(So close, yet so far.)
Typically, the first time one visits a particular place, their impression is either extremely good or extremely bad; it's most common to have a positive one. Exploring an interesting place for the first time evokes a feeling not unlike that of certain people who came to these lands on wind-powered wooden rafts hundreds of years ago.
Therefore, the sense of exploration is vast, and more so is the sense of accomplishment. As a result, happiness increases and your impression ends up being very polished.
One who is so bold as to return to the same place a second time commonly finds that the very same setting is not so appealing as it was, and the opinion that time around is face-down.
However, there are cases where the first impression is proven to be very accurate and it does not morph the second time around, but is cemented further.
Simply put, my own second-impression experience fits into neither of these. Considering the scope and nature of the project which this blog is mainly about, you probably aren't surprised to read that.
I said before that California is all sorts of things at once: you have everything and you have nothing. This time around, not only do I think this again, but I can prove it too.
Take, for example, a story told to us by our tour guide at Hearst Castle. A German tourist was on one of his tours, and he mentioned to the guide how he couldn't understand a particular room: it had a Spanish ceiling, Persian rugs, French furniture, and Italian pieces of art.
At the end of the tour, he told the guide that he understood Americans better now. I now understand a good way of describing them and their land.
The very castle is a good – albeit characterized – representation of the country. They've pulled all sorts of things from all sides and melted them down in one big imaginary pot, and called the end result their own. And, some years later, they conveniently forgot where all the ingredients came from...
Another example of this is a first-gen Honda Insight I saw on the freeway. The Insight was the first mass-produced hybrid on this market, and very advanced for its time. Despite all this technology, it's owner is now someone who doesn't particularly worry about it's – or his own – upkeep. In other words, the advanced car has an "un-advanced" owner, who has lethally injected its potential.
Both these examples mean one thing: there is an abundance of the best of the best in this abundant country. So abundant, that anybody can attain it.
And that precisely is both the problem and the solution.
If in the wrong hands, it will wither and die like an under-watered plant, though in the right hands, it will develop into something never seen before. You have to make sure that the 'object of greatness' you wish to claim doesn't get "bought out" by someone who won't ever be able to take it to the levels that you could.
An avoidable contradictory tragedy.
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