Using Our Arms


“Top of the World” is this planet-shaped, 360-degree hill in Laguna Beach and my target when I hop on my bike at the trailhead down below—it’s my happy place. I pedal my way all the way up 1,516 feet, spend a few moments there and then pedal down whence I came. I do it on most days. To the west is the ocean, and to the east, Saddleback mountain range. A sunset or sunrise is available if you time it right. On a clear day, you can see downtown LA.


Sometimes I’m completely alone and get the bench to myself, which is the best. I eat a packet of GU, drink some coconut water, pray and just quietly “be” for a few minutes. I often make my morning call to my mom and dad from this spot. It’s perfect.


When I arrived the other day just after sunrise, I found trash marring my happy place. Most of it was near the garbage cans, but some of it was strewn all around. Noticing the beer cans, I assumed it was careless late-night partiers but then wondered if maybe it was hungry or curious possums or other animals.


I also found that “my” bench was occupied by a man I had recognized from other times. He was seated on the bench looking out at the Pacific. Apparently, this is his happy place, too.




I surveyed the trash. Disheartened and maybe a little up in arms, I decided my happy place was 67% less happy having it there. So I said to myself: Self, you have arms. Pick it up.


So I did.


The man noticed me grabbing the refuse and putting it in the can. He popped up and joined me. Together, it was tip-top shape in no time. We chatted, I found that his name was Ty, and we talked about what a lovely day it was and what a beautiful planet we have available to us here. It was so easy to clean things up, especially when we worked together.


We didn’t make the mess, but we didn’t assume we were powerless to clean this planet we share. Joining forces with a common goal magically bonded us. When next we see each other, I imagine we’ll remember that day we used our arms, made a change, and made a friend on top of the world.