I’m riding my bike along West Cliff, a beautiful bluff overlooking the Monterey Bay. I do this pretty regularly. I love my bike. I love the bay. You never know what you’re going to see. Whales? Otters? Dolphins? Lately, there have been tons of shore birds. They migrate here in winter. So I’m riding along, and, as usual, I pass this spit of asphalt that juts out from the bike path and overlooks the bay. It’s what’s left of an old road or bike path, one I assume got washed away at some point. I often pull over and sit on it awhile. It’s like having my own little bayside deck. It also looks down on the beach where Dixie and I first kissed twenty-eight years ago, so it has special meaning. Today, however, I’m planning to ride past. The exercise feels good, and I’m feeling kind of hurried. So much to do! That is, until I see something turquoise sitting on the asphalt promontory. Trash? I think, and pull over. I cannot abide trash at this sacred site.

It turns out not to be trash. It’s a river rock painted bright blue with the word Compassion on it. I get off my bike, and take a moment to meditate on why, on this day, I needed to see that word. There are so many reasons! Compassion for my friends who are going through tough times, compassion for my country that seems like it’s going to hell in a hand basket, compassion for people who seem to be steering it in that direction, and lastly, compassion for myself because sometimes I can be so un-compassionate. Especially with all the talk—or lack of talk—about climate change. I get so angry. Why aren’t we doing more? Why aren’t we doing everything possible to abate this looming tragedy? Why aren’t I?

Hands in the air, I stretch up to the sky, allow myself to feel the bigness of this thought. An old man passerby shouts to me, “Hey! You have a bright future!” Not what I expected to hear. I turn and laugh. “I hope so!” I say, to which he responds, “No, you do! I can see it! You’re on the right track!”

But how much future do we really have? The climatologists believe not much. Still, standing out there on West Cliff, looking out at my beautiful bay, I want to believe in a bright future. I want to believe that as a species we’re going to figure this out. There’s so much a stake! The old man’s words were also a reminder of how powerful an act of kindness is. With just those few words, he made me feel hope. So, I may feel powerless when it comes to stopping climate change, bigotry, stupidity but that doesn’t stop me from walking with compassion, from treating those I pass with kindness.

So blessings to you, my friends. May your future—be just minutes from now, or years, or centuries—be bight and shiny. And remember, live the love, it’s all we’ve got.

Another rock seen on my ride