Looking Back: Simpler Times

Since my father was a U.S. Navy Captain for 27 years I’ve moved around quite a bit in my life. From Washington D.C. to Hospital Point, Hawaii to Levittown, New Jersey to Naples, Italy to Chelsea, Massachusetts to Bowie, Maryland to Portsmouth, Rhode Island to Marshfield, Massachusetts then on to the University of New Mexico and finally here to Los Angeles. The upside is that one is exposed to many differing cultures, mores’ and individuals.

My family traveled light for the most part as every two years or so we pulled stakes and moved on. For myself I became somewhat of a loner who took up singular activities that did not rely on teammates and such. It was a bit of “on the team – off the team” syndrome. Surfing, archery, karate, camping and some shooting and hunting were my mainstays. I was constantly reading, although one might not assume so as evidenced by my writing – just ask my wife and son who has to edit it all!

I took up surfing in the winter in Rhode Island when no one else was ever present on the beach and especially in the water. When the seaside boulders are covered in saltwater ice it tends to discourage the faint of heart to sally forth and challenge King Neptune. I tried my hand at hunting in Marshfield, but that didn’t go well so any birds I was targeting were safer than they had ever been. Fishing for striped bass was a kick in Rhode Island and back then it was not uncommon to tie into a 30 pounder which put up a spirited fight and could easily pull you off the edge of the shore line.

The one thing which does stand out to me is that there were not as many people and resources back then. Absent the internet you had to go out and search for waves, birds or fish. There were no real surf or fish reports to speak of so it was pretty much the luck of the draw when you caught a good swell or hooked into a Striper. You had to brave the elements whatever they might be. In L.A. these days there are not many places you can go to seek such a modicum of solitude. The beach not only has surfers but roller-bladers, reclined bicyclists, runners, joggers, walkers, Taoists, Buddhists, Tai Chi types, yoga purists up the kazoo, meditators, homeless for sure, dog people, cat people, bird people, skinny women in painted-on leotards looking for a mate, shirtless men looking for painted-on leotards, dogs looking for owners and cats not looking for anyone in particular. In short, you venture out into the wilds of L.A. and you come across everything. I have gotten pretty used to all of this, although I’m not sure it’s altogether a good thing. Sometimes I yearn for simple times like my early days where everywhere wasn’t as densely populated. Maybe heading back to the beaches of Massachusetts in the winter is the answer. Not sure I could take those freezing waters anymore though.

The younger generation will face even more congestion when they reach their upper years. This is simply an observational bent on my part and it would be good to hear from some of you as to your take on how dramatically the world has shifted during your lifetime. Feel free to rant on.

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