco. The difference is I’m not with family — that’s important, as when I am with them I see the environment both through the eyes of one who is with them and also from an imagined traveler’s perspective. The challenge, in returning here, is to be the traveler and not the hurried business luncher. Today I’ve managed to watch, as a childrens’ book narrator watches, myself and my surroundings. Present in the same way I was when visiting my Grandmother in Texas as a child. I have no more grandparents, only this lesson in how to notice the ocean air gently blowing on my face. Gentle as a San Francisco summer afternoon is not always gentle.
Seagulls cry as the ferry line grows. The terminal bridge creaks. Five minutes to departure; I didn’t really see people getting off but some people passed me in that direction. Is the boat already empty? The line moves, fast. Getting shorter, in fact disappearing. The woman at her laptop on the bench already got up and stood in it. At 3:11pm the sound of cars on the Embarcadero suddenly seems louder. A shift. People heading home. And the seagulls. Does anyone recall the moment, in The Lord of the Rings, when Legolas saw his first seagull? Far up the Great river from the Sea. The cry meant Legolas could never again be satisfied with Middle Earth, that he’d have to leave for to the Elvish land across the sea. I notice he did travel around Middle Earth for a while first with his friend Gimli, not to mention finishing the War of the Ring. So, like Buddha he helped out those of us still on earth before he travelled on.
I don’t think I’m Legolas, but I do like to take a photo and color it creatively, make reality just a bit different. Take the horrors of our own underworld and let them blend just a little with the color of the bright San Francisco day. And can I claim to brush in a bit of color from a better place? The intention itself colors all. I know that I can claim only one thing and that is this moment. The price I pay for it already discussed in past musings. Too simple and yet too dear. My life, my time, my soul. The ferry with its seagulls appeals so much that I want to ride it again today. Such a curious experience, before, riding alone, as Bernard Maybeck and Charles Keeler did over 100 years ago, before they met and built their first house together. What if I could live in that same house 121 years later? What if I too could ride the ferry across that same Bay? All I know is being out on the water is magic, much more so than the subterranean ways of BART. The water moves out behind the ferry as it crosses under the Bay Bridge. It moves so enthusiastically, so brightly, as I move upon the same waterways the Spanish sailed half a millennia past, with Inquisitions behind them and hope of something different up ahead. Anything.
And now I sit in a Peruvian restaurant eating food garnished with giant pieces of corn. I think they call it something else… On the water. I see the Sausalito ferry depart. The fog given way to summer sun and a stiff breeze. A guy at the next table talks knowledgeably to a group of listeners about “disruptive” forces. How much of his talk of disruption is purely his hope that his company can come into power? He’s paying for this entire table of people who look spacey. They’re on their break, right? Eating at the Peruvian grilled meats restaurant. Two admin people just jumped up and said they have to get back to work. Now the guy is talking about how Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had beliefs that were stupid. I’d actually like to hear what he was trying to say using those saw horses as examples. An Indian looking guy with a Texas accent. Too nice. Yet kudos to him for taking charge of all this. I’ve been debating whether to use his company’s name here. My decision is made by the fact that I can’t remember it. Touch-something. “You guys don’t have to wait (get back to work).” That’s right, Mr. Touch, better use all your niceness and your charm and your whip and your luck. Then maybe you can be a disruptive force and maybe you can benefit from that disruption. What I hope for you is that you enjoy the process. Anyone who has come across the sea to this place in the past half-millennia had better enjoy the process. There’s no going back.