The Thing About Florida…

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a wedding in breezy, beautiful Florida. Immediately, I was overwhelmed by the warm, humid air and the mellow personalities of the locals. Being in Vermont for so long, it’s been a while since I’ve encountered either of these things, and even longer since they’ve been the norm.

The warm, happy attitude calls to mind an episode of 30 Rock entitled “Unwindulax”, a portmanteau of unwind and relax. While this is an exaggeration on the type of people one would find in Florida, it’s not entirely unfounded. A study from myregion.org (which can be found here) details the psychographics of Central Florida.

They found that retirees seek out cultural events, recreation, and nightlife the most in Florida, indicating a desire to stay active. Only 48% of people of working age “work for a feeling of real accomplishment,” while two-thirds of workers surveyed “aren’t motivated to drive their employer’s business goals.”

Along with the “erosion of the work ethic” reported by over half of top Floridian executives surveyed, it highlights a really interesting mindset. People view Florida as an escape, a warm, dreamlike paradise where the problems melt away.

This, in part, is what unsettled me so much. Granted, I was already put off by the ridiculous palm trees and the bizarrely flat landscape, but the happiness of the people was so foreign and bizarre. It wasn’t until I was at a tiki bar listening to soft rock covers on saxophone, indulging in a bit of “unwindulaxing” myself (pictured below), that I realized why it was so peculiar.

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Vermont, in my experience, is not about being happy all the time. Life comes with happiness, but it also comes with sadness, anger, and nervousness.

This is just my personal take, so take it with a grain of salt, but I believe that all emotions should be celebrated. Even when one feels horrible, those emotions are real, and are necessary. Anger has a place, sorrow has a place, and it makes for a more vibrant culture. Punk rock and Picasso’s Blue Period were born from these feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jimmy Buffet, but even after a few days in Florida, I felt emotionally smothered.

Florida is a beautiful place for those looking for an escape from negativity, and that’s wonderful, but I revel in the spectrum of emotions that life has to offer. As a parting thought, I’d love to leave you with a speech from my idol, Bob Ross.

What’s your take? Are you an unwindulaxer? What role do negative emotions play in your life?

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