Monday, December 14, 2009

Yes Santa there is no snow

Every-time I even think about southern California I get a feeling of crushing loneliness.

I don't have a good reason for this. 

My memories of the place are filled with all night conversations
and coffee jitters till dawn. 
Of uncompromising love
and a strange season-less beauty. 
Of salt and sand and sunburns and scents.

When I landed for my week here it was raining.  The 405 and 101 were moving at about 15MPH and the trip to Oxnard took hours.  The world beyond my tunnel of vision and the taillights of the car in front of me was gone.  I was alone, surrounded by people in cars.  What better way to re-connect with the feelings of alone and unwanted and unloved and other un-ness.  It is easy to hate LA and its environs.  It gives a name and substance to the source of my feelings, however inaccurate the identification is. 

One thing about knowing the plans for the future is that I can make coincidental plans.  This time in soCal I was going to make things different.  This time I had a plan. 

Like many of my plans most of it fell through.  First I tried to contact old frineds from LB but those I could find had moved and others I could not find or could not meet me half way (it is a really long way from south Orange County to Ventura).  I also tried contacting a couple of friends who had moved to LA.  Of course contacting people you have not spoken to in 20+ years is more of an affront than a pleasant surprise. 

The next phase was to convert the landscape into a more personal terrain.  If you have ever driven in LA you know that the world changes when you leave the freeways.  Locally they call the non-freeway streets "surface streets" as if you are coming in from an extra-planetary orbit when you exit onto them.    My plan was not to just leave the freeways and tool around on planet LA but to come into intimate contact with the planet's surface.  I was going to do this by running, specifically a race, along the streets of an unfamiliar city. 

The race that co-incided with my schedule was the "Santa to the Sea" half marathon. 

To me, as an atheist, there is something intriguingly sublime about the Santa concept.  The concept is steeped in the terminology of belief.  People even sport "I believe" buttons at this time of year.  There are long-winded stories and movies and songs about believing in Santa.  But even the people who most fervently identify with the believe in Santa verbiage in no way actually believe in Santa.  I think this is cool.  I also think it is a subtle way that society exposes how people can express belief in something like a theist god without believing at all.

At the last minute I reconsidered running in the VFF and used my "regular" shoes.  The race went very well.  I finished in the top 90% and ran a PR.  This 68 year old man with a T-shirt that said "100 marathon club" passed me in the last mile.  I would STRONGLY recommend taking up running if you do not now, especially if you are significantly slower than I am.

The ultimate purpose, that of emotional grounding, was exceptionally well achieved.  There are elements of being human that can be manipulated to make life more enjoyable.  I have often looked at things and asked myself "what is really going on here (WIRGOH pronounced and sometimes spelled WeirGo or WierdGo)"?  Luckily I have not succumb to the engineering disease, but I do bear scars from it.

In the past few years I have more aggressively applied the WierdGo principal to life.  Many times this principle works better for life issues than for things.


Anonymous said...

Did you see Julia Roberts? She ran this race with you.

adult onset atheist said...

I did not see her, but I did apparently smoke her. She finished in 2:29:47 making her one of the few valuable individuals who were actually slower than I was. Keep it up Julia!