IT Pilgrimage

A Journey From IT to Freedom

Impressions from the road…in LA

Posted by IT Pilgrim on October 21, 2008

Impressions from the road…in LA. Los Angeles is clearly the land of milk and honey for so many people, but it is also clearly not for so many others. Rarely anywhere else do you see such poverty and yet such wealth at the same time, rather Mexico-like really. I have to wonder, how much of that is nothing more than an appearance of wealth.

As a business traveler, I do not know the city, and will never be anywhere long enough to learn it, so I end up seeing lots of different parts of town, GPS devices are indifferent such things after all, and I really don’t know any better. Driving around the other day, the view of it all brought to mind that song or poem maybe that was attributed to Baz Luhrmann. It was called Wear Sunscreen and was passing around quite a bit a few years back. It said,

Live in LA but leave before it makes you soft.” Remembering this, I look around with a slightly different perspective, seeing the restaurants, the cars, the palm trees and the balmy weather. I see the miles of endless concrete, and just how very domesticated everything is, hemmed in and controlled at every turn. But there is definitely an undercurrent here, a feel on the air.

It was on the air the minute I stepped off the plane, and it is many things, but mostly, it seems to be desperation. Its that wild crazy desperation that you see in the eyes of a caged animal. With that in mind, I have to wonder how living in LA could ever make you soft. Sure, there is ease here. There are Spas and such, everywhere. There are also rules, rules upon rules, with more signs advertising voting for more rules.

There is also the tension between the haves and the have-nots. The tension is unbelievable, and really, only the haves seem to be unaware of it, or maybe, they choose to ignore it. The have-nots also don’t seem to exude quite that rat-race desperation that the wealthy do. Instead they seem to try to avoid that fever pitch of everyone trying to make that one extra buck. Perhaps they are just trying to avoid getting run over, quite a feat all in its own. LA made me realize the horror of this hamster wheel we have all locked ourselves into that we are too afraid to jump off. I can’t quite shake that desperation I feel on the air, and it makes me think that all that appearance of wealth is nothing more than a pose.

These people are all actors on a huge stage, and they’re all hoping someone will yell “Cut” before they all fall over in exhaustion. Never before have I seen quite this particular combination of beauty, hate, rage and fear. Perhaps I too am just too jaded by the rat race and realizing that there is no end. Somehow, it seems like LA is just a little microcosm of the country as a whole. I am traveling more and more now, so I guess time will answer that for me.

Are we all racing towards that giant meltdown? Will we see the end of the lives we have made for ourselves any time soon? Where will it all end, perhaps when the weight of all our new rules becomes too much to bear? I leave you with the words of Ayn Rand.

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.

-Ayn Rand

Photo by kla4067 via Flickr

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