I went camping up at El Capitan State Park the last few days. Spent a relaxed 48 hours “out of touch”.
El Capitan is a nice place to camp. The campsites sit on bluffs overlooking the Pacific, or tucked along the creek in a shaded glen, you pick. There’s some nature trails and a nice hike to Refugio Beach for you “walkers”.
This is all less than 2 hours from L.A.
I spent time down on the ocean’s edge…
Pebbles populate the shore like spectators at a surfing tournament. The clouds lumber up to the beach, gray and wise, an old man hovering over a chess match, trying to tell me something I am too deaf to hear, or else can’t understand because I don’t speak the same cloud-language.
A person had come before and delicately placed rocks on top of each other, the small stack watches the waves crash one after another.
I sit there and watch too.
And wonder if the ocean watches us.
The land drifts off behind me… 100 miles to the south Los Angeles stews beneath the clouds. Or maybe there are no clouds over Los Angeles, as perfect as she is, just El Capitan? Without Google Weather, how would I know? And there’s no WiFi at El Capitan to get Google Weather. My wife has her computer along and she tried. That’s just a fact these days, computers at campgrounds.
A squirrel pops up and begins staring at me. I pull out my camera. (The usual cue that sends squirrels, literally, turning tail and running) The squirrel does nothing but sit there and watch me.
So, I snap its image, stealing its soul.
Time wears down like it does on the beach without a clock to keep track of it, languid and meaninglessly. The ocean continues to heave its contents on the shore, muddy and foamy and looking like nothing I’d refresh myself in.
A patch of weeds grows intertwined with the rocks and the driftwood.
The Channel Islands are hidden by the clouds but I know they’re out there. And because I know they’re out there, I can feel them out there. Like some magnetic charge of knowledge.
I think of getting up and going back to my camp but there’s something about the ocean I can’t leave. It tumbles ten yards ahead of me, dependably, religiously, as it has for eaons and epochs and measurements of time I can’t even fathom, and this all makes me feel very young.
I’m sitting in the lotus position. On a patch of grass. Meditating. A family flies a kite behind me. I’m picturing a perfect diamond in my heart. Glowing. A glowing diamond. How ridiculously cheesy is that? I’m thinking only of my breathing. In. Out. The simple function of my lungs expanding/contracting. And the diamond, glowing in my heart.
I am searching for silence.
The part of being where non-being hides, the space between breaths.
I’m getting close to pure nothingness when the squirrel scampers back into my consciousness and I begin wondering what it is doing here, before I realize that that must mean something, then I try to figure out what it means. I make a note to write about this, later, when I get back home. The squirrel interrupting my meditation. Then it hits me. I am a squirrel. The way I navigate through life: running around, gathering little acorns of experience and tucking them away for later use…
Eventually I get up, mosey on back to camp.
Walking through a meadow I come upon a lifeguard shack in disrepair — flaking paint, caution tape strung around it — reminding me, oddly, of teenage love.
And the T.V show Gidget.
So, in the end, El Capitan is not a bad piece of nature to lose yourself in, to be alone with your thoughts and meditate by the waves. Clouds or not, it’s a nice place to catch up on your squirrelness.
Give it a try, but call ahead for reservations. At least, if you’re thinking of heading up for the weekend.