I spent some time in my last post talking about the idea of embracing the unknown and I would like to continue expounding on that theme a bit here.

Oftentimes we try to control every aspect of our lives, in hopes that our story will play out just the way we envision it. Rather than enjoying the present moment and the awesomeness of everything that already is, we get so caught up in dreaming of everything that could be. I’m not saying that having goals or making plans are inherently bad things, but there needs to be a healthy balance of looking to the future while still enjoying the ride.

My current musical obsession is posted above and is centered on this exact theme, mainly the John Legend inspired hook which repeats:

 

Where the end will go?
Will I ever know?
Heaven only knows.

 

Chicago up-and-comer Towkio gets huge assists on this track from Lido, Eryn Allen Kane, and Chancellor Bennett aka The Rapper. The group comes together to celebrate the unpredictable nature of life and dance in the face of the unknown rather than shy away from it.

The song’s intro and bridge feature Lido repeating “that’s why I love it, I love it.” The fact that life is a mystery excites him and forces him to wholeheartedly embrace the beauty of the present. Amen to that, brother.

Last week was my first time exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and I was fortunate to have my friends Colin and Steph take me in for an extended stay. Colin probably did the most planning on this roadtrip other than me, ensuring that I would have an action-packed few days in his new home. He also shares my love of climbing on anything we could get our hands on, so we were always on the lookout for mini adventures and great viewpoints.

My first afternoon was spent strolling around town, and I made an early stop by Alamo Square to check out the famous Painted Ladies.

  

I took a late afternoon trip up to Buena Vista Park to get a great view of the city and receive some more advice from an unexpected sign. San Fran’s hills make a casual stroll into a real workout but also provide for amazing sprawling city views in so many directions every few blocks.

       

Colin and I went for a quick hilly jog when he got out of work in time to check out the Lyon steps and make it to the Presidio to see the sunset.

 

The next day I ventured across the Golden Gate Bridge to check out some of the beaches in Marin. After seeing images of this bridge in movies and shows and books for years, it was amazing to finally be in its presence. A truly impressive spectacle of engineering innovation.

 

I first stopped by Kirby Cove where I got a great view of the bridge in its entirety from below and then continued on to the quiet Black Sands Beach, with some of the most comfortable sand I’ve ever touched. A great place to settle down for a few hours with a book in hand.

 

 

I continued north to explore Muir Woods National Monument where I found this brilliant quote from John Muir himself. After spending a lot of days in nature the last few weeks, this bit of insight really spoke to me and helped frame a lot of my own thoughts. Walking around the Woods in the presence of ancient giants had me feeling like I had been transported to a prehistoric paradise ala Jurassic Park.

 

I awoke the following day with the idea of going to Alcatraz Island, not considering that ferry tickets were a limited commodity that often sold out far in advance. I also happened to be three days out from the closing of a historic installation by revolutionary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, so it appeared my chances of securing a ticket were slim to none. Regardless, I woke up early and headed down to the Pier with high hopes and fortunitously stumbled upon the last available ferry ticket for the day. Being more informed about the ticket situation ahead of time could have certainly guaranteed me a spot, but the spontaneity of this early morning expedition made me appreciate the day even more.

I got some great views of the Bay Bridge and the Island on the short ferry trip.

 

Despite never being able to visit the site himself during the planning of the exhibit due to his inability to leave China, Ai Weiwei did a masterful job of utilizing various spaces. He used a variety of mediums to play with ideas of freedom and imprisonment. One room had a floor covered in Lego tiles depicting the faces of political prisoners from across the world, from Nelson Mandela to Martin Luther King to hundreds of lesser known artists, writers, activitists, teachers and others who have been jailed for their beliefs. It was a sobering moment for me and reminded me to fully appreciate my ability to roam freely for the day. The Lego piece did a brilliant job of colorfully putting a name and a face to fellow humans who have otherwise been silenced.

In addition to the thought provoking art spread throughout the grounds, walking around the former prison provided some amazing views, and the gardens around the Island were an unexpected treat.

 

Our original plan for the weekend was a camping trip at Yosemite, but storms in the area caused us to make a last minute change of plans. Despite our excitement for the anticipated Yosemite trip, we decided to focus on what we could control and make the most out of a weekend closer to San Fran.

Colin and I spent a morning attempting to surf in Bolinas Bay. It was my first time on a board, and despite not getting great waves or standing up, I could instantly see why so many are attracted to the peaceful yet thrilling chase. I can’t wait to try again sometime soon, maybe once I get feeling back in my arms from all that paddling.

We continued north to Point Reyes, where we did an awesome hike to Allamere Falls, a hidden waterfall that flows right onto the beach.

 

We made it back to San Fran just before sunset and decided to get some better views of the Golden Gate for ourselves…

And then made a quick trip to the Sutro Baths to do some more climbing and watch the sun fade below the horizon out on the Pacific Ocean. A picture perfect end to a 12 hour day of surfing, hiking, climbing, and exploring.

We spent the next day exploring some more corners of town like the incredible Palace of Fine Arts, and convincing Steph to join us in some monkeying around.

I got a chance to walk around Palo Alto, checking out some walking trails and also the stunning beauty of Stanford’s campus.

Colin and I spent my last night in town at his rock climbing gym, making sure I spent any last energy reserves I had left before departure. I can’t thank him and Steph enough for having me and for putting together such a diverse week of excellent activities. Just check out the whiteboard list Colin made for me and that I tried to make a dent in each day. I’m glad there’s a few I didn’t hit, just means I’ll have to make a return visit sometime soon.

A big thanks to college buddies Kristen, Bahja, Justyn, and Amit for hanging with me while I was in town. Kristen was particularly gracious in having us over to the adult playground that is the Dropbox offices.

I didn’t get any pictures to do it justice, but my cousin Ben took me to the Top of The Mark for some drinks with a spectacular nighttime view of the entire city. It was great catching up and getting a unique look at the sprawl of the town.

I was also lucky enough to have some delicious homemade pizza at the home of my high school friend Alex and her boyfriend Eddie. We had some great conversation about favorite American destinations and the lifelong pursuit of fufillment over Alex’s Brooklyn-inspired pies. Another wonderful example of friends making me feel right at home in a new city.

Thanks for the love everyone!

Near the end of his stellar guest appearance on Heaven Only Knows, Chance spits:

 

Not into nodding my noggin,
neglecting the detail

 

This line is a perfect example of his astoundingly advanced alliterative abilities, and also carries an important message. Don’t sleep on the details to be found all around you. Smell those flowers, listen to the vibrant buzzing of the city or nature that surrounds you, appreciate the freshness of that apple as you bite into it, or just momentarily get lost in the sprawling array of intersecting lines in the palm of your hand. I don’t know what’s coming next. But I’m glad to be here, now. That’s why I love it, I love it.