The Problem With Santa Cruz

Michael Schreiber makes a good point on the weird Santa Cruz phenomenon of being too at ease. When I mention I'm heading in that direction, I usually get a bunch of astonished comments of the "why'd you leave?" and "why don't you stay?" variety. And yes, it's true, I traded trees for traffic when I transferred from UCSC to UCLA. But it was worth it.

Santa Cruz breeds a very certain sort of complacency. It's a beautiful enclave packed with rational liberals, adorable mystics, and restaurants where tofu is a viable culinary option rather than an ascetic sacrifice. That's all comfortable, no doubt, but it's hard to grow there, or it was for me. If you can afford it, when you're ready to relax and be satisfied, by all means, move to SC. But before that, vacations are your best bet. Living too easily can be its own sort of hardship. If you never have to argue a point, your mental muscles atrophy. If a place is so specifically set to your comfort zone, it becomes harder and harder to understand what's going on in the rest of the world. For me, that was a really dangerous dynamic and I had to leave it. Your mileage may vary. But Michael's right --you really can be too at ease.