The Pacific Ocean, and it’s miles of beaches, is the biggest attraction of all the attractions in Southern California. Best of all, the beach is FREE! Of course, depending on your mode of transportation to get there, you may have to pay for parking, or for a bus ride, but the beach itself is free, and always will be.
So, that gets me wondering about all the poor and homeless people in this part of the country. You just don’t see poor folks taking advantage of this awesome recreational offering very often. Sure, playing in the surf is fun, and so is throwing around a football in the sand. But even better, just staring out at the seemingly infinite horizon of the ocean, listening to the sound of the waves breaking onto the shore, and the occasional cry of a sea gull, is one of the most tranquil experiences that nature has to offer.
The poor, for the most part, are an unhappy bunch, often complaining, always worrying. They squabble amongst themselves over the most petty issues. They feel miserable. Yet just a couple miles away lies the cure to what ails them, if only they’d let themselves partake of it. As Carl Jung explains in his book, “The Earth Has A Soul”, nature has a restorative quality to it, and for humans to maintain their health they must keep in touch with nature and to visit it often.
This reminds me of what I’ve said before about the homeless, that they live under a storm cloud, constantly depressed, their vision is skewed, near sighted. I say this about the homeless in response to people saying things like, “the homeless come here for the weather,” or “if we create more services for the homeless, we’ll just attract more homeless people.” Both of those ideas are wrong for the very fact that homeless people cannot, as a general rule, see beyond their homelessness. Their view of life, of their situation, is clouded by depression and unhappiness, and all the other emotions like anger and fear. Homeless people are too consumed with their situation to be mindful of such leisure benefits, of trying to climb any social or financial ladder. The homeless are not looking to take advantage of the next best thing to come along. Desperate people don’t have such choices.
And so it’s true of all poor people, regardless of the depth of their poverty – over come by their situation, they are unable to see and thus take advantage of the good things in life, even when it’s so close at hand.
Me? After reading some Carl Jung and Thomas Merton as well as Hemingway and Steinbeck, I’ve been working to become more self aware – to understand myself and my place in the world, all so that I can break from bonds and overcome the obstacles that prevent me from living life. So, yeah, I’m not like most homeless people in that regard, and I can, with some effort, step out of myself, and enjoy things, (like going to the beach) if only briefly.