Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Venturing into Ventura: What a giant sand dune taught me about life and searching for love again.


Venturing into Ventura: What a giant sand dune taught me about life and searching for love again.

I had originally drafted this piece as another showcase of the place I call home, but in the light of recent events, this blog entry has taken on an even greater meaning and a far deeper, soul-searching experience. I dedicate this one to an earned friend who helped me discover the light in my soul again. Thank you for everything.

Recently, I had the unique opportunity to take a day off my normal schedule and travel into Ventura County. It had been the first time that I had been that far north on Pacific Coast Highway since I had returned home to Southern California this past February.

In fact, had been so long since I had been up here that I had forgotten what that section of road looked like. But on the side of the highway, right past Malibu on the Los Angeles/Ventura County line, there is Great Sand Dune, a giant, naturally occurring sand dune that stretches hundreds of feet up a hill. It's a popular place for many beach goers to get a workout en route to a great view of the Pacific Ocean. Cardio junkies, you have been warned.

In my case, it was a destination that soon became my personal allegory for physical and emotional demands of a seeking a new relationship after the recovery from a long one that ended painfully. Normally, I don't delve into this topic here on Two-Wheeled Tourist, but seeing that it's not the first time that I've been wounded in battles pertaining to the heart, I give you a series of lessons that came from a recent eye-opening, healing adventure.

And you thought I was just going to talk about a giant mound of sand. That's not how I roll here.

Lesson 1: Approaching matters of the heart is scary. Do it anyway. At first, the sight of this dune was amazing and yet intimidating at the same time. I had never climbed up a sand dune before in my life, let alone one this steep. It was exciting to take those first steps with the encouragement of another. I fed off of that energy and reassurance that it was a risk worth taking. Hell, this sand dune had been conquered by thousands of people before me. I was no different, a slightly timid thrill-seeker like many others before me. Besides, what good would it have done me to have said "no" and live with the regret of never seeing this experience through? It was enough of an adventure to even get to this place! Why stop now when it just felt right?

Lesson 2: What I needed for the climb was within me. In other words, sandals were pretty useless on this hill and my game face was in order to work my way up it. In comparison to trudging up a hill of snow (I've had the opportunity to do that a few times in my life), climbing up sand is much harder. In some places, it was packed down enough for me to place my full body weight into a step, gaining a lot of ground in the process. In others, the sand was so loose that a step propelled me a little forward but slid my feet back several inches. The ascent was gradual and varied, but with the goal of reaching the top in my midst, there was nowhere to go but up. I had to rely on persistence and my wits, get over the intimidation, and focus on what was in front of me.

Halfway up...the view was nice, but the best was yet to come.
Lesson 3: The most breathtaking rewards came from the willingness to take that chance, put in the effort, and move forward. The climb was a bit grueling and did a number on my body, but I set my own pace, stopped to recollect thoughts and rested when necessary. But the destination! I turned around to face that ocean, the breeze in my face and the heavenly sight to behold. Time stood still in this picturesque view of the Pacific Ocean.

The fatigue in my legs and the soreness in my lower back faded into non-existence. I caught my breath again as the fresh sea air filled my lungs. Pulling out my phone to take a few shots for posterity (and did this place no justice), I reflected on the blessings that brought me up here, thankful for that moment frozen in time for as long as it was going to last.

Lesson 4: The high doesn't last forever, and it can hurt on the way down. But it was worth taking it in the first place. The climb in the sand was a great challenge, but the descent had its moments too. I allowed gravity and a guiding hand to help me "fall" gracefully until I made it to the bottom, still standing on my own two feet. It may have been 80°F in the air on that late morning, but the sand burning between my toes said otherwise, as if it were reminding me that leaving that magical moment was going to sting a little bit. The uncomfortable sensation was enough to remember its existence it but not enough to leave a permanent scar. I didn't cringe because I knew it was part of the experience, but then again, I have a high tolerance for pain that came with a lot of practice. Oh, but for the sheer joy of this experience! I would do it over again in an instant.

Lesson 5: I'm a stronger person because of it. Wow, I had just conquered a giant sand dune and lived to tell the tale. I relished in the personal triumph of this feat, for it one that nobody else could ever take from me. But it wasn't just the physical action of this feat. At an emotional and a spiritual level, I had reached a place that I thought I'd never see again after the end of my last long relationship. I place these moments on the shelves of experience and the happiness that came from it in the libraries of my fondest memories.

Lesson 6: The climb isn't easy, but I can make it on my own and share that adventure with someone else. The journey to the top had to begin with the decision to take that first step. I had to take the time throughout this difficult year to find my bearings, reaffirm my resilience, and above all, love myself again and forgive the past. My reward was the many unforgettable moments that were gifted to me. Emotion is organic. It cannot be forced or willed - it just has to be. Wherever that goes is up to destiny.

Lesson 7: Searching for love is a journey of chance. Be vulnerable when it feels right. I took this Ventura County adventure in a very uncharacteristic way for me. Believe it or not, I wasn't on my beloved Eleanor that day; I was in a car lost somewhere in deep conversation with another heart en route to this place. Unlike my past solo expeditions, there were no internal monologues inside my helmet or music drowning out the noise of my exhaust. I hung up 20 pounds of motorcycle gear and exposed my soul to the winds of chance. The ending result wasn't what I wished it would've been, but I am firm believer that when the time is right, things will fall into place the way they're intended.

To the next metaphorical sand dune that crosses my path, know that I'll be ready for you. To the physical sand dune that I had to climb to know that I could embark on this life challenge, I thank you for that experience and for the light that has rekindled within me. I'll never stop believing that I'll see this grand view again, and perhaps I can share it with that one right person, whoever that may be.

Never stop hoping. Never stop loving. Embrace your humanity, and enjoy the view.

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