Sunday, 20 June 2010

Somebody pressed the accelerator.

And time disappeared.  San Francisco is a fantastic place.  It's like falling down the rabbit hole - it never pays to assume anything about anybody, no matter how ordinary they might seem at first.  Everyone has a story and an idea.  Everybody is involved in a cause.  Everybody makes and does.  Everyone is determinedly and unselfconsciously individual.  Everybody (*everybody*) does yoga.  I've never come across anywhere where it was so difficult to buy food that wasn't organic.  Nobody runs with a crowd.  Where is the crowd?

It couldn't exist in England.  We are too cynical, too into bathos, too proud.  Too concerned with the neighbours and keeping up with the Joneses.  I guess that is true in a large number of places in this country too, but not, I have the impression, in urban California.  I kind of miss the self-deprecating British humour, I think in the right dosage it can generate humility and hence tolerance (we often get it wrong and use it to support arrogance or discourage ambition, both of which damage our society).  Not that San Francisco is in any way intolerant.  We could do with a bit of optimism back home; we lack it.  A really big bit.

Things I have learned in San Francisco, so far, with 10 days left to go:
 - How to smile at strangers.
 - Most people, really, are friendly if you talk to them right.
 - Kung Fu.

     - How to paint a wall (they're different to stages).

     - Quirky people are most people, if you find the right space for them.
     - What hemlock looks like.

     - How to change a bike tyre.
     - How to fit new brake blocks.

     - That however tired you are, the view from the top is worth the effort of the harder path.

     - What a beaver* looks like!

     - Constant searching for betterment prevents enjoyment of the now.
     - It is possible to conform to being a non-conformist.

    More things.



    1. Going to pretend I didn't find the footnote hilarious, and in fact don't understand it at all... 0:-)

      Main question: how, after many years in Cambridge, had you never changed a bike tyre or brakes?

    2. I always had bikes that wore out or got stolen before I needed to change anything...

    3. H - I love this. And I super love the fact that you've learnt to change a bike tyre. I never have either, so kudos from me anyway ;-)

      But main point is I've been reading a book (actually one you would love I think - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver; seasonal eating and why it's marvellous, with added drool-inducing recipes) and now I want to make cheese. This struck me as the sort of activity you may wish to be involved with - want to play when you get back?

      Hope the learning continues in the same delightful vein. Learning is what life is about, I've decided (hence cheese).

      Joy x