California surf ‘n’ stoicism


For the last two weeks, I’ve been in California, on holiday. First real holiday I’ve taken in four years, and it was great.

I started off in San Diego, trying to learn some surfing at Pacific Beach. I did OK, made some progress, and got some exercise after six months of eating junk food and hardly exercising at all. It felt great splashing around / falling off my board in the sea, with all this wildlife around – one morning, there was a seal playing on my left, fish underfoot, pelicans flying overhead, and in the distance, three grey whales blowing water.

The weather was amazing. They call it winter there, but at times it was over 20 degrees centigrade, which is hotter than it usually is in the UK in summer. And the sunsets were out of this world, just jaw-droppingly beautiful.

While in San Diego, I went to stay with Erik Wiegardt, am important figure in the Stoic community. He set up the Stoic yahoo group, as well as the Stoic Registry (www.thestoicregistry.org), whose monthly newsletter I edit. He and his wife Amielle were kind enough to have me to stay, and we had some good chats about where stoicism is going today and how we might be able to help it develop.

While there, I sent off a couple of pitches for my planned book on Stoicism to US agents. I think California in particular is ripe for the Stoic message.

After a week or so staying at the Crystal Pier hotel, in a beach hut with the ocean in front of me, I took the Pacific Coaster amtrak train up to Huntington Beach, Surf City itself, to have a look and a surf. I wasn’t that taken by it – it had all these oil rigs just off shore.

Then I took the train up to Anaheim, and went to Disneyland for a day, which was surreal animist fun. The whole Disney trip is so animist – dancing candles, marching broomsticks, singing bears, zombie pirates. All the folklore of the world has been taken, recycled, and merchandised. Smart fellow.

Then I carried on up to LA, staying at the London on Sunset Strip, caught up with an old friend, and did alot of shopping.

Now back to the UK for work, deadlines and tax returns.

Still, I’ll keep the memory of the sun, surf and stoicism alive. Wouldn’t it be amazing, to have a California Institute of Stoicism, where students studied in the morning and surfed in the afternoon?

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