Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I noticed something when the alarm clock went off, this morning, and it was still dark. My suspicions were confirmed while I stood in the door of my train, as it crossed the L.A. River, and approached Union Station. The sun was at an oblique angle that gave a melancholy color to everything that it touched. It was the color of windy days when dead leaves swirl in vortices, reminding us of the end of the life-giving season. We are now on the downhill portion of our yearly ride around the sun. This is the part of the ride where the days get shorter and shorter, the grass fades to yellow, and colorful songbirds migrate south, abandoning us like a fickle lover who has found someone younger.

I know what you’re thinking. Hey, it’s still summer! It’s so hot, that you have to run the air conditioner at night. That may be true, but I know what’s down the road. I see the signs. If you live in L.A., the only two seasons are hot sunny summer, and the warm, sunny winter, with the occasional cold rain storm that visits for a week, before giving back the sun. During the winter, even though the sun shines so much, it’s low in the sky. The tired December sun doesn’t have the energy to get that high above the horizon, before he abandons us to long nights of dark streets with car headlights that blind us while we stand on the sidewalk. It’s dark when we leave the house in the morning, and dark when we get home.

Every summer around June 21st, I hike down Santa Anita Canyon, to look for Black Swifts. I deliberately hike into this forest on the longest day of the year. Each year the same thing happens as I sit on a rock at the base of Sturdevant Falls, waiting for the Black Swifts to return to their nest that they have built under the raging torrent crashing down the solid rock hillside. As I sit there, I realize that since this is the longest day of the year, from now on all the days will shorter, and I get depressed.

I was the school kid who got depressed every year, because I knew that September 1st was coming up, and it was back into the frying pan of cruel teenagers. I wasn’t a jock, a surfer, or a rocker. I was one of the nerds, who didn’t have a girlfriend until the 11th grade. For me, the glass was perpetually half empty.

As an adult, I’ve realized that the glass isn’t half empty, or half full. Life is dynamic, in constant motion, always changing. You take an empty glass, fill it up with water, and work your way to the bottom. When you’re done, you start over. The seasons and the years of our lives are like that two. Sure, each year brings all of us closer to that ultimate winter when the sun goes down one night, and never comes back up for us; but that’s okay, because our kids and grandchildren will be there in the morning to watch it rise.

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