Good, Bad, and Ugly

[Exercise: Tell me what you thought was ugly. Be detailed.]

I used to see so much ugliness when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area. Confused by the comments from people who claimed to love San Francisco because of her beauty, I struggled to overlook the drug and urine-infested streets; the “fuck you” attitudes from people on the bus (sometimes from the drivers themselves); the homeless who collected cash each month from the City—who waited for you on street corners and in front of restaurants, palms upward and jabbing—and threw anything but dollar bills back in your face; the “me first” attitude from bullies, some of them teens, who walked the streets and drove the highways; convenient store workers who overcharged at the register and cheated you of change; the air of entitlement from everyone who seemed to be owed something. If you let your guard down, they’d convince you that you were the problem and that you were just born that way. Even the weather, biting and cold in August, felt ugly at times.

On the other hand, I also experienced tremendous love, beauty, hope and adventure during the ten years I called the Bay area my home. I met people wrestling with angels who genuinely sought to understand themselves. Some had such a strong desire for spiritual growth they were willing to try anything—Buddhism, Hinduism, Yoga, Shamanism, Spiritualism, Wiccan. Surrounded by individuals who were curious, open-minded, and truly accepting of others, I learned that non-discrimination clauses, such as, “We do not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, religious creed, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition (cancer-related and genetic-related) and disability, and the other bases prohibited by law.” were not merely words—they were values to live by. I encountered some of the most intelligent, passionate, and driven-to-succeed people who influence all the ways we live, work and play.

During this period my inner being was broken apart, exposed, analyzed, and reassembled, many times. I was helped, healed, and sent along a new path with well wishes, blessings and kisses. I forged deep bonds with friends who truly saw and loved me, whom I carry in my heart wherever I go. With all of its contradictions, the Bay area is a perfect place for those seeking the truth—about themselves and the world—the good, the bad and the ugly.