“I think in the old days, the nexus of weirdness ran through Southern California, and to a degree New York City. I think it’s changed so that every bizarre story in the country now has a Florida connection. I don’t know why, except it must be some inversion of magnetic poles or something.” — Carl Hiaasen
Some of the nicest people I know live in Florida. More, some of the nicest people I know move to Florida to fully embrace the lifestyle that comes when a state is a peninsula dividing the tropical waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. No doubt, there is a culture of kindness and inclusion, exhibited in multi-cultural, synergistic and exponential growth. But there’s a reason Hiaasen novels are so popular: Florida is chock full of oddballs behaving badly, and he blends it into his characters masterfully.
Maybe it’s inevitable when you’ve got so many people wanting a piece of paradise that corruption, madness and division swirl in with the Rum Runners. Inevitably some of it surfaces, some if it settles on the bottom like sludge, and somewhere in the middle of all that is clarity and joy. We make of our environment what we will, but as any Floridian will tell you, we should also watch where we swim.
When you talk to people who grew up in old Florida, they describe the complete transformation of their state from sleepy agriculture and tourist state to booming and connected concrete jungles. Florida is sprawling madness. After visiting Dale Hollow Lake and seeing the subdivisions plotted out there, I think of Florida as it once was and now is, and how that will soon happen there. As Joni Mitchell says, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
The thing is, you go to a place like Florida and can easily see yourself building a life around the best of what it offers. Buy in and you can blend right in, crazy and all. Spending time here and you begin to love the tropical vibe, easy living and immersive vitamin D possibilities. We all should ask ourselves, “where might we optimize our potential?” And align with the answer. My own answer lies much farther north; I wouldn’t want to live there, but Florida is a nice place to visit.