Most locals who hate living in Ohio are deceiving themselves. The psychological roots of their deception, like the roots of a weed, run about as deep as Eden and can only be dug out with persistent personal effort.
The profound truth is that most human beings, in our base state of nature, are very fickle creatures; that's why we need an otherworldly anchor (faith) to transcend this problem. But have no fear in letting go of worldly anchors; true contentment is much more than a mere consolation prize for giving up on Carolina or California dreaming.
How many times have you finally gained exactly what you thought the creature in you "needed" to be happy, but soon after found yourself bored with worldly "fulfillment?" Are you spellbound to fall for this trap over and over again?
The elusiveness of personal paradise may be caused by your innate desire for new and different experiences and knowledge. It's quite normal. However, because "paradise" is just our human nature throwing curve balls at us, we must remember it is psychologically rooted in what our flesh lacks, so we shouldn't realistically expect to fulfill each paradise lost with more fleshy dreams.
If such a personal realization could help the average down-on-the-Valley resident lighten up a little bit, then we might all enjoy life here a lot more. As the Civil War-era prayer nailed it (150 years before the digital era began), "I asked God for all things, so that I might enjoy my life; and He gave me life, so that I might enjoy all things."
All Valley residents need to weed their proverbial garden of unrealistic expectations. Ohio is not a universal paradise because no place on earth qualifies. Still, with persistent effort and care, anyone's purpose in the Valley or any other place will grow and blossom and even bring forth much fulfilling fruit!
Ironically, I am writing this column from Myrtle Beach, S.C., among the most popular vacation destinations for millions of Midwesterners every summer. I love it here. By the end of the week I am so seduced by the beach life that my flesh and I dread returning to Ohio ... so by Wednesday of this year's trip I decided to concoct a "sour grapes" antidote for my fickleness.
I chatted while shopping at a local grocery store and then asked the following three questions to the first ex-Midwesterners (without southern drawl) I encountered:
1. "How many years ago did you move to Myrtle Beach?"
2. "How frequently do you visit the beach now?"
3. "Where do you take your vacations now that you live at the beach?"
Cindy Trepanier lived in Rochester, NY.,, for 40 years before purchasing a beachside home in Myrtle Beach only three years ago. She blushed a little while informing me that she couldn't remember the last time she walked on the beach, "It has been over a year, I'm sure of that much." Cindy's summer vacation plans are the inverse of ours as she is headed up north for a week in Toronto.
Teddy Mozier moved to Myrtle Beach 16 years ago from Scranton, Pa., and claims he rarely ever sees the beach. He reckoned it had been over two years since he had last set foot on the Grand Strand. He, too, is headed north for two summer vacation stops in New York City and Boston. A clear pattern was emerging.
"'Paradise' is what you don't have," replied the Frenchman, George, I met in 1995 while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in central Africa. George had carved out an idyllic hotel and restaurant surrounded by coconut palms into a pristine place where coral reefs meet unspoiled beaches and the beaches are overlapped by virgin African rainforest. It was a picture postcard version of what passes for paradise in the minds of Midwesterners. I went there (for only $15/night) every time I missed my paradise lost - Ohio.
During a gorgeous sunset I once asked him, "What's it like to live in paradise?" George stared blankly at me for a few seconds before explaining how he had recently bought a condo in the capital city where he commutes daily for his "creature" comforts. I never forgot it.
Today is Friday in Myrtle Beach and my long drive to Ohio looms ahead. Surprisingly, I'm OK with it. My faith tells me that I live where I do for a reason.