The waterfall roared down the cliffs on the opposite side of the canyon. Though it was almost noon, the air was still chilly. I rubbed my hands together. In many places, watching a waterfall on a cold morning would be pleasant but not noteworthy. However, I was in Malibu, California. When I arrived earlier that morning, frost lined the ground and icicles dripped from the trees.
Sadly, the trail bent away from the waterfall, keeping hikers at a distance. Years ago I’d had no idea that dozens of waterfalls such as this one existed near Los Angeles and had I known, I wouldn’t have given it much thought. More recently I might have recklessly caromed down the steep, brushy slope and forged my way up canyon to experience the power of the waterfall at point blank range. Now, the disappointment I felt at missing a closer look was offset by gratitude at being in the middle of nowhere on a cold, clear morning and the excitement of knowing that no matter how much I explored, there was always more to see.
Three and a half decades into my life, I didn’t claim to have all the answers, but I felt as if I was finally learning how to decide which treasures to claim and which to leave for others to enjoy. I was figuring out how to let work and play co-exist, how to tend to myself while remaining empathetic to the needs of others.
Still, there were times when I saw a prize that made me want to throw logic out the window. As I watched the waterfall, I felt as if I might be experiencing such a moment. Who could imagine such a raw, wild spot so close to the epicenter of all that which is produced and packaged? Less than an hour from one of the world’s largest cities was this spot that had barely been touched by human hands, looking the same as it did hundreds of years ago.
The urge faded; today, seeing the waterfall from afar would be enough. There would be other trophies. Rising to my feet, I dusted the dirt off my palms, slung my backpack over my shoulder and continued along the trail.