Today my family and I went geocaching out on the California coast. We first passed by Alice’s Restaurant, and went over the mountains toward the ocean and Highway 1.
Everyone in the car had an ulterior motive: my husband wanted to find as many geocaches as possible, our kids wanted to be on good behavior to increase their chances of being able to adopt a cat, and I was looking for something to blog about. Today’s UU Lent word is “humility.” I had it in mind.
There were quite a number of different photos from our trip that I could use to illustrate humility. For example, there’s this one, a little model of a bike off to the side of Alice’s Restaurant. The road over the mountains is scary and difficult enough in a car. Yet many people bike it. Some of them on regular bikes, even, without motors. I resist the urge to ask, “what’s wrong with these people?” (Humility, remember?)
There’s also this cache by the side of the road that we DNF’d (shorthand for Did Not Find).
Or this one, at the bottom of a huge rock that can make you feel small.
When I started my PhD program at Stanford they took the new grad students to San Gregorio for a get together to introduce everybody. I remember that gathering surprisingly well, it was like everything in that first confusing, overwhelming year: the sun was too bright, the beach was too hot. I had really no idea what kind of work I wanted to do in lab and people kept asking me that question. And even with all that, it was still more beautiful than any place I had ever been. Grad school is certainly a place where you learn humility, if you didn’t have it before.
Humility is a good thing to have, but none of these examples seems quite the right thing.
Further down the coast, at Bean Hollow State Beach, we found a geocache near some Tafoni on “the other Pebble Beach.” Tafoni are natural rock cavities produced by cavernous weathering in rocks and boulders. Or, as I once referred to them back in grad school, “weird rocks.”
Half a lifetime ago, I stood by the same tafoni without knowing what they were. When I turn my eyes from the tafoni, what I see are the ocean waves, the waves that wore those tafoni into the rocks over unimaginable eons of time.