I've had several conversations lately with other malihini.
The consensus seems to be that it is hard to live in Paradise.
Is that extraordinarily odd?
We have all made painful sacrifices to move here--leaving family and friends and familiarity back on the mainland. It's expensive to ship your car and all of your stuff. It's hard to find a job that can keep up with inflated rents and $7 a gallon milk (as expensive as Manhattan on a quarter of the income!)
I know heaps of people who are desperate to move here-- who fantasize about their lives as they would be, surely, in Hawaii. The haole mainlander Hawaiian music officianados I met through slack-key camp are positively fervent about Hawaiian culture-- weeping openly about the fate of King Kalakaua and about the beauty of Aloha. People feel compelled to come here, to fulfill their dreams. People come to become cocoa farmers, to thaw out, to relax, to restart their lives.
And then they get disillusioned, and according to a Hawaii Public Radio report, leave again. Last year more people left the state than moved into it.
Moving here, living here and leaving is all so loaded with hopes and disappointments and expectations. Malihini come here, chanting to themseleves, "If I only lived in Hawaii, I could open that little shop, I could grow my own food, I could get away from my past, I could connect with the earth, I could live a good life."
Does it actually make sense, that given everything your heart desires (perfect weather year round, beautiful pristine beaches, roadside lei stands and blooming aloha everywhere you look) the real grain of your desires shows through, and you realize that what you really desire actually has nothing to do with weather?
If everything you want was sure to be in paradise, but you're still unhappy once you've got your toes in the sand in the palm tree shade, the question is, if not this, then what?
What do you want?
It's dangerous to tamper with the illusion of paradise: it's much safer to wish for it from a distance. Nose to nose with want you want you might discover you have nothing left to wish for. Metaphors for happiness evaporate with a resounding hiss and you're left with either a profound emptiness or a sort of zen completeness-- a satisfaction in the loss of desire.
Some people recreate home in the image of paradise: ah, the mountains, the wide open spaces, the bustling city. Paradise sloughs its palm trees and dons pines and ski slopes, or high rises and cafes.
The sun and the ocean and the green rolling hills: Does happiness not actually have anything to do with where I am, but some other quality of self? Something deeper than my sunburn?
Is it a fisher king problem, that given everything we would desire, we turn away from it, only to spend the rest of our lives limpingly looking for the thing we once might have had, but lost?


  1. Beek, beautiful and true. Do the people who come chasing dreams and then leave go away with an increased self-awareness or sense of what they really want? Or is it all just disappointment? Probably a mix. Maybe that's what arriving in Heaven's like, too. "All of that for this? We have to work here, too? And where's my friggin' halo?"


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