Years back before coming to the Palisades I discovered a book called A Year in Van Nuys by Sandra Tsing Loh. It is both humorous and sad. She describes perfectly the Van Nuys life, the dryness of the culture, the constant flight of police helicopters, and on and on. She longs to live in Provence, but ends up coming to terms with the fact she never will. I giggled when I read it. She captured it all so well.
I remember years ago visiting Boulder, Colorado. I loved it and dreamed of living there. I met many people who were transplants; their reason for moving there, "I fell in love with Boulder." Many people feel the same about the Palisades, but I have yet to hear anyone has ever moved to Van Nuys because they love it.
My street in this particular neighborhood is probably the starkest of all, very few parkway trees. Other streets are actually quite lush, and when the seasons change in autumn, the leaves turn a lovely gold. As described in Ms. Tsing Loh's book, brown lawns are commonplace in Van Nuys, and on my street badly maintained homes are the standard. It is not a well-loved street, but why should it be in a community that is not loved?
I put up my Little Free Library, but it's not going well. Since my street is not particularly walkable without trees and sidewalks, there is no one around to see it. As I said, this is not a well-loved street, and it shows. There are other streets it would do better on closer to the elementary school. I know if I had put it up in front of my family's residence in the Palisades by now it would have worked its magic.
Back in June I wrote a post called Happy Satoris about a spiritual shift that happened, an amazing grace kind of story. I mentioned in it that when I woke up the morning after, I was blown away by how blue the sky was. But there was much more than that. I began to notice beauty everywhere, even in "unlovable" Van Nuys. I also saw beauty in things not typically seen as beautiful. Everything radiated beauty.
I also started to experience Van Nuys as a friendly place, something I had never done before. I went into the post office or super market, and people went out of their way to be helpful. People on the street would talk to me who generally would be in a rush. When driving in my car, drivers were less rude and often smiled and let me through. What had changed? Certainly, it was not Van Nuys. It was me, and that change appeared to be having its effects in the places I went.
I had connected with the Eden within, and it seemed that the environment around me overnight began to reflect Eden back. It was a monumentally fascinating experience to see how truly pliable our environments can be.
Even though at the moment, I find myself at odds with Van Nuys, I do notice something on my street that is new, a flock of white doves. Every so often they appear and take flight around my house. The meaning of doves is appropo. And yes--a praying mantis did appear on my house the other day. Could that magic I experienced in the Palisades be everywhere?
Perhaps the flight of the Van Nuys doves calls me to make peace: peace with Van Nuys and beyond. How that peace will come about I do not know, but I am hoping my spirit is assisting to lead the way.
“Van Nuys was just this furnace that could easily destroy any creative thought that managed to creep into your mind.”