Every time I go to California I am inspired. I’m not sure what it is. I’ve talked to others who travel there and everyone says they come home with wonderful crazy ideas that they did not have before. While in California I become inspired and I end up taking on new adventures previously unconsidered.
I’m just back from a week in California and again I am inspired. I wonder why do I return from this Pacific coast state with so many new ideas and so much fresh insight? Why have the people inspired me toward new opportunities? What’s going on here? I have a hunch.
Is it the places?
On this trip I was in Southern California. I traveled from Salona Beach in North San Diego County, up to Orange County for visits to San Clemente, then spent some time with friends in Irvine in Orange County before a quick trip to Laguna Beach and then out to the Palm Desert. While in Palm Desert I went running in the desert, and I took a drive up into the San Jacinto mountains to Idyllwild. I ended the trip with a few days on San Diego Harbor and with meetings on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The mix of geography in such a small area always fascinates me.
Is it the conversations?
The great conversations I had could’ve happened anywhere. But for some reason they all happened in California. Some of them are old friends, others are recent friends and still others were with people that I’d met for the first time. I noticed that all of these people really know how to have a conversation, and they are looking beyond today.
Is it the culture?
Over the years California has always been seen as a bellwether state. It is a place where new ideas are hatched. Some make it and some fail, but there’s always something in the air.
People look to California as a state where things happen. Here’s my idea on why this is so.
Historically in North America the Explorers were the ones who pushed into new territory beyond the conventionally safe borders. And this typically meant that they travelled west. Let’s go back even further. Most of the initial colonists and pioneers to North America who landed on the East Coast had left Europe and travelled west to come to the New World. And when the Explorers among those pioneers grew restless, the only direction they could go by land was further west. Initially they went to the Appalachians; they went to Ohio; they went to Michigan, the Dakotas. And when the Explorers from those pioneers wanted to keep exploring further, they headed further west toward the Pacific Ocean. They ended up in Washington, Oregon and California.
My hunch is that these Explorers with their exploring lifestyle yielded a western culture synonymous with ideas and expansion. Those pioneers landed, and their ideas just kept churning amidst the inspiration of the amazingly beautiful western environs. This culture of Explorers was always pushing the edge. They were always creating something new. I think the exploration culture they shaped continues today with wonder, “What else could happen here?”
Today this tendency for thinking about possibilities and this wondering what is beyond is still churning and bringing California alive. There are uptimes for Explorers and there are downtimes. California has experienced them all throughout its history, with each cycle birthing what is next.
Here are five reasons I think California continues to be an incubator of new ideas:
1. The people are usually open to new ideas because they’re looking beyond today.
2. The climate lends itself to being outdoors and encourages interaction with other people.
3. The people that settled in California were the Explorers of the Explorers. They were like the choicest Explorers because they kept going when others settled along the way. It takes work to get to California from whatever direction you are traveling. You have to want to be there. This drive became a culture.
4. California is a crossroads. Hispanic citizens from the South, Asian citizens from the west and European
citizens from the East all gathered in California. The mix of civilizations with an exploration mindset is a robust formula for new discoveries.
5. Everyone in California starts fresh. Initially everyone who came to California had to lighten the load. In the early days it was by ship or over the mountain ranges. This meant a lot of what they had had couldn’t not be brought with them.
Need some inspiration for your inner Explorer? Get your kicks. Get hip. Take that California trip.