California: Reality & Fantasy
Do you know what is approximately 779 miles long, 354 miles wide, home to over 39,747,267 citizens, and believed to make your wildest dreams come true? Dont worry theres no need to take out your calculators, Im not going to force you do any complex math equations or make you search the internet to find the answer. What Im going to do is tell you all about a place that you may already know, a place called California.
Youre probably starting to picture Hollywood, the coastal shoreline, national parks, and the warm climate, but where I want to turn our attention is to this California Dream that millions still believe it represents. California gives an open invitation to numerous people who dare to chase this California Dream weve so meticulously crafted in our minds. Its become a destination for many to seek opportunity, wealth, and live in its unique climate. Throughout the years these dreams have been both realistic yet unrealistic, where stories of success overcloud the stories of failures, presenting hopeful individuals a messy contradiction of expectations.
This California Dream that we know is paradox, both existing in reality and fantasy, both everything and nothing at the same time.
So why do people come to California? Id like to believe the abundant opportunities California exudes is the number one reason people wish to live here. With its lure of gold, its abundant land, and its balmy climate, its attracted immigrants, adventurers, and visionaries ever since being explored by Spanish missionaries during the eighteenth century. The Golden State has been a magnet for many looking for new opportunity, a changed lifestyle, a new start (Gibbs & Bankhead 86). California is perceived to have this idea that you can be whatever and whoever you want. Yes, that perception and ideal is true, but whats not factored in that testament is if its really within your means. For example, say youve just moved here from Mexico with the hopes of providing for your family. You believe that once you get here youll get a good job, find success, be able to financially support your family, and live the good life. Well, the first thing to consider is do you have documentation to be here? If not, you won’t be able to find a job, won’t be able to find housing, cant get any sort of insurance, and risk being deported every day. Unless youre hired illegally, youve have just about zero opportunities and will struggle to support yourself. So the expectation of what you thought California was, no longer is. Now say that you do have all your documentation and come here, you now have vastly more opportunities to choose from. Though your success can range from finding a high paying job and comfortably supporting your family, to finding a job and living paycheck to paycheck to barely scraping by.
California can be everything you wish it to be, since it does have a lot of great opportunities for success and growth in all areas of life. Though as Ive grown older, the dreams that I once aspired have turned into a more realistic outlook. This once imaginative dream that I can and will be whatever I want, turned into I wish I had the resources to be that, and since I dont, Ill become this instead. People come with a preset vision of what their life will be like here, and I empathize to all the individuals who come and have their dreams crushed. At the age of eighteen I was fully independent. I immediately had to get a job to support myself so I could put a roof over my head, food on the table, pay for college, and so on. Now being twenty-four I know money is power and money is your opportunity to obtain these dreams. Ive been less optimistic to what opportunities are readily available. California is very competitive and if you dont have what its looking for, its on to the next. There will be obstacles standing in your way and if youre not willing to put that effort in, or have the drive and motivation to keep pushing towards it, youre in for a rude awakening. Rawls states that dreamers who once had such high hopes now have realized the version of what they envisioned doesnt fulfill that promise. Many come and find out that life here isnt all that they hoped for. Some come with too high of expectations that arent realistic or are unobtainable, turning these once hopeful dreamers into broken hearted bitter antagonists who challenge the false promise if the California Dream (25). The Californian Dream succeeds in attracting an enormous number of people, though the ability to completely fulfill its promises fails for a vast majority.
Since youre presented with the opportunity to do anything and be anything, why not try to get rich too? Before high technology and aerospace, there were motion pictures, oil fields, citrus groves, real estate, railroads, and of course, gold (Rawls 23). A time where the belief of the Californian promise may have been at an all time high. When word spread that there was gold, California began to flood with people from all different walks of life. There is psychological motivation to acquire fast wealth or fame behind the California Dream, making it another huge aspect why people chose to come here. Rawls expressed the gold rush experience was foraged on this paradox of expectation. Hundreds of diaries and reminiscence extoll the charms of the golden land, but others speak of the painful contrast between California vaunted promises and its actual conditions (26). California was being over dramatized leading these hopeful individuals to unrealistic expectations. Those who come here, as many do, and imagine that it is easily to be picked up, will be wonderfully disappointed (Anonymous 36). Even in todays society money is power and we chase the wealth wherever it goes. Numerous people put money into stalks, smart phone app developments, and even real-estate to enhance their income, since Californias ticket price to live here only keeps increasing. Weve become a very money hungry civilization centralizing success on how much money you have. I believe a lot of your success has to do with wealth or at least some of it, because without money how does one truly make it here. If you want a good job youve got to get a good education, which leads to paying for school and textbooks. You must supply a roof over your head and put food in your mouth to survive. Without wealth people can start to feel their opportunities sliding away from them, realizing that the golden promise they once heard and dreamed about comes with a price.
If you didnt come for the opportunities and wealth, you probably came for the climate.Freedom, outdoor living, and romance those are also the bright lights of the Californian Dream (Rawls 24). A place that almost never rains and the sun always shines, is why my mom decided to move here when she was twenty-eight years old. She almost couldnt stand the constant gloomy rainy skies of Seattle, Washington any longer. Rawls paints the overwhelming vision of endless blue skies and spectacular seacoasts, magnificent groves of giant sequoia, gentle hills, and soaring mountains of what beautiful California has to offer (24). Its pretty amazing that you can experience all the seasons in this state. There isnt many places where you can drive from snowy Sierras one day to the coastal beaches the next. In order to help preserve the land so many have come to love, Rawls illustrates that solar, wind, and geothermal power represent ways in economic development may proceed with a minimum of environmental damage (29). You can divide the beauty in two different physical categories, one being the land and the other the people. If youre not from here, you cant help but picture California to be full of surfers and the classic Malibu barbie types depicted from songs The Beach Boys sang. There’s also the unmistakable glamour Hollywood added to the Californian image, a place where beautiful people lived. Two stereotypes that countless people sought to embody.
Founded on expectation and hope, the Californian Dream promises to fulfill our deepest longings for opportunity and success, warmth, sunshine and beauty, health and long life, freedom, and even a foretaste of the future (Rawls 23). Combining two seemingly opposites, California is both made up of promises and paradoxes. It can be both everything and nothing at once, making this dream only what you perceive it to be. Many successes have come for wide eyed dreamers and great defeats as well. Weather you come for the endless opportunities, wealth and success, or climate and beauty only your expectations will decide if this dream will be your reality or fantasy.