There are many differences from being in California and being in South Carolina. Some of them are mind bending, others are joyful and yet I find that there are many preconceived notions regarding both states and the people who live there. I have found it remarkable and I have decided to write a bit about it.
Last night I met a man that lives here in Myrtle Beach. He said he was originally from Lake City. According to him he has traveled the world. Regardless it struck me how his view of me being from California went.
First of all he could never remember my name, I always find this comical for some reason. You can see them struggling, grasping to find what they have lost in their mind. I have been there many times. He asked where I was from and I said California. As goes every conversation the next question was what part of California. Most people don’t grasp the enormity of the state and locations are just words that mean nothing. My answer is Southern California. I lived in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear area. Immediately I became the place because the rest of the evening he called me Big Bear. For whatever reason I found this humorous. Maybe it was because I was flat out tired and didn’t feel good. Who knows.
He asked me two questions that stuck with me. One was what will be your epithet when you die? What is it that you want on your headstone? Once I clarified that I had zero intention of having a headstone because my final resting place will be the ocean. I answered his question. I told him if I were to have a headstone the only thing besides the vital statistics I would want on it would be my favorite Bible Scripture. I know, I know, me? The Bible? It doesn’t really fit but hang in there for a moment and it will all make sense.
My life, my beliefs, are that we are here to love. We are here to learn to love unconditionally. I just recently had a beautiful conversation about this very thing with one of my dearest friends, Mel. So with that in mind, and believe me when I tell you that all of my life this has been the ONLY thing I have ever said I wanted on my headstone because over the years it is the one scripture that I carry in my heart all of the time, the bible scripture I would choose is:
1 Corinthians 13:13
“Now abide faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.”
That’s it. That is my guiding light all of the time. It is how I try to live my life. It is who I am, in one complete sentence. Do I always succeed? No! I keep loving though and I hold that scripture close. It has gotten me through many days in my life and I imagine it will never change.
His second question threw me for a loop though. Actually it took me by surprise. His next question was “Coming from California do you find South Carolinians ignorant?” Really I was taken aback. I think I was so stunned that I had to take a moment to catch my breath.
There are a lot of preconceived notions about the Southern States and the people who live here. It makes no difference where you live you will hear people talk about Southern people.
My answer was not anymore so than what I saw in California as there is ignorance everywhere you go. He didn’t respond to that and the conversation ended at that point. It didn’t leave my head though. I have heard many different comments since being here. I have laughed many times because I can tell you that the people here also have preconceived notions on Californians.
Here is the thing though, people, no matter where they are from always think they know what other places and people are like. We walk in thinking we know. Sometimes we are open enough to allow ourselves to find out differently and other times we are so closed off that we are going to find exactly what we believe to prove our point.
Here is what I have found about South Carolina and the people who live here. I will share some preconceived notions that I have heard before and what I have seen with my own eyes and heart.
- Preconceived notion: All southern people are racists. – My findings: There are many people here who are openly racist. They will tell you they are racist. Yet, they are not all racist. The majority of people I have met don’t dislike people because of their color as much as they dislike them for who they are. If you are an asshole they will call you on it right there. They will dislike you for your actions much quicker than they will for your color. So I find the preconceived notion incorrect.
The racism in this country is a central conversation in our nation and yet I believe that it is no more rampant here than anywhere else. I have seen all colors co-existing with little problem here. The language here is much different, less politically correct, than in California but with that said the language here, no matter how offensive it is to my senses at times, is more honest than what I have seen in California. In California we go out of our way not to offend anyone. Here they don’t. Which is more honest?
2. Preconceived notion: All southern people are ignorant. – My findings: Just as anywhere, and as I stated above, there is ignorance everywhere. Who am I to judge another? I can tell you that I have had some very intelligent conversations with the people here. They are funny, kind, intelligent, caring and giving. Many attributes that many elsewhere are lacking. You hear about southern hospitality all of the time and maybe instead of trying to find why there is something wrong with the south we should be taking lessons on how to be hospitable from them because they have that down better than the majority. Southern people are not ignorant.
They have their opinions. They share their thoughts openly. Yet, for the most part, you can disagree with them and they don’t get angry. They may think you are just that hippy from California who needs to get a grip but ultimately they will accept you just as you are. They listen with an open heart and they are passionate about what they believe yet they are accepting of you regardless of your own beliefs. There are great lessons there to be had if you are willing to learn.
The things that I have found here have been remarkable in the fact that the majority of the people I have met are genuinely caring and concerned for your well being. They will go out of their way to make sure you are alright. I am use to the California way of ignoring those around you. Most often you can stand next to someone for a long while and never speak a word to them and vise versa. Not here. You will have a conversation with just about every single person you see if you are open to it.
There is a lot of history here. Each state has it’s own. Some embrace that history and continue to live it, others strive to make life better than the history they carry. Either way the people here are beautiful people. They show love and compassion even when they are telling you how wrong you are. It is a beauty in motion if you really think about it. To have that passion. To know your own mind and yet be willing to accept another for who they are even when you don’t agree with them is pure beauty.
I have chosen to not engage in any political conversations because honestly our politics are such a mess that it has divided our country. I refuse to engage because I personally find nothing worth talking about anymore. Why create chaos when you can’t change it? Bad attitude or Reality? You choose. Either way I won’t engage.
All I can tell you at this point is that if you are basing your opinion of a place on what you hear then you need to get out and meet the people. You will be pleasantly surprised if you have an open heart and choose not to judge others.
I live by a non judgement stance. You have the right to your thoughts, way of being and how you live your life as do I. We don’t have to agree. There are many people I disagree with but I choose to look past our disagreements and love them because that is their world and in my world I choose to love the person not the choices they make. I work diligently to be non judgmental because I have not lived their life and I have no right to tell them what they should or shouldn’t believe. This is a constant regardless of what state I find myself in.
Ultimately I find the south a beautiful place to be. The people and the land offer more beauty, change and growth than I could have ever hoped to have and for that I will always be grateful.