Positive Changes in Santa Barbara

As I began to lose hope, the universe starts throwing signs my way that things will work out in the end…

I had just left an unhealthy living situation with a new friend in a small town right outside of Santa Barbara. I was feeling kind of gloomy at the lost hope of a wonderful situation. I found myself walking down State Street one evening thinking I could really use the embrace of a community about now. Realizing this was not a possibility on such short notice, and so late in the day, I decide to head back to the van to find a place to sleep for the night. Across the street from the van I notice a storefront that says SGI Buddhist Center with a small sign hanging on the door: “Open, Come on in”.

“What are the chances of that?” I think to myself.

I head in and ask the man at the desk if they were holding a meditation or something. He invited me to join a community meeting that was going on. I enter a room full of joyful people who are 100 percent engaged with the woman speaking in front. I take a seat in the back and begin to take in her story. She is telling us of a girl who left an unhealthy family situation in India. She was unhappy and repressed and so risked it all to come to the United States and chase her dreams. She took this brave leap and it paid off. She is now traveling the world spreading peace, wisdom, and the Buddhist philosophy. She was even able to heal her family situation back home.

“Okay… this just keeps getting weirder.” I think as I make multiple connections to my current situation. “What are the chances that I stumble upon this community of peace seekers right as I ask the universe for just that AND they are telling a story of a girl leaving an unhealthy situation to travel and create change?!” This was way too compelling to be a coincidence.

And it gets better. Chatting with members of the group after the meeting I learned that many had been on journeys similar to my own. There was a women who lived out of a camper van and traversed the country taking odd jobs along the way and a girl around my age who lived in the mountains out of a Volkswagen who had just recently moved into a house boat on the marina. We had many stories and lessons to share with one another.

And things continued to look up from there. It was as if every time I began to lose hope the universe would begin throwing sings in my face as if to say “NO! You are on the right path.”

I found a really beautiful spot to live in the mountains. It was a secluded ledge I could carefully drive out on that overlooked a breathtakingly deep valley below. I was surrounded by mountains on every side. The stars were piercingly bright out there. I even hiked down into the valley one day and up another mountain to get an outside view of my camping spot. To my delight I rose to the peak just in time to view a dense fog roll in right behind my van. It was quite the sight to see.

The next day I spent riding tandem bikes along the ocean with girls I met in town. That night I spent running down the beach in full embrace of a tropical storm blowing gusts of wind in my face and dumping buckets of rain above my head. We risked running out into the ocean stark naked for a moment among the blinding strikes of lightening shooting down all around. It was a truly exhilarating and freeing experience.

The night after that I met an ex-actor going to law school in a neighboring town who was living out of a camper at a site near the shore. We shared drinks, fries, and tons of laughs at the longest bar ever built in California and were surely the life of the scene that night.

I met a traveler from my hometown who enjoyed breathtaking views of the city with me from the top of the courthouse. I was granted the opportunity to stay with a 91 year old man who still travels out of his VDub from time to time. He had a beautiful home adorned with vines, plants, and pictures of past travelers he has hosted. He shared many wonderful stories of his past and current escapades.

I met a traveler from Australia who was traveling farm to farm studying permaculture. In the short time I spent getting to know him he was waiting for a bus to the airport. His next destination: South America. I even met a man at the park who taught me to play tennis and then treated me to some California wine at the Alligator Grill. I made a friend on the beach who brought me to see his hometown’s abandoned cement amphitheater. I had the opportunity to check out some of his artwork back at his place and was blown away by the talent of this young man.

I volunteered stomping through mud for an adobe building project at the local campus and got to interact with rescued hawks, owls, and falcons. Craziest of all I had the chance to reconnect with a lad I had picked up leaving the Rainbow Family National Gathering in John Day, Oregon. (Be sure to check out my previous post about my time in the woods with this lovely group of souls!) He had been booking it down the dirt road trying to make it on time to Rainbow court. I offered him a ride and because he arrived on time he got out of his ticket scott-free. We spent time checking out wine bars, forests, and taking walks on the beach talking about all the wonders of life and living on the road. My favorite memory was sitting in the park listening to him jam out on the keyboard.

I even got to enjoy a weekend of hiking, dancing, and rope swinging from mountain tops when a dear friend from back home came to visit. We were graced with free drinks, hats, and plenty of friends during our night on the town. And we spent our final day together exploring a quaint Danish village known for its excellent wine making abilities. The night before she left we sat on the beach enjoying the sunset. It was sad for both of us to be saying goodbye to Santa Barbara, and of course to each other. But we both knew we had great things ahead of us.

The lesson learned from this experience? Things always work themselves out; everything is happening for a reason and you just have to trust in that. The universe would not let me lose hope. And so I ask the same of you. Whatever it is you are going through keep your head up. Because things will work out in the end. And if things don’t feel right, that simply means it’s not the end of your story yet.

Check back to see where my adventure has taken me next… only a few more stories until I finally get to embark on my quest to study intentional living in the homes of the communities themselves and help to spread awareness about alternative lifestyles and intentional living!

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