In 5 hours’ time, I leave the state of Hawai’i and return to “normal” life. I take with me memories, new shirts, and less money than I brought.
I have perhaps been here 2 days too long. Perhaps it is that I miss the comfort of my own bed, though I have slept better here in Waikiki than in many months at home. Perhaps I want to simply sit on my couch and enjoy those things I have put into my home to entertain me. But those things are merely objects, it is my use of them that gives purpose and meaning. this can happen anywhere, and the computer I use to type this works equally well in both locations.
I think perhaps it is the veneer that affects me the most. 1 mile from the beach here is a decaying city like any other in the United States. Hawaii’s #1 export is Hawaiians, and replacements rarely bring with them new means of support other than “we’ll open an XX store on the beach and never work again.”
Unlike our home, there are very few empty shops here. Not on the beach, anyway. A mile away there are plenty, for much the same reason they are vacant in Seattle. There is not enough money to go around, and when locals cannot afford local products, those items cease production.
Our 50th State is a model for Manifest Destiny. On the pretense that the island chain was needed to wage war against a country on the other side of the planet, our great nation reached out its hand and finished what a greedy group of its citizens started 5 years previous by overthrowing a peaceful, responsive, and democratic monarchy in favor of a “Committee of Safety.” A century later that same nation apologized publicly for this gross abuse of power.
Today, we see doomed citizen’s measures across the islands hoping to halt exploitation, reserve farmlands and preserves, and keep Hawai’i Hawaiian. Water, power, people–all dwindle steadily and are replaced by imported versions of same, which in turn further reduce the state’s self-sufficiency.
Paradise was nice to visit. Especially the quarter-mile strip running around the island next to the water. Surfing, sailing, sitting and snorkeling are fine activities, but they do not pay the rent. They are a reward for hard work, one that focuses the soul towards a state where every day can be lived care-free. One cannot live on gravy all the time–there must be meat to the meal.
It’s time to go home. Back to the caves, back to the real. Back to clocks, and schedules, deadlines and deliveries. To a place where the rain is cold and lasting, where life has more meaning, but less sunshine.
Paradise is not lost. It is left behind. In this place a world away from our lives is a cautionary tale–Pay attention to the things around you. Make sure you can always enjoy them. Make sure they can be shared with others.
Paradise is not a location, it is a concept. A fleeting glimpse of how life could have been, and a reminder of the Price of Progress.
Like most important things, it is best experienced with eyes open, and remembered well, but wisely.
Aloha, and Mahalo.