Opinion: Summer Puts the Goo in Laguna

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I was going to write a snarky column about a certain PAC trying to gain credibility as the protectors of Laguna by claiming to have saved the Canyon from development 33 years ago, despite being birthed just three years ago. But then I was descending the steps at the Montage on a beautiful morning, heading to donation-based yoga in the park, when all that noise in my head simply washed away. And as I bent this beat-up body to my teacher’s exhortations to “breathe, Tight Guy” (yes that’s my well-earned moniker), I sank into a delightful stupor of gratitude over my good fortune to be here—in this very moment, amidst the swaying palms, crashing waves, briny sea breeze, melodic birds, exotic succulents, and the cheer of families walking by on their way to the beach, all on the land the God blessed with the most perfect climate in the universe. How could I possibly dispense any outrage towards anything or anyone when I was the luckiest man on earth?

Just breathe, man, and be present to all the gifts around you.

I spent the first half of summer in Europe. Spain, Norway and England, to be precise. It’s pretty epic over there. Nothing like swimming in the calm, clear, warm Med, or eating paella in the sand, washed down by a fruity Sangria. In Norway, I encountered mind-boggling verdant waterfalls, welcoming people, and a cashless society. I entered the country with $300 in Kroners, and left with the same amount. Every merchant has a mobile chip reader—even the street buskers. I also saw more electric vehicles than anywhere I’ve ever been, despite the fact that Norway exports 10 times more oil than they use. They are serious about climate change, incentivizing their citizens to go electric, with the goal that salmon farming overtakes oil as their biggest industry. Of course, London is London, a civilized, multi-cultural New York. The Bobbies don’t carry guns. Young people are out everywhere, having a grand time. Brexit hasn’t dimmed its vibrancy. And still, it was noisy and unseasonably hot and chaotic and I couldn’t wait to get home to Laguna.

As the rest of the planet melts, with temperatures in Northern California last week reaching as high as 115 degrees, we continue to enjoy an endless string of mid-70’s, partially cloudy days. Also known as “perfection.” And for those of you bemoaning the lack of sun this summer, just take a trip inland and you will hurry right back to salvation.

Those of us who sometimes dwell on the negative just need to get out more. Our amazing art and music festivals are in full swing again, showcasing how many residents make a living through their creativity. Music is everywhere—so much of it free—at the festivals, bars, restaurants, the Promenade, the mighty Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center (check out Beth Woods’ songwriter showcase on the first Tuesday of the month), and even in neighborhoods like Bluebird Canyon, with their annual summer festival last weekend. And then there’s music in Bluebird Park, second only to Hospitality Night and Sawdust opening night as the place to meet everyone in town, dance to great music, and joyously celebrate how distant the troubles of the world seem.

That glorious Pacific Ocean deserves much of the credit. Not only is it hypnotic in its beauty and power, it’s also our giant natural air conditioner. Our water has been hovering around a delicious 70 degrees, it’s crystal clear with abundant sea life (I even spotted white sea bass close to shore), and even the mighty swells are finally awakening. Or take a hike and enjoy our beautiful but parched coastal sage scrub. If you time it right, you can see the sun set and moon rise, as I did on a recent night with my yoga instructor as she led a hike to a summit and gently bathed us in Tibetan bowl sound vibrations. Is this a dream?

Or check out the monster mash known as the Laguna Beach Full Moon Drum Circle, now entering its 20th season, delighting people young and old and from near and far with the most epic free happening in Laguna. Next one is at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 at Aliso Beach. Get there early as summer months are crowded. Bring a blanket, a picnic, and the whole family. Better yet, join the percussion community by bringing an instrument and some wood for the fire.

Then when the grooves kick in and you can’t stop your booty from shaking, take a moment to notice the moonlight glistening on the ocean, the waves crashing on the sand, Laguna’s glittering coastline to the north, and the utter state of bliss engulfing the multigenerational drummers and dancers. And you’ll know, in that moment, despite the rancor over the future of our planet and town, everything is perfect.

By practicing mindfulness and presence with everything Laguna gifts us, you’ll fall in love every day, all over again.

Billy hosts Laguna Talks on Thursday nights on KXFM radio. He’s also the CEO of La Vida Laguna, an E-bike and ocean sports tour company. Email: [email protected]

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  1. Oh, and I forgot to mention our amazing food supply. What a cherry season we are enjoying! Plump, juicy, fellas. And stone fruits coming in now!

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