Every Person's True Calling

At this point the realization suddenly flared within me like a sharp burst of flame: everyone has his “task,” but it is never a task he can choose for himself, can define and carry out however he wants. It was wrong to want new gods, it was utterly wrong to want to give the world anything! For awakened human beings, there was no obligation–none, none, none at all–except this: to search for yourself, become sure of yourself, feel your way forward along your own path, where it led. – This realization upset me deeply, and that was what I gained from the whole experience. I had often toyed with ideas and images of my future, dreaming up roles to play: as a writer, for example, or prophet, or painter, or whatever it was. All that meant nothing. I was not put on earth to write, or preach, or paint–and nor was anyone else. These things were only secondary. Every person’s true calling was to arrive at himself. He might end up a poet or a madman, a prophet or a criminal–that was of no concern of his; in the end it was meaningless. His concern was to find his own fate, not a random one, and to live it out, full and complete. Everything else was a half-measure, escapism, fleeing back into the ideal of the masses–conformity and fear of what was inside yourself. This new picture rose up before my eyes, terrifying and sacred, foreshadowed and suspected a hundred times, maybe even spoken out loud many times, and yet only now truly experienced. I was a roll of Nature’s dice, thrown into the unknown, maybe into a new world, maybe into the void, and my only purpose in life was to let this throw from the primal depths play out, feel its will inside me, and make that will entirely my own. Only that!
— from "Demian" by Hermann Hesse

Indices to the Idle Lonely

She had watched them in supermarkets and she knew the signs. At seven o’clock on a Saturday evening they would be standing in the checkout line reading the horoscope in Harper’s Bazaar and in their carts would be a single lamb chop and maybe two cans of cat food and the Sunday morning paper, the early edition with the comics wrapped outside. They would be very pretty some of the time, their skirts the right length and their sunglasses the right tint and maybe only a little vulnerable tightness around the mouth, but there they were, one lamb chop and some cat food and the morning paper. To avoid giving off the signs, Maria shopped always for a household, gallons of grapefruit juice, quarts of green chile salsa, dried lentils and alphabet noodles, rigatoni and canned yams, twenty-pound boxes of laundry detergent. She knew all the indices to the idle lonely, never bought a small tube of toothpaste, never dropped a magazine in her shopping cart. The house in Beverly Hills overflowed with sugar, corn-muffin mix, frozen roasts and Spanish onions. Maria ate cottage cheese.
— from "Play It As It Lays" by Joan Didion

On What Ruins a Person

‘You’ve told me you like music because it is outside of morality,’ he said. ‘Well and good. But now stop being a moralist yourself! You can’t keep comparing yourself to other people–if nature has made you a bat, you can’t decide you want to be an ostrich. You sometimes feel like you don’t belong, you blame yourself for following a different path than most other people. You have to unlearn that. Stare into the fire, look at the clouds, and when ideas or intuitions come to you and the voices in your soul start to speak, trust them and don’t worry about whether your teacher or your daddy or any other lord above likes what they have to say! That’s what ruins a person. That’s how you end up on the law-abiding sidewalk, just another fossil. My dear Sinclair, our god is called Abraxus, and he is God and Satan both, he contains the world of light and the world of darkness. Abraxus does not reject a single one of your thoughts and dreams. Never forget that. But he will leave you if you ever turn normal and irreproachable. Then he will leave you, and look for another pot to cook up his thoughts in.’
— from "Demian" by Hermann Hesse

On That Something Inside Us

‘My dear Sinclair,’ he said slowly, “I wasn’t trying to say anything disagreeable. And anyway–neither of us really knows the real reason why you’re drinking. Whatever it is inside you shaping your life knows already. It’s so good to know that there’s something inside us, and that it knows everything, wants everything, and does everything better than we do! – But forgive me, I have to go home now.’
— from "Demian" by Hermann Hesse

Taverna Tony

TAVERNA TONY
23410 Civic Center Way
Malibu, CA 90265
T. 310.317.9667


A couple of years ago, after silently lamenting that I lacked a sense of adventure, I decided to drive to Malibu on my own from the ranch. Driving long distances was still new to me at the time and I had no idea that the canyon roads were going to be curvy the entire way. It felt death-defying–you might as well have asked me to go bungee-jumping! My palms were sweaty, my stomach was in knots, and I cursed myself for not driving straight into L.A. like I normally did.

Taking the road less travelled, though, has its perks because that's when I stumbled across Taverna Tony, a romantic, bougainvillea-shaded veranda enclosed by a traditional white stucco wall. With its terracotta tiles and bright cerulean blue touches, it looked as though this entire restaurant had been transplanted from a vibrant coastal town in the Mediterranean. Feeling proud that I had completed my mission safely and soundly, I confidently strode into the bar and ordered myself a glass of crisp white wine.

I can't resist a Greek menu, but the best things here aren't actually on the menu at all. Tony's highly addictive "house dip" is graciously sent out with a basket of a warm loaf of bread once you sit down. Apparently, the dip's main ingredients are avocado, red caviar, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. The rest is a secret that's kept under lock and key. Every time I've returned since, I keep asking for the recipe, hoping one of the waiters will crack. But this is all in vain, which is wise because, instead of recreating it at home, I have no choice but to come back for more.

Of course, the crisp, bountiful salads and simply grilled seafood dishes are major draws, but my other favorites here include the avgolemono soup (a homemade chicken and orzo soup bolstered with egg yolks and lemon juice), the tender and smoky grilled baby octopus with spring onions, and the psarasoupa (a tomato-based fish and seafood soup). It's so hard not to fall in love with Greek food. If you make a day out of hanging out in Malibu, you must stop here!