The Spirit of Cannery Row

This morning we walked to the beach and spent a long time standing on the sand, watching the surfers and kayakers and enjoying the cool mist of the water. I think that is the thing I missed the most.

The last time I was in Monterey was 4 years ago, right after I had graduated from college. I was driving around with a friend, trying to figure out who I was and what I was doing. I was young and carefree and had no idea what was in store for me. I’m enjoying the gentle whoosh of the ocean again, the sounds of the gulls, and I’m thinking about the other things I’ve learned from my brief time here.

Art courtesy of Stanislav Petrov

“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is worth a visit. It was once the epicenter of West Coast fishing and not only still echoes this with its many sardine factories and rustic canneries, but its historic downtown has been lovingly preserved. The city has even done a great job of preserving the bay and its shoreline.” I read this quote in a recent blog post and it made me smile. I know the author and I love her blog. It made me think, though, about what exactly is preserved and what that means. Preservation is often an easy thing to do; it takes little effort to save a historic building or to keep the ocean clean. The hard part is actually making that preservation stick. It takes a lot of effort and people to constantly be vigilant and to keep the good things alive and well. It’s a lot harder than it seems.

I drove around the neighborhood this morning and saw everything the author mentioned. It is so much more than a tourist trap; it’s a real neighborhood, a community of people who know each other, who look out for each other. It’s beautiful. It’s a quality of light, a dream, and a warning. I’m here in Monterey right at the cusp of a new year, thinking about the things I want to do, to change, to make better. It’s a New Year’s tradition, no doubt, but I’m taking it to heart this year. I’m thinking about what I want to preserve, what I want to save. I’m thinking about how I want to spend my time, how I want to spend my life, and what I can do to make it better. I’m thinking about how to take a city like Cannery Row and make it last. Or at least make my own little corner of the world well-kept and beautiful. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how to make life better. About how to make it happier, more just, and more true. I like to think about this a lot. It’s what I do.

I’m a New Years’ Resolution guy, and I’ve been reflecting a lot this week on what I want to do differently. What I want to preserve. I’ve come to realize that I have a tendency to let things go, to take them for granted, to not pay attention. I’ve started to think about the things in my life that I’m going to start valuing more. I used to think that I didn’t have a lot of those things, but I was wrong. I have a lot to be proud of and to cherish. I just have to work a little harder to hold on to them. I’ve also started thinking about what I want to leave behind. I’ve realized that I have a lot of bad habits, behaviors I don’t need, and things that I want to leave behind. I want to be a better person this year, and I will be. I am.

I’ve also come to realize that I’m not alone. People all over the world are thinking about how to be better people, how to be better families, how to make their communities better. It’s a New Year’s tradition, yes, but it’s also a human tradition. We want to make things better, to be better. It’s been an amazing experience to be here in the moment, to be in the middle of this. I feel connected to the world in a way that I don’t when I’m back home. When I’m at home, I’m too busy to be connected. I’m too busy to care. I’m too busy to care about the world or the people around me. I’m too busy being consumed by my own selfish pursuits. I can’t be that way anymore. I’m going to be better. I’m going to try to be better in every way.

So, I guess that’s my New Year’s Resolution: to be better. To make things better. To be a better person. To be better to my wife, to my friends, and to the world around me. To cherish the things in my life, to take care of them, and to make them last.

I’m going to let the spirit of Cannery Row lead me on this journey, to guide me as I learn to preserve, to let go, and to be a better person. I wish all of you the best as you too set out on this great adventure.

Make your resolutions and then stick to them. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. It’s worth every single second. I’ll be back next week with more stories and tales from California. Until then, be well. And be better.

Monterey, California, USA

February 2, 2022.

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