Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Swami in Encinitas

Just back visiting Houston and San Diego.  Took to the skies Wednesday morning (with a two-hour unscheduled delay in Baltimore) and was home three nights later, right on time. Two days into my speed trip through America sitting in a java joint in Encinitas, CA, I discovered I was missing the key stroke between "d" and "g" on my keyboard.  (What the uck!)  To use my computer, I would need to write without using any words that required this particular letter.  That seemed somewhat mystical!  Well, no wonder, I later learned that Encinitas is home to Swami Paramahansa Yogananda.  His Realization Institute and Temple was just down the street!  

Here I was, now, by chance, sitting so close to the actual temple door, that with a simple knock I could realize the answers to all the questions I never asked!  In truth, though, unless the swami could give me a quick or abbreviated answer, say, a simple yes or no, this would have to wait.  I had no time to seek drawn-out universal truths as I had just arrived in San Diego that morning and now was in Encinitas on a power mission to speak to a prospective client and his spouse about their wealth!  

Talking about time, Encinitas appeared to be a laid-back beach community lost in time!  Clearly, we were going to have problems!  Upon arrival, I grabbed a minute and paid homage to the ocean -- that is until I realized just beyond the water breaking against the beach were about 500 people in black body suits sitting on their boards like penguins polluting the view, waiting on "their wave."  Three guys with balding white hair and beer bellies jammed in wet suits walked by me carrying boards down the beach; they looked like they could be my age -- what the uck, don't these people work?  Behind me I realized I was listening in on an old beach dude talking about the USSR.  Hearing slurred Russian history and eyeing old guys waiting on a Tsunami was too much!  Swami!  

I immediately got back on task and met up with my contacts!  We decided to have lunch in a highly-recommended Peruvian hole-in-the-wall on Main Street.  On the menu’s opening page I read the owner had discovered god on a trip to South America and was compelled in tribute to open his restaurant in Encinitas.  I didn't think we were eating anything special but then realized he never mentioned discovering god's recipes, just god -- bummer!  

Later, my couple gave me a once-around tour of Encinitas and the low-down on the original Swami who arrived in town back in the 1930s and now owns millions in land next to the ocean.  My contacts assured me that the word on the beach was that Swami's Cove was the spot where only the most enlightened chose to ride.  

Secretly, I wondered about the connection between the swami, his exclusive cove, the Peruvian owner neglecting to ask god’s about his recipes, and the penguin-like particles of humanity bobbing out on the ocean like plastic ducks in a shooting gallery.  But I said nothing; I needed my contacts to like me.  So I pressed my plea and said goodbye and soon was back on the road in my rental car roaring down to San Diego and an engagement later that evening with another client and his spouse.  

Perhaps it was easy to put Encinitas in my rear view mirror, knowing that when I woke this morning -- just as spaced as ever, totally broke, and more-than-slightly hung over -- I would have the Encinitas swami still to consider.  The thought occurred to me, I should have slipped a note under his door asking him about the universal truths I had just witnessed.  Was it Encinitas that was so enlightened, the bobbers, or me?  I simply couldn’t tell -- though his advice on reawakening my “ucking” key sure would have been appreciated… 


It's cancerous!
Snow-like, drifting through our lives.
Silence, long and sad.
Friends emerging, suffering,
Madness, sweeping through their lives.
It's freezing!  Wake up!
Your touch so cold.

Concert at La Selva

It's five AM, and I am writing from the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica.  I am listening to a howler monkey outside in the forest letting everyone know he is awake and hungry.  His bark is long and low and seems to roll across the forest like a shiver of wind.  But, there is no wind.  It is hot and sticky.  Two-shirt-days, another at night.   The last couple of days I have gotten up early and gone hiking with a guide to see the most spectacular birds (even though, personally, I wouldn't know a bird from a bush).  La Selva is an incredible site, with iguanas in the trees, peccaries eating unafraid less than three paces from my feet, a troop of spider monkeys crossing in the canopy overhead.  A little bit of paradise in a tropical rain forest.  Yesterday, I climbed one of three metal towers recently built out in the forest that allowed me for the first time to emerge above the canopy.  It was beautiful with a sea of tree tops as far as the eye could see and three volcanoes hovering in the heat off in the distance.  I thought of how there was so much to describe, but I was speechless.  Today it's off, once again, as the guide is waiting for me at six.  A pre-breakfast concert of motmots, tanagers, toucans, and hundreds of other brilliant birds before a long journey that returns me to the U.S. by week’s end.  Breathe it, smell it, feel it, bask in it... it will be gone that fast.