Finding Meaning


Our Social Wealth

By Skip Hellewell

Do you stop to count your money now and then, adding up your wealth? I used to do it at year end, summing up our savings accounts, updating the equity in our properties. The growth in our estate, though modest, gave assurance that we had reserves to cover setbacks, help with college for the kids, maybe even enjoy a far-off retirement with the Beautiful Wife. But there was also an element of greed, of always wanting more. There was no satiety; the more we had the more I wanted. Know what I mean?

There are other forms of wealth, but they aren’t so easy to value. Or maybe we just don’t think to value them. Health is most appreciated when lost. To be loved is precious, though not always noted. Family is the cradle for our dearest and longest relationships. Friendships bless. Taken together, these make life meaningful. I remarked to the BW last night that while adding up our estate over the years, I had never thought to count our social wealth, the bonds of love.

This is on my mind because I’m reading Mary Eberstadt’s “Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics.” Eberstadt suggests that the sexual revolution, accompanied by the dissolution of families and more casual relationships, has diminished our country’s gross national product of relationships. There are other factors. Smaller families mean fewer family bonds. Less churchgoing results in reduced spiritual connections. These are the ties that bind us together.

Last week, amidst the ongoing political acrimony, I read W. B. Yeat’s poem, “The Second Coming” to the BW. A century ago, Yeats told of how “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…anarchy is loosed…” Though long past, it seemed all too present. I asked the BW whether there might not be some minimum social GNP, some essential quantum of caring bonds, needed to hold our democracy together?

It was food for thought and I thought of the remarkable people I have connected with in the two years of writing Finding Meaning. I value those bonds as I value you, faithful readers. About this time, I got an email from our Indy editor, Allison Jarrell. Over her 18 months guiding the Indy, Allison has occasionally taken trips back home to her family in Michigan. Her email was to announce a permanent return to Michigan, to be with family and edit a regional magazine. Goodbye, Laguna.

Once over the surprise, I looked back over the hundred or so emails we had shared. She has been an encouraging editor and I noticed her emails always ended with a characteristic, “Thanks! :).” Well, “Thanks! :)” back to you Ms. Jarrell. One warning: You just might miss Laguna, the warming morning sun, the refreshing breeze, the smell of the ocean when strolling the beach, all that. And we’ll miss you; you’ve become part of our social wealth. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected]


Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):

Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact [email protected] for events and meetings.

Calvary Chapel Seaside, 21540 Wesley Drive (Lang Park Community Center), 10:30 a.m.

Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 6 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.

Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.

ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.

Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.

Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.

United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, Sunday 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish). Saturday: 4 pm Reconciliation, 5:30 Mass.

St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.



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