For several years I have been writing a book. I am now very close to publishing it. Below I present to you an excerpt from the opening chapter. Do let me know what you think.
"My lanky sister Betty, the oldest and tallest of our band of three musketeers, walked at the front of our line carrying a spindly stick she picked up on the bank of the creek that ran beside our house. The youngest, I followed next. Bringing up the rear was our family friend, Masha.
Most Saturdays we took the dirt path that led from our back yard to Stevens Park and into the Santa Barbara hills. Sometimes, instead of taking the path, we cautiously stepped from rock to rock up the dry creek bed shaded by oak and sycamore trees. We were explorers.
We climbed to the top of huge boulders where we discovered smooth holes carved from years of Chumash Indians grinding acorns on the slabs. Sometimes we were surprised by a snake on the trail that shook its angry rattler at us. We ran all the way back home in fear and collapsed on the shaded lawn where it was safe to breath and explode with laughter.
As a teenager, and after my sister went off exploring with her own friends, my girlfriends and I rode our bikes the four miles one-way to Hendry's beach. We took long walks, talking and sifting through the ups and downs of our lives. We were forever cooking up elaborate plans.
One such plan was to roller skate to our first day of high school. We were not accomplished roller skaters and this was before the days of roller blades, so it proved to be a long and bumpy trip. We laughed, took some spills and were surprised how far it was to our new school. We arrived late to the first day of high school.
Adventures continued until the final day of summer prior to senior year of high school. On that Sunday, we rode our bikes to Montecito and ended up at Butterfly Beach. We sat on the rock wall watching the crashing waves until the sun set and the moon rose on the ocean's horizon.
We composed a ditty with a bouncing rhythm, "Does the moonlight tan you in the summertime? Does the moonlight tan you in the fall, fall, fall? (In turn we leaned to the right from the waist and across each other' lap as one at a time we shouted "fall.") Does the moonlight tan you in the summertime? Does the moonlight tan you at all?"
We were postponing our final year of high school for as long as we possibly could. Though we didn't talk about it, I think we were afraid that our adventures would soon be ending.
What we didn't know or believe on that summer day was that the adventures would not end. Instead, my childhood in Santa Barbara set the stage for the journeys that followed.
My travels have taken me to Nepal and to France; Thailand and England; Bali and Canada. Whether hiking, biking, riding on the back of an elephant or in a rickety bus, the journeys led me to places I could never have imagined.
On each trip I reflected on my life and the lives of the people I met. "What is it like to live here?" "Who am I?" "What is going on here?"
Later I learned that these are also questions that I would reflect on while sitting in meditation at a Zen retreat. "What am I?" "What is this?" And discover the answer, "Don't know.""
Stay tuned for the publication date of The Key to the Castle: Zen and Travel Stories of Trust.
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