This week, after spending the past three months showing you the segments we filmed at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles (alternating them with the many Instructional videos shot in Boulder, Colorado), we are back on the road again. This week we launch a series of episodes -- of course we call them webisodes -- filmed in San Francisco's Gastro District, which is a one block neighborhood on 18th St. between Guerrero and Dolores Streets in the larger neighborhood known as The Mission District. We have a number of webisodes segments from this one block to share over the next few weeks and will, again, also be posting more of the instructional videos from Boulder in alternate weeks. We will then take you back down the California coast to visit some other great places we discovered. As with the Mozza segments, I'll post a short narrative each time to set some context, so I won't say too much more about them here.
However, what I do want to mention is how magical it was to be back on the road. Anyone who has ever gone on a road trip, and I'm sure this includes most of you, knows how it can change one's perspective on life. We went out without a script--just a camera and sound crew-- and filmed
spontaneously, much as any road trip goes "off script" and just happens. We had destinations in mind, and most, but not all of the people we visited knew we were coming, but what we filmed was totally in documentary style and in the moment. We had no idea, for example, when we went to film at Pizzeria Delfina that their street was, in fact, an exciting Gastro District, filled not only with a James Beard Award winning restaurant (Delfina) and it's sister pizzeria, but also with a unique gourmet market, an amazing ice creamery, and one of the best bakery cafes in America all within a few seconds of each other (well, we knew that Tartine was next door to Pizzeria Delfina but we didn't know we'd be filming there and would come up with some pretty exciting footage). In other words, we just let the magic of the road take over and tried as best we could to capture it as it happened -- and to hang on for the ride.
It's this serendipitous aspect of the road that fascinates me, something I discovered over forty years ago when I hitchhiked across the country for the first time. In spiritual writing, this Siddhartha-like kind of journey is called by many names but my favorite term for it is abandonment to Divine providence. And yes, it's both scary and exhilarating, Kerouacian, for those who, like me, were influenced by Jack Kerouac's book On the Road. What I mean is that it is like an adventure novel in which you get to play the main character. I look back on my first road trip as the moment in which I decided that I not only wanted to read about interesting people but to also become one. Abandonment is an important and significant type of initiatory empowerment; it implies taking control of one's life at the same time as realizing that it is totally out of our own hands. It implies a personal statement of trusting the beneficence of the Universe and seeking out our own unique place in it. When we have the luxury of looking back upon such adventures we often wonder how we had the courage -- or insanity -- to embark on them in light of where we're at now and the current state of the world but, regardless of the good or bad things that may have happened (and there are always some bad or scary moments) we realize how fully alive we felt when we were "on the road." For me, and I believe I am not alone in experiencing this, it was a life initiation, a passage, into adulthood and self-hood. I've never done a bungee jump off a bridge but I imagine that the experience is similar -- trusting that the cord will hold as we plunge headfirst into the unknown.
Now, I'm not equating our Pizza Quest adventures with that first initiatory road trip you may have taken but, when we went out with our cameras and only the broad strokes of a game plan, it brought back a flood of memories of my own first abandonment to Divine providence, and then the members of our crew shared their own similar stories. That was when we, our Pizza Quest team, realized that the story we are telling through our search for the perfect pizza has other layers of metaphoric meaning. I hope that some of this comes across as you watch the videos, and that you too have a sense of reconnection to those initiatory moments in your own life when you realized you are both a small piece of a big picture yet are also, simultaneously, even paradoxically, the main character in your own novel, living fully, as Aristotle puts it, at the center of your own good.