When I pack my bag for So Cal, I think of a sun drenched coast line. I always secure a room on the Newport Beach bay and keep the floor to ceiling windows open all day.
I sit out on the balcony and watch all kinds of boats pass by. I keep the windows open all night. There is no barrier between me and the water. I do this during every season of the year.
I live in Salt Lake City (SLC.) There are fifty windows in our home. I see everything from my windows. I see the snow; I see the ice and rain and hear the wind. I see the clouds come over the mountains.
My bed is high so I sit up and see all these things. I close the curtains at night and see nothing but my room. I’m in my private world now.
From my office at home I can see the city lights below.
I’ve worked all my life to live like this. My obsession is those views.
I can feel the contrasts between the heat and the cold; I can see the difference between sand and snow, between the ocean and the mountain, between the sky and the cloud, between the boat and the city below.
It is the contrast that causes me to see both.
In So Cal there is no hint of oppressive culture. It’s free and loose. There are so many beliefs that there are no common beliefs. There are so many cultures that there is no one culture. No matter who you are you fit in.
In SLC it is white, with a dot of color here and there. It is neat and easy to get around.
The traffic is near perfect. When there is heavy traffic, it is the exception.
People stand for something here. When you disagree with the standard bearer, you do not spare the rod. There is a heavy culture here.
In So Cal there is pain but it is covered over. In SLC there is pain and it is a business here.
In So Cal you can be lonely. In SLC you work at being left alone.
In So Cal when people are mean, they mean it. In SLC people are nice, but don’t mean it.
In So Cal people are interested in SLC. In SLC people want to be in So Cal.
So Cal wears people down. They dream of a place like SLC
SLC is defensive about So Cal. They fear it is better, because of the weather.
So Cal is now a great world culture. SLC is interesting, more so than it deserves.
I want to be in So Cal, I just don’t want to live in So Cal. I am comfortable living in SLC, but I only want to live there a few months out of the year.
In So Cal all roads lead to Disneyland, in SLC you have Temple Square.
Disneyland is a good meeting place for all kinds of extended family affairs. It helps even difficult family members behave themselves.
Temple Square has added a beautiful mall it is an inside/ outside mall. There are authentic creeks pulled up and flowing all the way through. Liberals hate it, after all it’s a mall, but they are the first ones there.
In So Cal you forget you have religion. In the Avenues of SLC, you mention your religion and you might be told to go to hell. I accept both approaches.
So Cal is a region. SLC is a city. I live in a neighborhood that is full of trees and lawns and hills and historic architecture and is sixty seconds from downtown. It’s urban/ residential. It’s the best place I’ve ever lived. I gaze down on the city that continues to become a city. I love living in the city. People love living in the SLC Avenues. It’s diverse and creative. The small houses are as appealing as the bigger ones.
I’ve roamed the world for most if not all of my life looking for perfect happiness.
I’ve settled on these two places. But there’s no one place of perfect happiness, not even two. There are good days, bad ones too. There are routine days, every once in a while there are exciting days. There are throw away days. Once in a great while there are special days, unexplainable days, maybe even spiritual days.
What do I do with an imperfect day? I accept it as part of the deal.
I think that we drink, travel, take drugs, lose ourselves in mission, indulge pornography, because we are looking for relief and meaning and pleasure from the sterile existence life can be every day.
It doesn’t work, does it?
Your best bet is to marshal on. Accept the mundane. Accept its nothingness with as much grace as you are capable of mustering up.
Then when those rare moments come along, you pull together enough courage to strike out on your own. You actually take a risk. It comes but once, at the most twice, in a life. As you do and for however long it lasts, you are alive. Every moment is meaningful. You are happy. Then challenges set in. Then anxiety sets in. Then work sets in. Then routine.
Was it worth it? That’s for each person to decide for herself. It was for me.
I always have those memories. My present state is shaped by those past moments. Again it’s the contrasts that matters. I now accept the package life comes in. Even the mundane is noble, upholding everydayness with purpose, because it’s tied to the rest.
I wash dishes, put them away. Make the bed, wash the sheets. Clean the toilets and the sinks. Take out the trash. Reline the trash cans. Do the washing. Fold the clothes. Help with the dinner. Empty the car of the groceries.
Dusting is a work in progress. I experiment by taking the lawn blower and using it as a way of removing dust from the shelves and blinds. Then vacuuming takes on a lot of meaning.
I have a collection of fifty to sixty cleaning rags. I can clean anything if I have enough rags. I throw ten wet ones down on the third floor porch, where the hose can’t reach, and wipe as fast as I can. Then I take ten dry rags and dry the surface as fast as I can.
Unless you do this, you’ll eventually go mad. You’ll feel like Don Draper on Mad Men, just floating through life. Getting on and off the elevator, which only goes up and down, but never forward.
As the film critic says, “Don can’t find that perfect happiness he’s looking for.” He can’t find it, because it doesn’t exist. He has not yet figured out the deal, the package deal. That’s why most men go mad.