A few days of my favorite class in college focused on how to observe and experience your environment more keenly. Our professor taught us that we should learn how to cultivate "The Illusion of the First/Last Time." The idea is that when you see a place for the first time, you are supremely more aware of the details around you, noticing things that those that are accustomed to the place don't notice anymore, and you are maybe more appreciative. And then, when you see a place for the last time, you tend to linger, soak it in, let your senses take their time over the things there are to remember about the place. In these ways, if we cultivate the illusion that we are in a place for the first or last time, we can see, feel, and learn more about it. It can work with a person or an action or anything. I've never forgotten this lesson.
I don't know if I will be leaving Santa Barbara this year. But in case I am, I have been trying to soak up the luxuries that my daily life in this town bestows upon me, thinking about them more deeply than before, and wringing out every bit of wonderfulness from them. If I leave, I would miss a thousand things as much as I might miss my right arm if it were gone.
But one of the main ones would most certainly be the weather. There are so many great things about living in coastal California and having one of the most mild climates in the world... it's what I've grown up with. But as I look around me, in the dead of our winter, I'm noticing more as I wonder if I might not have this next year.
Tonight, people sit on outdoor patios of restaurants. It was rainy and windy today, but tonight was calm and mild, and outdoors they sat with thin jackets on and no hint of chill. When my friends and I want to dress nice to go out at night, we can leave our jackets in the car for the short walk to the destination. In February. I can go for a run in a tank top and shorts. It rains for more than three days in a row and it makes major news. Just a few days ago, I laid out in a bathing suit in my backyard to read. I mean, this is ridiculous. And I've never known anything else.
This part of the world is wonderful, and many who live here consider the weather to be the best part about it. And I might leave it for a place, as described by it's locals, that is truly amazing except for one bad thing: the weather.
I'm reveling in the 50 and 60 something degree days, sometimes 70+, that we call winter. But I'm also trying to convince myself that these are not non-negotiables for a content life. I'm trying to make myself believe that I wouldn't miss them desperately if they were gone. Because weather isn't everything... right?