Tag: ralph waldo emerson

Forget Paradise: Traveling in Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego

Design by Joseph Lapin
Design by Joseph Lapin

I grew up in Clinton, Massachusetts — a small town in Worcester County. We were once the crowning achievement of the Industrial Revolution, and the factories from the Bigelow Carpet Factory are still on Main Street, serving as a reminder of a former life. I love Clinton. I still have family there, and I have incredible friends there. That town has helped me become the man I am today, but I couldn’t wait to leave when I was a kid. It’s not that I disliked the people or thought it wasn’t a great town; it’s that I hated the snow; I hated the cold; I hated the small-town nature of my childhood existence. It just wasn’t where I wanted to live long term. I needed to find my home, and there were two places I knew where I wanted to live: Florida and California.

I started to develop this fascination with the idea of paradise. I started to think about the ocean, the sun, and the weather. I thought about Florida and California, and I built these ideas of these states as the key to happiness and success. That once I moved beyond the cold winters my life would be easier, more peaceful, and free.

Design by Joseph Lapin
Design by Joseph Lapin

So I went to college in Florida, and I lived there for four years, and I studied creative writing in Miami for three. Now I live in California — the place where I thought would be the most free state in the country — and I’m about to move to San Diego. What I’m trying to say is that I understand what it’s like to live in a place that most people consider paradise. I know what it’s like to live in a city where tourists line up, year after year, with their cameras to take photographs. I know what it’s like to take for granted the beauty that surrounds me and become accustomed to beautiful weather that you almost feel oblivious to the flowers blooming almost all year round or standing on the beach only to turn around and see snow on the mountaintops. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve spent the last ten years of my life chasing paradise, and I’m no longer looking for it. I’ve found it, and I can’t imagine ever leaving it. It’s obviously a state of mind. It’s a place that I can find in my writing. It’s my family. It’s music. Even though it’s so obvious, it’s important to remind myself that paradise is not a place. That’s what is on my mind this week.

Here are some quotes from writers on paradise:

“It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are … than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” — Milan Kundera.

New Piece in the OC Weekly

When I first moved to Southern California, I was living, briefly, in Huntington Beach with Heron and two of our friends.  I remember sitting in the living room and telling one of my friends — let’s call him Stan Clouds — that I was going to find a way to write a story for the OC Weekly.  He believed it, and he was encouraging.  We even spent some time trying to figure out a way to write a story about him.

Well, a year has gone by, and my buddy has moved.  He’s living somewhere in the northwest.  It’s funny how things change.  It’s funny how people move.  It’s funny how you can never know the direction of where things are going when you start.

But this morning, I biked down to 2nd Street in Long Beach to do some work at a Starbucks, and I opened up the OC Weekly to this:

To the Long Beach community, the closing of Berth 55 is an important story, and I was very lucky to help give this issue some attention.

Let me dive a bit deeper.  I wanted to share with you a piece of writing that always resonated with me.  I’m going to paraphrase.  What I’m about to share comes from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  My buddy, Justin Dennis, told me to read this back in college.  Well, in that essay, Emerson writes, remember I’m paraphrasing, imagine yourself as a boat on the open sea.  When you’re on the open sea, you have to zig zag on your way to your destination.  If there is enemy ship near you — or even a dreaded pirate — you can’t go in a straight line, because your route will be predictable and you’ll be in danger.

Continue reading “New Piece in the OC Weekly”