I was thinking about my existence in this town the other day. Like what is this place all about? Why do I live here? What makes this place so special? I had a healthy internal dialogue about my existence and why I was doing what I’m doing here in this town. I know that I love the scenery because it reminds me so much of where I grew up in Hawaii. However, I felt the urge to dive into the details of the environment surrounding me, from the people, to the flora and fauna, and ultimately how my personal beliefs affect my actions in this space. I soon realized, after doing some research, that I live at a latitude where coconuts grow. For some reason this was a profound moment for me because I started to extrapolate the significance of it. I mean there are a lot of plants that exist in the world but the coconut tree is very unique. The City of West Palm Beach sits at latitude 26.7 Degrees N, just inside the mark where Coconuts Grow. (coconut palms grow between the regions of 20-27N latitude)
In reflection, I realize that why we do what we do stems from our beliefs. With that, history is telling of the environment we’re in and how it has shaped this region. This area’s history in particular all points to one man, a man who became the founder of the Florida East Coast Railway and the co-founder of Standard OilI was born in 1830, Henry Morrison Flagler (HMF), son of a minister out of Hopewell, New York. HMF is known as the father of Palm Beach and the grandfather of Miami. His accomplishments are numerous but during his time in Palm Beach he erected two hotels and spurred the first land boom throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. He was a pioneer in the company of likeminded pioneers Morikami, Singer, and Mizner and because of these men, among others, I can sit here and soak up the energy of this place and breathe my passion for entrepreneurship back into it.
If you know me you know that I don’t hesitate to say how remarkable West Palm Beach & Palm Beach are. I’m stimulated by the underlying current of beauty, creativity, and brilliance that’s exuded by the atmosphere and those residing in it. Even for someone that is not as well off as many of the people around me, I still benefit from the beauty of the meticulously landscaped vegetation of Palm Beach & Downtown West Palm Beach. There are a lot of public places where I can co-mingle with the lifestyle of the rich and famous but what matters most is the energy I receive by taking the time to soak up the nature surrounding me. The golden sunshine, the green parrots squawking, cool coco-water from a fresh coconut, the crystal blue ocean, and the loggerhead sea turtles hatching beneath the mounds of sand up and down the beach.
One of the coolest things, If your lucky enough, is finding yourself poolside at the Palm Beach Inn, now The Breakers Hotel, where you’ll be undoubtedly surrounded by game changers, innovators, moguls, entrepreneurs, tycoons, professionals, and well, a plethora of intellectual asset and resource. These people are drawn here by the same foundational movement that made this area so popular and it seems as though that some of these folks are so old that they never left.
I feel like society has come full circle from the fortunes amassed during the Guilded Age through the roaring 20’s then the crash of the stock market in October 1929. This areas resilience has been tested in the most trying of times in the 20th & 21st Century from the ’29 market crash to the 1935 Storm of the Century Hurricane, The Great Depression, World War II, assassinated presidents (Kennedy lived in Palm Beach), more wars, the market crash of 2008, and the Madoff debacle. Through it all I think we found that the natural beauty of this place, the fervor of the people and legacy of wealth kept it all together.
Jimmy Buffet sang a song about, “Changes in Latitudes & Changes in Attitudes” which depicts the emotional connection of the tropics and evokes a sentiment of relaxation and utopia. One would think that it’s not by happens chance that he lives here too.
Having spent my fair share of time in Hawaii as a child and more recently having traveled to the other side of the world and back I can confidently say that I’ve experienced enough to know what makes this place so special. The blue ocean, the active sea life, the weather, the coconuts trees, the parrots, and everything else that goes along with living in the right latitude as Jimmy Buffet so eloquently sang. This is as close to Hawaii as you’re going to get living in mainland USA.
Beyond the beauty is the people, the ones that are making their way in this market by carving out their own path like HMF and friends did so many years ago. I said earlier that we’ve come full circle because I feel as though the playing field has been leveled and I now represent one of those pioneers. As I approach my 30’s I can say that I know that the grass isn’t always greener and I feel as though it’s an honor to be able to make my way here in one of the most attractive places on earth. The fact that I’m literally writing this and thinking about punching the last few keys so I can go surfing before work is one of the biggest blessings I think I could ever have.
In conclusion, we live where coconuts grow so don’t forget that because they’re significant. You may have never noticed it but coconuts don’t grow much further north and that’s important to note because coconuts are a source of life for many people around the world. In my travels to the fourth world island of Sumba, Indonesia I was walking along the waters edge just past the water buffalo bathing and talking to a Sumba warrior named Tinus (which bought his wife with 8 buffalo). He pointed up to the hillside and said, “You see the big patch of coconut trees?” Yes, “That’s where the village is”. Water is hard to get in Sumba, you have to walk very far but fortunately coconut water is an excellent source of nutrients. Not to mention it is what they use to build their shelter among other things.
In closing, enjoy this beautiful paradise that we live in and don’t forget to look up every now and then when you’re standing on the sidewalk next to a million dollar home think about what that coconut tree represents to others across the globe.
To me the coconut tree represents Life, Protection, Resilience, Community.