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Mar 9-15, 1998

I'm Perfect and So Are You

jack carrollby Jack Carroll

My office is in Laguna Beach, CA, one of the most beautiful and comfortable places on the planet. Whenever business overwhelms me and my head has remained too long in the Southern Hemisphere, I look out of my office window at the sun glistening on the gently rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean, and almost instantly lose the gloom and remember my good fortune.

In addition to 43 art galleries, one of the most interesting and unique features of Laguna is an elderly gentleman with a gray beard who spends most of his waking hours on a bench at the hub-corner of Forest Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. All day long--from this bench--he greets an unending stream of visitors, friends, and neighbors warmly as they pass, and engages them in friendly conversation.

He is the Laguna Beach greeter (a tradition that goes back almost 50 years in town). To the best of my knowledge, no one pays him any money for greeting people. He earns his way in life by hosing down the sidewalks in front of the shops on Forest and Pacific Coast Highway early every morning. He does what he does because he loves to do it, and to watch him for 10 minutes is to watch a human being who has found his perfect place in the universe.

It is difficult not to be completely enchanted by the man. As you walk by his bench, he always looks you straight in the eye and smiles like an angel. Three weeks ago, I smiled back and said "Hi, how are you."

He smiled back and said so quietly that I barely understood him, "I'm perfect, and so are you."

"I beg your pardon," I said.

"I'm perfect, and so are you." Louder but still quiet, easy and comfortable, with eyes that were conscious, piercing, and alive.

So, next time you're in the neighborhood and need a boost, stop by and ask the greeter how he is, and listen carefully to his response. He'll probably tell you that he's perfect and so are you.

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else. —Attributed to Yogi Berra, baseball player.

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