This past weekend, I decided to show a friend who was new to LA the pristine joys of Manhattan Beach. We had made the plan before we had actually checked the forecast for the day (a habit that I know means I’ve been in the city too long). I had been hoping to take advantage of the last few weeks diving in without a wetsuit doesn’t remind me of the legendary Polar Bear swims of my good ole days of summer camp. Sadly, Southern California decided to deviate from the uniform of 75 and sunny. The overcast skies and slight breeze kept me on dry land, despite the surprisingly pleasant temperature of Pacific Ocean in September.
Needless to say, this was not the introduction to my favorite piece of coastline I had in mind. I may be a princess about the cold but I do really prefer leaving the beach smelling of salt and seaweed than seeing the sound of the waves lapping up against the shore as mere background noise. However, Angelinos are an entertaining lot and people-watching is undoubtedly a favorite past-time. I therefore wrapped myself tightly in my denim jacket and took in the cast of characters populating Manhattan that day.
There were six beefy men battling the waves atop a massive paddle board that kept our attention for a bit. They would use all their (rather impressive) arm muscle to maneuver the swells until nature inevitably won-out flipping over their absurdly large vessel. They all popped up afterwards looking like they’d just gotten off a rollercoaster and I definitely contemplated asking to hop on.
There were two children running around fully naked, though they had reached an age where the social acceptability of this was rather questionable. A group of beautiful thirty-somethings sat nearby, making sure the sand the children were flinging only hit each other. We amused ourselves trying to figure out whose children they were (none of the women looked like they could be the mother) or if group babysitting was what magazines would be calling a new brunch alternative in the coming months.
Next, my attention turned to the girl sitting eyes-closed and cross-legged by the base of the pier while someone moved around her snapping away on his iPhone. I pointed her out to my friend with a giggle with a derisive giggle.
Ok I’m a terrible person, I know, but God sometimes there is no greater joy than witnessing people fall into stereotypes as I look down from my imperious throne, judging what I see as their entirely unoriginal ways. There’s a satisfaction in watching people be sucked into the boxes I had already placed them in—a sort of sick pleasure that comes from feeling like you’ve figured out the people and the world around you. (Obviously I’m not immune to falling into boxes of my own—I have a Basic Bitch Jar on my kitchen table and an ounce of self-awareness. But I digress.)
But watching this girl gave the judgmental bitch in me an absurd pleasure. She simply checked the boxes I wanted for one of my favorite LA-staple boxes: the instagram yogi.
You’ll find this type of girl in various locales across the city that can look like you’re out in nature (without actually having to trek) when cropped to the square on your feed. She’ll contort herself into some kind of display of strength or flexibility and the resulting image seems to be intended to look as though some photographer happened to catch a majestic gumby-girl in her natural habitat and snapped a pic as she looks intently off into the distance, blissfully unaware of her audience.
Given where I was, and what was actually happening at the beach, I couldn’t help but find the whole display entirely ridiculous. The serene image that she would inevitably end up posting certainly didn’t encapsulate anything of what was actually going on. There was nothing serene about the dudes and their paddle boards or the uncomfortably naked children, all within 20 feet of her. With her placid expression and decided lack of a smile she just looked like she was taking herself so fuckin seriously.
So naturally, when the halcyon waves decided to come up and hit her in the back, I couldn’t help but bust a gut.
She was sitting in her placid posture, allowing the waves gently lap up against her lululemons—the picture of blissful meditation. But, the capricious ocean had other ideas and one particularly powerful wave came up and knocked the savasana right out of her. She jumped up, squealed, and checked out her now-soaking rear end. After a deep breath, she collected herself and sat resolutely back down, quickly resuming her meditative pose.
OK I’m not nice. I laughed. A lot. Basic yoga bitch gets hit by a wave—its classic comedy. And the fact that she didn’t laugh herself certainly convinced me she was taking herself waaaaay too seriously.
But, I am nothing if not prone to over-analysis and I did think about the girl later on. There was something about the resolute way in which she resumed her shoot—the single-minded-ness with which she approached getting the picture she had envisioned. The more I thought about it—the more I couldn’t help but admire it. That’s tenacity. Maybe she was too clueless to think about the people around her—unaware that I probably wasn’t the only person on the beach giggling at her misfortune. But more likely she just didn’t care. And I was jealous.
She had a goal. To many, it may have been a silly one, but she wanted that picture, and nature be damned she was getting it. Fuck the haters (me). She had a goal and she went after it, whether or not she looked utterly absurd in doing it. And she was going out and getting what she wanted. And of course the picture didn’t represent the beach as we were experiencing it. But she was showing her version of the truth. She was in charge. Creating her own reality to populate the feed of her followers.
So here comes the part where I learned something from yogi girl. Yeah, maybe she took herself a bit seriously (and maybe I’m taking her a bit too seriously with how dangerously close I came to calling her instagram ‘art’ back there—but that’s a debate for another post) Let’s be real, she was pretending to do Yoga at the beach. But nothing ever happened pretending you don’t care and waiting for opportunities to come to you.
It’s easy to sit on in judgement when you aren’t doing anything. When you’re sitting on the beach armed with a denim jacket and an I-don’t-care attitude shielding you it’s easy to judge. The yoga girl was ‘doing the most’ but she’s the one who will end up actually doing the most. But the fact is photographers aren’t wandering around looking for beautiful limber women who happen to be doing yoga, asking to take a picture of them then catapulting them to stardom. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that there’s going to be someone there trying to show the world how good you are. You have to do that yourself sometimes–create the opportunities yourself and show off your talents.
This might be the most millennial way humanly possible to come to the age-old realization you need to follow your dreams and forget what other people think—but I certainly can take a nod from the struggling yoga girl. If there’s something you want in life, whether it be a job, a relationship, a fit physique, a dope-looking instagram post, or a cookie you have to make it happen. Sometimes that requires having other people laugh at you and maybe getting your expensive athletic apparel a bit damp.
taking yourself too seriously is damaging, but not taking yourself seriously at all doesn’t do too much either. Yeah, I was able to laugh at her because she was putting herself out there, but putting yourself out there is the only way to get exactly what you want. By blocking myself off in an armor of denim and judgement, I get to laugh, but I also don’t get to do anything else. What the randoms on the beach think of you doesn’t really matter. My laughter doesn’t affect her daily existence whatsoever, but the fact that she can go take the pictures she wants? That does.
So I’ve decided to follow the wet-rat yogi’s example and start up the old blog again. Put myself out there. Risk getting my proverbial lulus wet. Gotta be the instagram yogi I wish to see in the world. Or something like that.