I’d been studying for the Professional Engineering exam for the past two months. I basically spent the weekends cooped up in my room, solving practice problems and going crazy. A week before the exam, I promised myself that once the exam was over, I’d drive up to a park in Malibu and spend some moments to reflect and write in my journal.
I took the exam last Friday. It was a relief to have it over with, but the following day, I knew that I couldn’t completely destress until I fulfilled my promise to myself. So I took some coffee in a thermos and hit the road. First I spent about an hour driving through the winding Malibu canyon roads. Then I stopped by Malibu Bluffs Park on the way back. My parents and I used to go to this park often, but I hadn’t been back here since my childhood. As with most childhood memories, the park turned out to be a lot smaller than I remembered, but it’s a fantastic lookout onto the ocean, and the trees and bushes were exploding with birds.
I spent some moments staring off at the ocean, sipping my coffee, as I caught glimpses of dolphins swimming past. Then, walking down the little path, I noticed several ground squirrels going into and out of their little nests in the ground. I had a bag of hazelnuts and almonds with me, so I tossed a nut towards a squirrel to see if he’d take it. He didn’t come back. I sat myself down next to one of the nests where I’d just seen a squirrel go in, tossed a hazelnut near the entrance, and watched. Nothing happened.
The squirrel didn’t come out. I gave up on him ever coming out, but I didn’t feel like getting up, so I started experimenting with my camera and taking pictures of boring little objects on the ground. I must have spent at least fifteen minutes sitting there, eavesdropping a little on people’s conversations as they walked past behind me. I focused on the ants crawling around, and was taken back to my childhood, when I used to spend long periods of time watching ants and building bridges for them; lame introverted only child entertainment. Diverting my attention from the general scenery of the park towards something on a very small scale felt refreshing and helped clear my mind. As I was reflecting on that, I heard a squeal.
The squirrel had poked his head out and was making noise to ensure that I wouldn’t come near. He emerged from his hole, took the nut, and went back in! After that breakthrough, he came out each time I tossed a nut in his direction, which allowed me to catch some nice shots of him. Bonding with the little fellow was well worth the wait. I’m glad I didn’t get bored sooner and walk away.
I never did get a chance to take out my journal and write in it, but what was I thinking? What I ended up doing turned out to be much more relaxing and satisfying.