The Prayer for Serenity

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

As I began to pack-up and leave DC I heard many people shocked that I was just picking up and moving to the opposite coast, to a city I’d never spent more than 3 days in, where I had no family and no friends. I brushed their gaping maws aside, talking comfort in the knowledge that I had moved 10 times in 5 years, that my connection with friends is sadly shallow enough that I can cut all ties and start again, and that I have an attitude that can handle whatever is thrown my way. After-all when I moved across the country to DC, knowing almost no one, I lived with a household of gay, pot-smoking, partiers, then I moved in with craigslist roommates, and eventually found my way into one of the coolest apartments of my life. If I could do that once, doing it again should be simple.

Well San Francisco is NOT D.C. I have spent most of my month-and-a-half here hating the city. It smells like pot, piss, and hobo all rolled into a scent as putrid as the pit of hell. Between the bums kicking at my shins as run to catch the bus, and the charity muggers (progressive campaign donation seekers) the sidewalk are a hazard to my sanity. There is a lack of cleanliness and sterility in favor of “natural, organic and local” that doesn’t jive well with my sense of Americana. The architecture is a hodge-podge of stuco’d walls all shades of pale that cover every square inch of the city but are never more than 3 stories tall.

As you can tell from my thoughts above I miss DC and haven’t enjoyed San Francisco as much as I should. It was while i was in New York City that I started my most recent phase shift and, like most things in my life, I can thank my mom for this one. Knowing my thoughts on the matter she told me I had made the decision and as such should open myself up to the positives San Francisco has to offer.

Then on Friday afternoon my manager led a yoga class that started with us breathing life into an idea of something we wanted to accomplish in our lives, something that would be our focus for not only the weekend but beyond as well. To be perfectly honest I had difficulty not smirking at the Eastern philosophy mentality but I decided what the heck. Among 1 other thing that I might discuss in a later post, I breathed life into the feeling of focus and peace, it wasn’t until half-way through the session that I found the right word for what I needed. “Serenity”.

I wasn’t thinking about my attitude towards San Francisco but rather about a project I have in the works but today I felt an unexpected peace and calm throughout the day as I tried to live and simply be, in my neighborhood which is known for its hispanic culture, gangs, food, and nightlife. As I ran through my list of chores for the day I quickly realized my ties to the local culture and how it was relaxing when before it had been tormenting me.

As I did my laundry at the local laundromat I had few, but kind and simple enough interactions with people. At Phat Phillies for lunch I was recognized by name and felt enriched by the connection. As I got my haircut I made a new friend in my barber Debbie whose 21 year-old son is heading off to college and who, herself, helped give out water to members of other Native American tribes who had journeyed to D.C. to express their concerns before Congress a few years ago.

I then went on a date that started at a local coffee shop and then ended up at a tucked-away dog park where we sat and enjoyed people-watching and talking. For dinner I went to my new pizza place just down the road from me where they are starting to recognize me and know what I like. All of this because my Mother told me to shift my perspective and my Yoga class convinced me to focus on a single word, “Serenity”.

I cannot change the smell of the city. I cannot change the filth all around. I cannot remove the hobos and canvassers. I cannot change the architecture. What I can do is change my attitude and see the other side of everything, yes, even in San Francisco can good be found.

UPDATE: I originally decided to write this and highlight the Serenity I had after a random friend of a friend of my roommate’s who was over here for an after-party offered to give me a line of coke in my own flat. But even better now, to highlight the level of peace and tranquility, I offer this. As I was writing the words above with my headphones in and the party moved up to my flat, a random guy no-one knew stole my brand-new xbox and I am okay with that. How weird is that?

  • Matthew Plooster

    Wow, David, I’m very impressed (and inspired!) with your new outlook. A good dose of perspective and understanding to accept that which we cannot change and the empowering drive to change that which we can change is kind of that secret to happiness. Well, I’d say that your new attitude certainly proves it! Best of luck as you continue to adjust to your new home.