I can't count how many times I've been told stories
by people who
"have a friend who lives in Hawai'i,
and they just don't like it there."
"They're having such a hard time fitting in..."
"the bugs are huge..."
"the bugs fly..."
"it's so expensive..."
"the locals are rude to them..."
the list goes on.
I moved to Hawai'i because I wanted to and I recognize that for many people, they move there because they're told to (military, etc).
Because I wanted to move there, I willingly accepted responsibility for any discomfort I felt with experiences outside of my normal comfort zone...
and there were a lot of them.
For one, I was in a completely new culture...one founded on island survival, whereas I grew up in a landlocked state.
Also, I was far from my family for the first time in my life.
Another challenge? Living healthfully as a vegetarian in a place where veggies are sold at a price premium.
My favorite story in this category is the one in which I was named "The Yellow Hair Teacher"
by the students attending the school in which I worked...
because that's what I was...
the only person with "yellow hair."
Tons of it.
So yes, I understand that side of the story.
What I don't understand
is that when people tell me these stories of friends who
"don't like living in Hawai'i,"
I never hear about their friend's attempt to find joy where they stand.
Because at some point, we all have a choice:
Survive or Thrive.
Survival can be miserable,
and I sincerely don't intend to minimize the struggles of others,
but thriving in Hawai'i requires only a choice.
There are areas of the world where that choice would be much, much more difficult,
and I think that perspective must always be considered.
The reality of island living is that
all living things
Take this greenery, for example:
Some of the lower-lying bushes are thriving....bright green, thriving in the expansiveness of their being,
while the taller trees look barren, leafless, survival-mode.
They co-exist, side-by-side,
on the same island,
yet with greatly differing needs.
The trees don't have a choice.
They survive or they thrive.
We have a choice.
We can be miserable,
we can find the one thing (hopefully more)
that makes us want to get out of bed in the morning.
The thing that feeds our soul.
The warmth of the ocean,
the color of the ocean,
warm breezes on the face,
That's all it takes
to begin to thrive.
I think the most important lesson in all of this is about perspective.
Living in the United States, we are blessed beyond compare.
There is a perspective we lose when we are pushed outside of our comfort zones...
the perspective of how much worse living in other parts of the world can be.
In my life,
it's only when I'm pushed beyond my comfort
that I grow as a person.
I learn to find comfort from within.
"The zen of just being,"
if you will.
Here's an example of a thriving species in Hawai'i..
Sticky feet and all...
just eatin' all the bugs they can handle!
In my first Hawai'i apartment,
I had a "pet gecko"
who lived in my shower.
I named him "Tom"
for his peeping behaviors.
I love these little buggers...and I'm not a "bug person."
So when I hear stories from people who want to share with me what a miserable time their friend is having while living in Hawai'i,
all I can say is,
"I hope they find their peace,"
because I know what it is like to choose to thrive there...