Pismo Beach, Part 1

The first weekend of May I traveled to Pismo Beach, California to take part in The Meet & Greet with Martha Beck for the September 2012 and January 2013 Life Coach Training Cohorts.  This was a powerful and transformative event for me.  I’ve wanted to relate my experience, so I’ve been allowing it to soak and settle in.  I think the term “changed my life” is over-used and cliché, so I am striving to give an accurate accounting of my experience and take-aways from Pismo Beach.  To do so, I’ve decided to divide my recounting into 4 parts.  Here is Part 1.

Pismo Beach 1

Welcome to Pismo

One powerful influence I experienced was the setting.  Granted, I may have been more susceptible, seeing as this was my first trip to the Central California Coast (second time, technically, but that’s another story).  Traveling from the Northeast, I arrived to an afternoon that was sunny, dry, and comfortably warm, with the temperature in the 70’s.  After the adventure of my cross-country trip, settling into such a beautiful spot was restorative.  So, after a little unpacking, I ventured out to explore the hotels grounds and the beach below.

Over the weekend, I spent a great deal of time either on the beach at water’s edge or looking out over the vast Pacific, watching as the dancing, journeying waves formed and traveled toward the beach and pier.  I loved all the people spending time at this energetic intersection—walkers, dog-walkers, runners, families, friends young and old.  I watched, mesmerized, the surfers and wind-surfers dynamically balancing and playing in the magical zone of combining/combating energies of wave and wind.  Some people on the beach were in their own worlds or focused in conversation with another; but I found most people open and inviting, willing to make eye contact and exchange hellos.

The energy of this place was strong and uplifting.  The warmth of the sun, the crash of the waves, the call of the birds, the smiles all around—it all felt inviting and accepting.  I watched narrow side streets at cliff’s edge fill up each afternoon as locals in wet suits carried their boards to grab some late afternoon waves before dinner.  The first evening on the beach a couple asked if I saw the dolphins playing in the surf.  The next day, a woman tried to point me in the direction of a couple whales she had seen breaching just below the horizon.  I didn’t see either display, but I actually felt great satisfaction being in a place where things like that were happening, and where people were taking the time to notice and enjoy.

Pismo Beach 4

No More “No Trespassing”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I returned.  I was playing with the thought on my run today.  It was a good run—long, by my standards (7 miles).  I’ve had a little difficulty motivating myself to run since I returned.  I ran twice on the beach in Pismo, and I know its environment really made my runs…fun.  I especially miss passing by and interacting with all the people on the beach.  For the most part, everyone I passed on the beach was there by choice.  A totally different energy.  I was lamenting the scarcity of people on my runs out here.  But, I do tend to greet the people I pass.

Today was street-sweeping in town.  I slowly caught up to, and then passed, one of the sweeping machines.  The fellow driving was on the right-hand side, leaning a bit out the window, so we exchanged a few words.  It made me consider that the difference I’m feeling isn’t a lack of people, but the fact that most people here are rushing around in cars, heading to their next errands rather than being present where they are.

I also noticed all the fences and gates around, signs of No Trespassing.  Again, this contrasted the open feeling I experienced in Pismo Beach.  There was no indication of private beaches; there was no restriction to where one could go; heck, even dogs were touring the beach.  In fact, my hotel had public access down to the beach, and I would watch surfers of all ages trek through the parking lot in the early morning and again in the afternoon to hit the waves.

While on my run today, the idea crystallized about how I could sum up the difference I feel between here and Pismo Beach.  In terms of environment, including external and internal energy, here is like a huge “No Trespassing” sign.  In Pismo Beach, I felt there was no more “No Trespassing.”  Too often it has felt necessary and proper to live privately, securely, properly.  In my life, everyone around me is trying to appear perfect, and we would do that by hiding our imperfections.  In Pismo, maybe particularly because of my experience at The Meet & Greet, authentic and open were the order of the day.  There is such a difference of energy in feeling free to be real, in allowing yourself to play and fail and practice and learn.  The environment of acceptance is welcoming and freeing.  The alternative is limiting and oppressive, living in fear of failure and judgment.

So, I invite you to take a look at your life.  Are there places in your life where you’ve hung a “No Trespassing” sign?  Do you have rooms or closets in your life where you don’t allow people?  What would it take for you to know that it’s all okay?  How would it feel to be free?

3 thoughts on “Pismo Beach, Part 1

  1. Ray, I enjoyed reading this reflection. Not only along the coast of Cali, but so many places like NZ and Amsterdam innately hold the feeling of freedom ….freedom from fear. Always felt that love is the opposite of fear and that is what you were feeling at the beach, love and a oneness.

  2. Loved your post! One piece that really resonated with me was the idea of being “present”. And, how much it is a discipline, at least in the beginning. You mentioned the many people rushing around…it makes me think of (way back to political science days in college) Plato’s Cave metaphor, or thinking of Eckart Tolle’s or Byron Katie’s beginning of their awakening. It is amazing how much we need to stop, open our eyes and just “be” giving ourselves a deeper awareness of and in life.

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