The unemployed — now even more self-absorbent

It’s crowded in my head these days as I search for enlightenment. That is, when I’m not searching for a job. Both Yoda and Grasshopper are here. And they’re not alone. Doubts, regrets and self loathing are here as well, flitting about like bats hunting insects in dusky autumn skies.

So how do I keep the bats at bay? The Japanese practice directed focus and meditation, but I just run. And with so much free time, I can run for hours, crushing those little devils with every step.

From my have-not hamlet of Hawthorne, Calif., I drive to the coast, just minutes away, and then step onto Los Angeles County’s sandy frontier. I like to say I practice urban “beachfare.” It’s a ring-less circus of high school parties, volleyball games, extended families, strolling lovers and even fishermen. Weekends are the worst. It’s as if the Southern California megalopolis finally had enough and vomits a portion of its masses onto the grubby, sad strip.

Yet somehow I find peace as I run this living, swarming obstacle course. The Pacific’s rhythmic roar overpowers the din within and without. Its green, briny waves curl and crash, and then spread out like a white foaming carpet onto the shore: A cosmic mahalo — both hello and good-bye — reminding me that my visit is a short one, at best.

With each uneven, soggy step, I tell my story. And the beach absorbs each word, acknowledging my existence with a long string of size 12 footprints, chronicling my efforts for a few moments, but then wiping them away.


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