Lost in thought with my little red wagon


When I was very young, one of my favorite things to do was to drag

my somewhat rusty red wagon out behind me along roads and trails. I

was looking, just looking, and walking.


I suppose I had some idea of treasure in mind, but it never really

mattered if I came home with the same empty wagon or one filled with

broken bits, snake skins, sticks, leaves, sometimes the odd abandoned

nest. My treasure was evidence that the world existed and I in it.


I suppose I still drag that wagon along behind me in some

figurative sense as I walk the byways of Laguna and elsewhere. The

walking and the “wagon” are how I chase the muse. They are a way of

solving mysteries with which my intellect struggles in vain. They are

where action lines up with being for me.

On a given day, the sound of pounding surf sweeps up from the

beach through the canyon, echoing off its sloping walls. It reaches

through my fogged sleep to waken me and I struggle through the mental


haze that envelops me to get up in the pre-dawn darkness. The canyon

is silent -- too early for the rich chorus of warbles and caws that

will soon greet the morning. Throwing on clothing, I brush my teeth,

grab a visor and glasses for later and set off down the hill.

Right away, the strong bitter smell of crushed eucalyptus globules

drifts up from beneath my feet. Though in the dark of the early

morning I cannot see them, the smell is a welcome, comforting part of

this canyon. These stately old trees continue their stubborn survival


against pests and city managers. The eucalyptuses in this canyon are

home to many birds, among them the crow, the red-tailed hawk and the

blue birds that give this canyon its name.

I continue walking and, lost in thought, it seems no time before I

am crunching bits of broken shell beneath my feet along the

shoreline. The warming sun strikes the back of my neck as it crests

the hills now behind me. The contrast of the cool, moist air that

lightly touches my skin and the heat of the sun creates an odd

sensation that I cannot quite define. Seagulls gather in a silent

congregation at the edge of the water, staring out to sea. Small

black flies swarm over a mass of strong-smelling seaweed washed up on

the sand. Soon the early morning will bring out the city crew with

their machinery to sweep the sands clear of this detritus.

Reaching Crescent Point, I pause to stretch and watch the sea

lions at their home on an offshore rock. I turn and, deciding to

explore the streets of the north end of town, move uphill to High

Drive. I think fondly of my friend Marielle, who once lived here and

of all that she taught me about being in the moment. The

spiky-armored trunk of a silk floss tree near where she lived gives

rise to an odd sight. Lush pink flowers fill the eastern half of the

South African native, while the western side bears only yellow-green

leaves. My feet don’t even break stride, but my mind pauses to ponder

the mystery of nature’s ways.

Crossing Broadway, I again hear the crash of waves at Main Beach.

I am now heading home and pick up my pace as I think of the full day

ahead. Before long, lost in thought, I lose all sense of self, of

time, of separation. I think of John Muir’s encouraging words of

being one with our surroundings. All of my senses have been fed on

this walk. How could I not feel full and enriched by this?

Before I know it, I am nearing home again, and I notice the

graceful droop of a eucalyptus branch near the ground to my left.

Blue-gray seed capsules nestle amid deep green sickle-shaped leaves.

A creamy white burst of flower emanates from one of the capsules. The

life of the tree continues to flourish.

As I arrive home, my figurative red wagon is filled with the

flotsam and jetsam of everyday life in this town. It is filled with

ideas and inspirations and dreams. The wagon is a magical container

for all that is possible now and in the future. So I will continue

walking and dragging this rusty relic along, if even only in my

mind’s eye.

Take your own walk. It can be true joy.

* CHERRIL DOTY is a creative living coach, writer, artist, and

walker who lives and works in Laguna Beach. Contact her by e-mail at or by phone at (949) 251-3883. Your thoughts and

questions are appreciated.