I began pacing around the apartment, searching the archives of my mind for a memory that fit just right. I wanted to write about a place that gave me equal feelings of gratitude and awe. I had been to many places both near and far – shouldn’t this be easy?
Was the TV too loud? Was it the dreaded “writer’s block” – I had heard so much about? Did it really hit when you least expected it? Perhaps, it was waiting until the last minute. I usually worked well with some degree of pressure. Next time, I vowed to start well in advance. My New Year’s resolution was settled – to never again procrastinate.
I repeated in my head…what special place was I looking for? Then before I could get up for another pacing session, I had it!
It wasn’t a thing of beauty on its own, but something made of concrete, wood and steel. The place was a little seedy, and smelled of fish. It’s where an eclectic mix of seabirds, locals, fishermen, and domestic/international tourists do what they do. It’s a stone’s throw from the tumult of a world famous boardwalk and in the same region as another SoCal (Southern Californian) icon – nestled amongst the Hollywood hills.
It sits at the edge of the Pacific Ocean with nothing between it and the Hawaiian Islands. It gets two thumbs up in the sunset department, and includes views of Malibu to the North, and Palos Verdes to the South. The place I am referring to is the Venice Beach Pier.
The pier at the south end of Venice Beach, California – is where I contemplated my life. It’s where I would attempt to meditate, ponder my past and re-ponder my destiny, while just taking it all in. It’s a place that arouses the five senses with some of the best sights (eclectic people and scenic vistas), sounds (kids chasing squawking birds, fishermen gossiping in Spanish and tourists gawking at surfers), smells (of sea breeze, live bait and sweet herbal essences), touch (of initials carved into the wooden benches), and all those tastes (just off the pier’s edge).
Quintessential neighborhood eateries include; Hinano Cafe – where Jim Morrison is said to have eaten and caroused, C&O Trattoria – family style Italian eatery, which is great for celebratory groups with in and outdoor seating, The Terrace – a classic beachfront brunch spot, plus The Cow’s End Café – a place to grab a healthy portioned deli sandwich and a fabulous warm take-away beverage to accompany your walk to the pier’s end. Finally, The Venice Whaler – a pseudo Tiki-Bar, where patrons fill upper and lower patios while they listen to music, watch sporting events, eat contemporary pub grub and tilt their elbow’s back beachside.
There is a spot on the benches at the end of the pier, where I sat on several occasions, and did my pondering. I could watch the sunset everyday from that very spot. It’s where I decided travel was my life’s inspiration and calling. In between, I tried desperately to capture moments of being humanly present. It has always stirred my interest in enlightenment. It may seem odd to choose a pier as a place of great appreciation, though it has those two distinct components – awe and gratitude.
I am forever grateful for my times of introspection walking down the wind and sand swept pier deck. I would sit and revisit a trip I had just finished or imagine the place I wanted to head to next. I then tried to take in and enjoy the SoCal vibe, as unique as Venice Beach itself.
The awe factor derived from the shear iconic grandeur of the crescent shaped bay, where so many dreams painstakingly come to be and others get derailed. In my case the awe of possibility, for my life, and how I could make others lives better.
I don’t have enough words to explain a life’s work in progress, but it’s these special places in our comings and goings that anchor our dreams within physicality. It helped solidify mine – to travel and write. The Venice Beach Pier is one of the places I am most grateful for. It has filled me with awe and the breath of inspiration.
I truly believe my outlook on life changed for good on those profound visits. My purpose had been molded. The rest, as they say…is still unwritten.
About the Author – Jeff Shoer: Having traveled the earth in search of a happy stomach, Jeff continues to follow a path to food loving destinations. He hopes to walk off the calories en-route to more great tastes.
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