Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Just came back from trip to Florida. I wrote this a few years ago when I was down there. I don't think I would state it in such a negative way were I to write it today. Mountains are no more virtuous that beaches. I hope my relatives who retired to Florida don't take this literally. I think, however, the dangers of consuming the world for our own pleasure is quite real.

Florida is a lie. The warm sun, the ocean breezes, the year-round flowers: all lies. They are the forgetful lotus, the siren song lulling the unaware to poisoned sleep. This is not real. Were it real life in the tropics you would be malnourished and riddled with parasites, rather than fat and relaxed. Give me the dark grandeur of mountains. They might keep my soul alive. The tropics have been tamed, their wildness subjected to air conditioning and lawn mowers. Buy up beach front property and be lulled into the life of pleasure and ease.

This is our American Heaven, live your life well and you get to come here when you retire. But it is not heaven. It is anesthesia for the heart. Put you down quietly, forget the evils of your world, forget your obligations to the needy, forget the needs of your soul, sit in a comfortable chair under a palm tree and forget it all. But Florida is a lie. Even this world is not tamed. The Hurricanes and heart attacks will come like thieves in the night. The fountain of warm-climate youthful sensation will dry up. Give me the dark grandeur of the mountains where the sight of immensity or the shroud of fog will remind me of my death daily. I hope that I may consume fewer pre-packaged comforts and perhaps pay some attention to the state of my soul.


johnny p said...

True, very true. But my view of Florida has now changed after living there for 3 years. I now feel I tasted a bit of what it will be like in Hell. Constant heat and no break from it.

Anonymous said...

What is being lied about? Who is telling the lie?

(Hint: self-deception also is lying.)

"Every time there is a lie there is signification. Every time there is signification there is the possibility of using it in order to lie."
- U. Eco Theory of Semiotics (1976), p, 59

(see also pp. 6 and 116)

JD said...

Well technically speaking, Florida is a place, not a proposition which could be true or false. A place Johnny P so literally observed that is hot. I think I was referring more to the “idea of Florida.” The idea that living luxuriously by the beach will somehow make one happy and safe. I think this is a deception to which we Americans with our “American dream” easily fall prey. We have all been raised to at least some extent believe that self-indulgence is the chief end of man.

I wish I could say I speak against this because I am above consumerism, but I am not. My temptations are places other than Florida but they are still quite real. I discuss them here:

anna marie said...

Florida is certainly not a lie!

Is it somehow bad that such a beautiful place exists? Perhaps God was wrong to make so much beauty? Or perhaps we should avoid living in beautiful places that remind us of God’s goodness because some spartan virtue demands that we not enjoy life that much?

Personally, I find that I am more thankful, more amazed at God’s kindness, more full of awe and wonder when I am in Florida than when I am at home. It is true that I can forget the many needs and demands of a hurting world in all that wonder, but then I can forget that just as easily at home, going about my daily routines. Blame my sinfulness, but don’t blame Florida!

I think that the fact that most of us experience Florida as we go there on vacation rather than as residents gives us a feeling that if is not “real life.” As someone who grew up in Florida, I can assure you that life is just a real there as anywhere else. I know that you are amazingly committed as a doctor, so perhaps you were feeling guilty about being on vacation when you wrote this. But I can assure you that if you worked in Florida, you would find the people just as needy of help and your work just as purposeful!

Anonymous said...


Hi. I love your posts! I'm on call tonight and as the pager system is down, I'm not getting nearly as many nuisance pages. I find myself depressed and hating medicine. (My intern year is 16 months as Med/ I'm sure you can understand my pain :) I'm in month 15). I find myself wishing for a magic feel good pill and instead I sat down and checked email (that I'm months behind on) and came across your e-mail referring to your blog and starting reading. Your writing is amazing, your insight is refreshing. I absolutely had to comment on your "Florida" post, now that I'm living here. And you hit the nail on the head. I can never explain why I will NEVER remain in Florida, except to say that there is no culture, no depth, no realness. But you have so eloquently put into words what I feel. Where does one vacation if you already live in Paradise? I spent last Thanksgiving on the Beach in a bikini with my little brother (remember Courtland?) Unreal. I look forward to moving away from the beaches, away from the eternal sunshine, away from the pool in EVERY backyard, away from the perfect people. I miss people like you...thoughtful, insightful, different......Luv you Jonathan. Thanks for brightening my mood and giving me the "deepness" that I miss. Take care and tell Joya hi!

And God forgive me, but your piece about 'acting' hit the nail on the head. I feel as though my entire existence now is acting. I 'act' concerned, sympathetic and appropriately sorrowful when my patients experience death when inside I feel nothing...I'm numb...completely immune from the pain. Sad. Maybe I should start a blog, except I don't have the guts to put my deepest feelings and thoughts out there, people might be horrified.