When I had decided to leave New York after five years of concerted climbing, socially and professionally, it was because I was tired. I was tired of climbing, elbowing my way for a position in the industry, in the subway car, for space on the sidewalk. Everything about living in New York was a battle, a struggle for basic survival. There was something of a jungle mentality in the people, a primal need to establish hierarchy and bitterly defend one’s place in the pack.
At first, this climb and everything about life in a fast-paced, throbbing city is exciting. It is all new experiences, consistently providing novel distractions. It is like watching a grand show of fireworks – you are enthralled by the colors and explosions, but watch for long enough and even the most vibrant pyrotechnical spectacle eventually just becomes irritating noise. And that is what New York had become for me – noisy, unnecessarily busy, monotonous.
There are some people who crave this endless energy. They are masochists. They seek constant external stimulation to drown out any sound of the inner. How can there be any possibility to go inwards when outside is bustling with commotion, when at any moment a man might flash you, or you might be greeted with the pungent stench of subway defecation, or blaring sirens provide a background soundtrack impeding even the possibility of composing a grocery list?
The inner search requires quiet; it requires space and detachment, all things which are antithetical to New York life. The vibration of which people speak about New York is real – it is vibrating at a certain animal frequency, a level which induces adrenaline. People are fighting to survive, to fulfill their basic animal instincts. When the fight for survival and space is primary, there is no time or energy to think about spiritual matters. What is important is making more money to move out of your shoebox studio and gain more status to get a table at a restaurant. In such a way, New York is closer to primitive tribe living, where the strongest dominate, than an advanced cosmopolitan society.
Los Angeles, by contrast, fosters an internal development in the refugees who find their way to its hills and valleys. It is spacious, it is warm and sits among nature stretching in every direction. It is unquestionably a slower pace of life. Here it is possible to lose yourself in your own reality, to construct your own world. No one will bother you. You awake to the sounds of birds singing, the soft fragrance of blooming bougainvillea. When you go outside, at nearly any time of the year, you are greeted by a benevolent shining sun that warms your body and heart.
California has been leading a spiritual awakening in the West since the 60’s. It has been on the pioneering front of healthy and mindful living. It is a place for seekers, for dreamers, for those who want to create a more conscious way of life. All the tools are here – the mountains, the desert, the ocean.
Living in New York will eventually turn you into a New Yorker – cunning, sharp, aggressive. Living in Los Angeles will simply turn you into yourself.