The California Experiment

By A.G.Billig
Jul 20th, 2016

Huntington BeachHave you ever heard of  “The California Experiment”? This morning, while drinking coffee on the patio, facing this sun, I had this idea: what if we shifted from a mindset such as what can I get from you mindset to what can I do for you?

I don’t know about you, but for a long time meeting someone new – whether at work or at a party, was about gaining an advantage. About what that person could do for me.  Men had to offer their love and support, business contacts, ways to climb up the social ladder, friends, good times and a shoulder to cry on. If these criteria were met, I would consider doing something in return or helping them. I know it sounds awful and, indeed, it is.

But something happened. I have spent the last three weeks in Southern California. Being a beach, sun, and ocean person, drawn to light and nature, every day felt like a miracle. If the outside world is a reflection of our inner word and if what goes around comes around, I may have done something good in my life.

With Vishnu from Vishnu's Virtues

With Vishnu from Vishnu’s Virtues

There is not one single thing I can point to as being negative. The streets, the beaches, and even the homeless are clean. The garbage is well – stored, out of sight. Nature blossoms everywhere.

Despite what you may think, despite the political circus, southern Californians (the one I’ve met in the L.A. and Orange County area) are kind, open, friendly, and polite. That’s what I love mostly about this place (not to mention the surf boards in every backyard). Taking the bus to Huntington Beach, many were those who thanked the driver while getting off.  I’ve never experienced such a thing in Europe. From the Japanese couple who explained to me the concept of love to Vishnu from Vishnu’s Virtues – a fellow author who brought me a gift each time we met and Donald – the black giant with a tender heart who showed me how to ride the waves on a boogie board, everyone offered their gift without expectations. They all taught me the lesson of being happy for seeing other people happy.

So what if we put to work what president Kennedy once said – ask yourself not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country – in every aspect of our lives? What if we shifted our mindset from receiving to giving? What if we realized that giving doesn’t rhyme with less but with more?

What if we simply paid attention to the people around us and loved them and supported them, no expectations and strings attached?

That’s what I call the California experiment. The project of love. It starts now. It starts with you.

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