Find Poetic Inspiration Along Sunset Boulevard

Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine  |  Photo:  Yuri Hasegawa

It’s easy to associate Sunset Boulevard with classic Hollywood, old-school glamour and rock n roll along the Sunset Strip.

And it is all those things. But it is also so much more.

Sunset Boulevard unfurls from the heart of Downtown Los Angeles all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Twenty-two miles of curving road. Twenty-two miles of surprises, history, diversity, grit, beauty and downright inspiration.

There are more secrets and surprises along Sunset Boulevard than one could explore in an entire lifetime. And the street is spilling with poetic possibilities. Expect the unexpected.

Here are just a few of the gems strewn along Sunset Boulevard where you can fill yourself with inspiration and transmute it into poetic gold. Let’s travel westward.

826LA & the Time Travel Mart Time Scouts Handbook
Photo: 826LA & The Time Travel Mart, Facebook

826LA + Echo Park Time Travel Mart

Where better to start your journey? Just a few blocks east of Alvarado on Sunset Boulevard, 826LA will catch your eye immediately with its Echo Park Time Travel Mart storefront. (1714 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026) In true time-traveling spirit, “Whenever you are, we’re already then” is written across the front awning.

In their own words, “826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.”

If you are 6 to 18 years old, you can drop by for one-on-one poetry tutoring sessions (if you qualify) or experience amazing workshops. And if you’re an adult, you can volunteer to share your writing skills.

Stopping by the Echo Park Time Travel Mart is an inspiring experience in and of itself. One hundred percent of the proceeds from your purchases here go directly to supporting 826LA’s programming—so buy a journal and grab some Robot Milk and Dinosaur Eggs while you’re at it. Represent for poets by purchasing some Edgar Allen Poe band-aids. Good karma can’t guarantee good poetry…but it sure doesn’t hurt!

Weiser Family Farms eggplant at the Hollywood Farmers' Market
Weiser Family Farms eggplant | Photo: Hollywood Farmers' Market, Facebook

Hollywood Farmers' Market

Beloved by locals, the bustling Hollywood Farmers' Market at Selma & Ivar Avenues (Sundays 8:00 am - 1:00 pm) is a feast for the senses. Give yourself plenty of time to unhurriedly stroll and you’ll be exposed to much of the beauty that Los Angeles has to offer.

A diversity of languages spoken by people of all ages float by. Korean kimchee is available across from Danish Ebelskivers on Selma. Live music from buskers pours through the crowds. People (mostly) have their phones put away.

Breathe. Meander from Sunset up toward Hollywood. Slowly. Take in the lure of flowers and bright produce.

Fall in love with a piece of fruit; a delicate nectarine, a hardy lemon. Feel its weight in your hand, inhale its aroma. Purchase it. Maybe buy yourself a hunk of fresh lavender too.

Take a moment to write a bit of a love letter to the lemon. What does it smell like? Feel like in your hand? What is its weightiness? What’s the texture?  

Golden Lotus Temple and swans at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
The Golden Lotus Temple at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Paramahansa Yogananda dedicated the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in 1950. (17190 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades 90272) He intended for it to be a space that would be welcoming to people of all backgrounds, regardless of religious affiliation or rejection thereof.

No matter what your beliefs—a stillness and reverence may move you when you stand before the sarcophagus containing a portion of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes.

The manmade lake is surrounded by a lush meditation garden and walking path. There are koi and swans. There are quotes from various traditions nestled into the flora along the gentle, circular journey, and benches for pausing for contemplation along the way.

Choose a quote that calls to you and make a note of it in your journal.

Make your way to The Sunken Gardens, a verdant and welcoming womb-like space toward the completion of your circle journey. Take a seat on a stone bench. Give yourself time to breathe, and let your mind unfurl for a moment.

Reflect on the quote you noted before and see what you might have to say in response, if you were to just let your pen flow easily on the page of your new journal for a moment.

On your way out, stop and make a purchase - maybe a small crystal - or make a donation to those that tend to this space and keep it beautiful and welcoming to all.

The Marvin Braude Bike Trail at Will Rogers State Beach   |  Photo: Joshua Johnson
The Marvin Braude Bike Trail at Will Rogers State Beach  |  Photo: Joshua Johnson

Will Rogers State Beach

Sunset Boulevard really earns its name at Will Rogers State Beach (17700 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades 90272). Our journey ends at the proverbial sunset, (perhaps even the literal one, if things have timed out just so.)

Find a place to park safely on the southbound side of PCH or in one of the convenient parking lots.

Make your way to the sand, with your crystal, lemon and journal. Hunker down and sit with your sternum facing the ocean. Let the Pacific’s crashing music move through you.

Imagine that you can translate this oceanic music into words. Because, of course, you can. Take some notes. See what the sea has to tell you.

Give yourself a moment to feel gratitude for this poetic journey.

Let your journey in this journal continue, like Sunset Boulevard itself, a road that only ends at the fluid and borderless ocean—where there is, in truth, only a continuing.

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