A new way of thinking

When I went to Los Angeles recently with my oldest daughter many serendipitous things happened. One of them was the relationship we forged with a man of Asian decent, a little older than myself, who has a beautiful garden house with small surrounding guest houses all clustered on a small property in Eagle Rock, which is my favorite neighborhood in L.A.

The man has his very lovely elderly parents living with him, who do not speak much English. I am guessing maybe they are Korean but I didn't ask. The lovely parents took walks morning and night, around the neighborhood, holding hands. During the day they were sitting under the gorgeous foliage and canvas umbrellas of their son's gardens at the front of the house.

In the back were the guest houses, three of them, and a communal patio, again shaded by fabulous palms, small fruit trees, a lemon tree covered in yellow lemons we could pick and slice for our sparkling water. Canvas umbrellas were standing in waist high terra cotta pots and angled in every fortuitous direction to keep out any undesired sun at the large round table with chairs scattered around it. More chairs and small tables, and even electric lamps with decorative shades, lined the periphery. This is where Nina and I sat every morning and again in the early evening, drawing and painting with watercolors in sketchbooks we had each brought from home. 

On the first day we painted, we left to go for lunch, and when we returned to our work, still laid out on the communal patio table under the clustered umbrellas, we found now the addition of a small collection of books about drawing and painting. One was a tutorial on how to draw a still life, another was a beautiful picture book of botanical water color paintings.

Our host had seen what we were doing and had silently added his own input to our work.

This is the relationship we forged.

One afternoon I received an email from our host saying that he had "scored" some excellent "Manila mangos" at the farmer's market. He said he'd be serving them the next morning. Sure enough, the next morning we came out of our little house and there on a side table was hot fresh herb tea in a small black kettle sitting over a flame for us, and a cake plate covered with a glass bell displaying fat slices of mango, cut on their skins into small squares, so that you lifted the glass bell, chose a slice, put it on a small china plate he had laid out, and ate the small squares of perfect delight with a silver cocktail fork, also provided.

All of this description is for me, and hopefully for you as well, to relive what life can be, to remember what Heaven on Earth we possess for the price of a mango and some creativity, and some generosity. This man did not need to provide these things for us. Nina and I were each paying exactly $35 per night, $70 for the whole little guest house we shared, with it's own stocked kitchen and full bath included. We did not pay for hot tea with fresh herb sprigs jutting from the pot lid, or fresh mangos on a china cake plate on the patio.

Isn't this remarkable? I hope my words are conveying it for you. Also, the plane ticket from Minneapolis to Los Angeles was no more than $220 and my daughter paid half for mine to help me join her in Paradise. This is a most affordable vacation. And, when we arrived there were bottles of sparking water in our refrigerator and a chilled bottle of Rosé wine for us.

So, in this environment of wonder and delight, on the last day, the host asked us if we had read the book called The Secret. We both said we had not. He said that he was well aware that some people thought of this book as silly or ridiculous, as the worst kind of magical thinking self help nonsense. We agreed that there were a lot of books that could possibly be described that way. But I listened carefully to this man as he described the merits of this book. This was a man who had stacks of books tucked everywhere around his covered areas of his garden. He had the poetry of Robert Frost sitting under the darling electric lamp with the patterned fabric shade.

So, he told me that I could take his copy of The Secret with me and read it. He had it sitting suddenly on top of a large stack of guide books about Los Angeles that he keeps for guests in his entryway. I held his copy in my hands and looked carefully at the cover. I told him that I would buy the book for my ipad which is easier for me anyway. I promised him I would read it.

Now I am finishing this book called The Secret. 

I agree with it, with every word of it.

I am grateful to have gone to the city of angels and to have met this man and to have received his gifts.

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