Sometimes people tell me how lucky I am to live here. And they’re right! I feel lucky every single day. But, it’s not something anyone couldn’t do if they just made up their mind to do it… and then actually did it. That’s the kicker — the actually doing it part. A lot of people always say how they want to do certain things or they wish they could do certain things or they’re going to do certain things, but often the follow-through isn’t there and that follow-through is what gets shit done.
I left my family, friends, and the “secure” business I’d built up, sold my car and all the stuff I’d acquired to build my previous island “home” (and it was pretty cozy), and moved 5000 miles to an island I’d never set foot on before. And I think it was the best move I’ve ever made (just like all of my other moves…) It’s the eternal summer I’ve always dreamed of. It fits my barefoot tropical-loving soul like nowhere else I’ve been.
It’s paradise. But also…
It’s hard. It’s lonely sometimes. There’s no Trader Joe’s. Sometimes you find centipedes in your bed. Radio reception sucks. Rentals are tiny and high-priced. I’m a minority. Everything is more expensive. I’m 5000 miles away from family. The dating pool is small and consists mainly of beach bums, who, as my accountant would say, “have burned out their brains by being in the sun too much.” (I’d say there’s something a little stronger than the sun responsible for the brain burning…) Certain things that you don’t think twice about having on the mainland don’t exist here. It’s stressful. Honolulu traffic rivals that of LA. Getting even simple tasks done are rarely simple and can be extremely complicated. It most often feels like another country rather than the USA. There’s no air conditioning. Ants are an intrinsic part of your home life. There’s tourists everywhere.
But, it’s paradise. There’s a price to paradise, right? And if it’s your paradise, then you’ll figure out a way to make it work. It’s really quite simple. Buy a plane ticket, and go. Cut corners. Figure out what is and is not essential. I don’t have cable service or even a TV, a fancy car (or a Smart… that was one of the hardest things for me to give up), I quit going out to bars in the evenings and rarely eat out or buy alcohol, I don’t have a gym membership (I do work-trade arrangements instead…I spend 2.5 hours every week cleaning locker rooms), or a bed, or any piece of furniture that cost more than $50 on Craigslist. I cut my own hair, paint my own nails, and brew (and sell) my own kombucha and make my own peanut butter, two of my staples that are uber pricey for as much as I go through them. I rarely buy clothes, and if I do, it’s from Goodwill or Salvation Army. I don’t mind eating rice and beans every day of the week. I never go to movies. A fun, relaxing day for me means a day spent hiking through the rainforest or discovering a new ridge trail, rather than a day out to lunch with friends, shopping, and getting a massage or a manicure. I have one pot, four spoons, and a rusty set of knives I picked up for $5 on Craigslist. My best friends and I hang out at the beach or each other’s homes (or boats) rather than going out, and string up our hammocks in parks behind concert venues rather than paying for tickets (exception: The Expendables. I’ve missed seeing them every time they came to town for the last four years. I was there. Risked my life to make my way to the front row.)
I don’t lead some sort of charmed existence that just magically landed me here. It’s hard. I wanted it, so I made it happen. It’s been some of the loneliest, hardest, best, most challenging, and most rewarding days and weeks of my life. I have been blessed, and I am lucky. I recognize and am grateful for that, always. But when people say “You’re so lucky”… “I wish I had your life”… “I wish I could move to Hawaii and have adventures”… they’re not seeing the lonely nights, the anxious nights, the scared nights, the nights where I’m broken down on the side of the road with no one to call; the shitty traffic and grocery bills that result in me leaving the store in tears; they see the pretty, glamorous, post-card side. Which is definitely there 🙂 But, there’s always more to even the most picture-perfect looking life. I’m learning that more every day, and always like to get to the story underneath… the deeper story… the real, raw story. It’s never perfect, it’s rarely glamorous, but it’s authentic. And that makes it beautiful, no matter what the circumstances.
If there’s something you want to do, calculate the cost and decide if it’s something you really want, and then figure out what’s holding you back. Stop using the words “wish” or “maybe” or “someday”, and make it happen. You are the biggest thing holding you back from whatever it might be that you want. It goes back to that old adage, “You’re the problem, but you’re also the solution…” Everything you need to paint yourself a new reality is right there within your grasp. Don’t be afraid to start painting 🙂
(By the way… it took me a long time to compile that list of “negatives” above. I’m a pretty huge Hawaii fan, and contrary to what most people tell themselves as an excuse to not do the things that they want to do but would require risk or sacrifice or huge change or loss of comfort/security, anyone can do it. But please don’t, unless you’re a member of my family. There’s enough people already; if the whole world were to come here, we’d sink.)