Saturday, July 14, 2012

Making the Most of our Assets

An asset can be seen as a liability if people don't see clearly. Maybe, with luck, we can change the way our city views this one.

Growing up in California's Santa Clara Valley, I learned so little, as I have mentioned here, about the history and economy of the region. It is as if, since we were in a sort of paradise, no one wanted to break the spell.

I think in this way, my exile from and return to the region has been a blessing. I've been able to see it anew and love it anew in all its extraordinary beauty.

Returning to the valley, I have fallen back in love with its simple things. Its climate, its history, its beauty, its wildlife, and its produce. I can't believe I found myself making jam this summer, but there you are. I did it and found it is a lot of fun. Especially the result! (Just gave a jar to Mr. G who is going to come back Monday and fix my back door. Hooray! Jam works magic--believe me.)

I never thought I would spend last winter fighting a battle to save the old Gilbert Smith orchard that surrounds my hometown's city hall. In the first place, it never occurred to me anyone would ever want to plow it under.

Then, when I heard one local leader call the orchard a "sub optimal use of the land," I realized it might be helpful to hit the re-set button on what exactly is "optimal" in an increasingly over-developed little town like mine.

And that led me to sign a contract to write a book for the History Press about the region. It is a wonderful story and I hope I can make as interesting to other people as it is to me. Fame and success certainly bring with them many challenges: in my case it always seemed as if the real asset was the work, not the residual by-products of the work, but I know others looked at it differently. My previous work has always led me on to new and fascinating projects, and for that I am very thankful.

I'm constantly reminded of how certain people respond to others' success by the severe outbreaks of schadenfreude I see. What a waste of time that is!

It has taken a long time to come 'round to this understanding--probably much too long--but I've finally figured out that the most important things we do in life are not about taking--they are about giving.

Once you've figured that out, life is like a good jam recipe-it really starts to gel.

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Janet Grunst said...

Sounds like you spent too much time in the past with the wrong folks. True friends will applaud our successes, encourage us when life gets rough, and confront us with love and truth when we're heading in the wrong direction.I'm so glad you are finding joy since returning home. I remember, when we both lived there "back then" that there was a height limit on buildings,and even some restrictions on sidewalks, all to keep Los Altos charming. I enjoy remembering the good times and the special people I met in that delightful village.

Robin Chapman said...

We need you to come here and be on the planning commission!