Driving south on Pacific Coast Highway, the four mile stretch between Sunset Beach and Huntington, I take in the beauty of the wetlands and the ocean. On any given day, I can catch a glimpse of a Snowy Egret, Blue Heron, or Pelicans flying in formation. Dogs run and play on the beach, and more often than not, there are surfers enjoying the waves. For several years this was my drive home from college, first as a business student, then years later earning my teaching credential, and eventually my master’s degree. For a few more years it was my drive home from work, the best commute of my life. And somewhere in between it was the last miles of my running route as I trained for a half marathon. Today it’s the drive home from anywhere north on any given day. I walk it regularly too. By car and by foot, I have traveled this path thousands of times, and I never, ever tire of its beauty or the memories it holds for me.
Coming home from a morning meditation, I reflect on the hour I spent nourishing my heart, releasing painful words, thoughts, and memories that have taken up residency for far too long. Like a giant garage sale I got rid of shit I just didn’t need, and I can see now that I hung on to it for far too long. The experience left me feeling light, happy and even a little proud. When I started my meditation practice a little more than a year ago, it seemed an impossible task. I simply could not slow my mind or concentrate on my breathing, spiritual awakening seemed a million miles away. I felt doomed to a life of heartache and misery; it was much easier to rattle off what was wrong with my life than to find a reason to be grateful. Something deep, deep inside of me told me to keep trying, so I did.
My car set on autopilot, I approach the cliffs. I glance at the ocean below. The sun dances on the water, and the tide is low, perfect for strolling. My senses are awakened by a memory from so long ago. I allow myself to reminisce, and the story unfolds. A Saturday afternoon, neither one of us dressed for a walk on the beach, our pants rolled up to our shins, wet and sandy at the cuff, we hold hands, each of us using our free hand to carry our shoes. I see our faces so clearly, young and happy, I hear our voices so distinctly, every word spoken. I feel his lips gently touch mine, like someone I have kissed a million times, and yet every kiss is brand new. We talk and laugh, and for me, life feels perfect. The recall of this feeling is so intense, so real, for a moment my heart remembers how it feels to be in love, how it feels to be loved.
Like a trusted old friend, this familiar drive comforts me. I share my secrets and reveal my true self without fear of judgement. I can relive this day, see our footprints on the sand, and wish for a chance to make them all over again. This piece of highway that I have walked, run and driven knows that I spent years searching for the secret ingredient to make love last, doubting my ability to have a successful relationship, and feeling absolutely sure I was unlovable. And now it knows that I have found my way.
I wanted to align my insides, my heart and my soul, with the peace and beauty that surrounded me outside. I owed it to myself to try harder, to commit to something that would bring significant change to my life. Turns out I needed to look inward to solve my problems.
My life is better, happier. I still drift in and out of self-doubt. We all do. The difference today is it’s a passing feeling, situational, and not a way of life. I am grounded, more balanced in my perception of myself and the world. I have learned to cut myself some slack.
As the drive takes me back down to sea level, before turning my car toward my home and away from the ocean, I look toward Catalina, the beautiful back drop of my life. I consider the changes I have made this past year. Today I indulge in self-love. I let go of people who hurt me and I stay connected to people who love me exactly as I am. I have stopped searching for the secret ingredient. I discovered that the something that told me to keep on trying was me, my soul, my spirit yelling from beneath the rubble, Don’t give up! YOU are the secret ingredient! YOU are all you need to be! That alone makes you worthy of love.
That’s good enough for me.