I hear voices when I’m in Stanley Park. Not every time. But if I get quiet enough and open my heart enough, I hear them.
I heard one of these voices earlier today.
I was standing in a wide sunbeam above Third Beach, on the west side of the park. I wore two layers of fleece under my Arc’teryx rain jacket, plus gloves and a fleece hat. Good choices for a mid-November late afternoon. My rottweiler was standing beside me, at just the right height for my hand to twirl his ear. The beach was still and quiet except for the small waves. “Monty, I love this place, just beautiful,” I said.
Come every day then.
And there it was. I’m sure I miss this voice sometimes, if I’m too busy, too closed. But today, I heard it. My favorite place on earth is fifteen minutes from my house. Yes, why don’t I come every day?
I do love Stanley Park. As kids, we visited the polar bears, monkeys and otters in the old zoo. Whenever I pass the overpass entrance to Beaver Lake, I see its image in the oil painting I grew up with and that still hangs in my sister’s house. Together, my mom and I learned to run on the seawall and the James Cunningham Seawall 10K was our first race. Eighteen years later, I ran the seawall and cried, in grief for my mom, during a Guns and Roses’ cover of Knocking on Heaven’s Door.
I love the beach sounds of Stanley Park. Crows drop mussels from twenty feet up and gut the insides before I crunch the shells under my feet. The waves, sometimes mild, other times making me wonder if I missed the Tsunami warning.
I giggle in Stanley Park. A Chevron gas station floating in the water? That is so damn cute! Or when Monty hears a suspect Chipmunk in the trails and immediately reports for duty, in full rottie uniform.
I often stop, abruptly, to absorb the views. The upside-down checkmark stretching Vancouver from English Bay out to UBC. The Planetarium – do they still call it that? -- standing out like a freakishly huge white mushroom amongst the green of Kits Point. And of course, the three peaks, well, more like wilderness lumps, of Cypress, Grouse and Seymour mountains to the north.
I love the animals. The seagulls in their one-legged yoga poses -- why do they stand like that? The herons, balanced on branches in deep concentration, like Olympic platform divers. The mallard ducks who gossip non-stop in Lost Lagoon and the swans who don’t give a shit.
Yes, why don’t I come here every day? I don’t have the time? Well, that’s not true since I am self-employed with a flexible schedule. I should be working instead? Well, that’s a lie too because I know from past experience that I am much more productive and effective when I am inspired first. Is it self-indulgent? Well, if I think of it as a pleasure-only activity, then maybe, but is that wrong? What if I know that I will be a better person because of it?
Going to Stanley Park everyday is a guaranteed way to get inspired, to feel good. And there is no rational reason why I cannot do that every day. That means that the only thing stopping me, is me. What’s up with that?
By the time I reached my car at Prospect Point, I was committed to an idea. 30 days in Stanley Park. I will run, walk or cycle around it, or through it. At the very least, I will drive it or sit in it.
Then my smile widened in direct proportion to my expanding idea. I agree that the only way to be a better writer is to write. But I only had internal deadlines. No accountability. I loved blogs that committed to 365 days of something, anything. The writer practiced their craft everyday and the blogosphere held them accountable. A year in Stanley Park? Too much. How about a mini-blog? 30 Days in Stanley Park. Explore a story and write it in 500 - 750 words. Every day. I liked it. Oh, and it will keep my inner critic happy knowing that I’m “on assignment” and not indulging in frivolous activities.
I can’t sleep. I get to go to Stanley Park tomorrow.