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.