I think it’s safe to say anyone crazy and ambitious enough to start their own company must have a passion for their product, in our case – socks; and their brand – America is ours. Not only do I kind of, sort of love standing out in a crowd and drawing a little attention to myself; I love my country. I am also one of those prideful Americans who thinks his country is the greatest in the world.
Now before any foreigner reads this and jumps down my throat about the laundry list of problems with this great nation (and the candidates we choose to represent us) there is a lot that is great about this place. I get it, from a political, economic, and moral standpoint we aren’t necessarily the guiding authorities we have been in the past, but it’s near impossible to argue there is a nation as rich in natural and manmade beauty as the United States. There are freedoms people the world over have sought to find. Let’s face it, amidst the crazy events going on here, you don’t see people fleeing left and right to seek out the “Estonian Dream” or the “Sri Lankan Dream”. Heck, even the Book of Mormon, a record of scripture recorded by the ancient inhabitants of the American continent suggest this supreme truth as well.
2 Nephi 1:5 “…we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands…”
I’ve had the privilege of visiting all 50 states (and Washington, D.C. of course), a dozen foreign countries, and have lived in both the northern and southern hemispheres. I feel I’m seasoned enough to make the claim America is the greatest country in the world.
Alaska became my 50th state this year
I’m assuming there are a few people that may be interested in having me rate all 50 states and provide some detail as to my experiences there, and that will come at a later date. As for now, I just want to share three short stories from my brief time here on earth to evidence the love and appreciation I have for America.
As an LDS missionary in Houston, Texas I served on a two-year, full-time proselyting assignment where I shared my beliefs with others (within and without my faith) and provided unplanned service as often as possible. During that time, I was privileged to teach a young man from Burma named Kwe Moo. Kwe was a refugee who had fled from Burma to Thailand on the back of an elephant after government sanctioned attacks on his village forced him and his family to find safety and a livelihood elsewhere. Due to his young age and ability to work, he was allowed to come to America as a refugee while the rest of his family stayed behind in Thailand. On many occasions he expressed his appreciation for this nation and the peace he felt being able to live and work unabated from his government or other nations. While no one knows what the future will hold, I too I am blessed I’ve been able to live, work, and worship according to the dictates of my own conscious and I’m grateful everyone living in this country has been afforded that same privilege.
Yosemite National Park is quite possibly my favorite place on earth. I love the grandeur of the vertical granite rock faces, the solitude that can be found there, the wildlife (one of two places I’ve actually seen a bear in the wild), and even being without phone service - for a short time anyways. Within the park stands a mountain rightfully called Half Dome which separates men from boys (unlike Everest which separates men from crazy men). The first time I hiked Half Dome I was 12 years old. At the zenith of the mountain are cables fastened to the granite to help you ascend the 60 degree incline up the backside of the dome about 200 yards to the apex. I reached the base of those cables after an 8.5-mile hike and I began to quiver at the thought of climbing to the top. I was resolved to tap out and watched all but one of the other boys from my scout troop climb to the summit without me. Though no one rubbed it in afterward, I felt ashamed on the one hand and determined on the other to come back to that point and face my fears. One of my favorite attributes of this mountain is that unless you’re insane enough to free climb the vertical side of the dome, there isn’t another way to the top besides those cables. No matter how rich or famous someone is, there isn’t another way. No helicopters, no ski lift, no pack mule. Everyone has to personally hike the 8.5 miles and then muster the courage to go the last 200 yards limb over limb to reach glory. When I was 16 I finally made it to the top and have been back 5 times since. Every time I reach the top and gaze out at the near mile drop off into the fertile valley and have my breath taken away I’m reminded of two things: the best feelings in life are free of charge (if you discount the gas to get there, the cable permits, the food anyways); and more importantly the best goals in life are earned. No one is going to apply for your dream job for you. No one is going to ask the woman of your dreams out for you (probably). No one is going to lift weights for you (which also wouldn’t do much for you physically). No one is going to start your business for you. We shouldn’t want it any other way. I’ve learned that from living in America. While there may be wealth inequality I still believe you can be anything you want to be. We live under a system of government which provides a climate for anyone to overcome challenges to pursue and fulfill dreams, however no one is going to do it for you and we shouldn’t wish for them to either.
As I mentioned earlier I was fortunate enough to live in the Southern Hemisphere for a handful of months. While in Queensland, Australia I experienced what I never thought possible for me: culture shock. I’d lived in several different states previously and had travelled extensively, but driving on the wrong side of the road, discovering some of the staples in my life (graham crackers, sunflower seeds, Dr. Pepper) were more difficult to find than the gold the Knight’s Templar hid in National Treasure, and lastly finding my American humor wasn’t very funny overseas I was left longing for home just a bit. Haven’t we all felt that way in the States at some point? Whether we were born on a farm in Iowa, the mountains in Utah, a big city back east, or a beach town in Florida, doesn’t it just seem familiar and comfortable to be back home? Regardless of how long you’re away or whether you’ve successfully acclimated to your new surroundings (which I did by the way – Australia is wonderful), there really is nothing quite like being home. You can take the man out of California, but you’ll never take the California out of the man (or get him to stop bragging about In-N-Out Burger).
It’s easy to tell, especially from the last account, why we are so passionate about our brand. The State Mate represents a culmination of experiences and adventures which have led us to find beauty no matter our surroundings, but never forget the places we’ve came from to get there.
Love where you’re from.