On Hawaii, Ambition, and the People We’ve Been Before

But you don’t have to visit to know how hard it would be to show up here without a job and make it. You could move to Maui and work three shitty jobs and still have to take your debt and leave after two years. At the worst of the trip’s dinners, seated along the sidewalk of the quaint shops of Lahaina, I looked over and saw the busser, a guy about my age, strong, clean cut, apron mottled in the red, cream, and pink of ketchup and tartar sauce, posture and actions hostile. I had that job not too long ago. I know what it feels like to work for minimum wage, cleaning up other people’s uneaten food, to be at the bottom of a hierarchy of servants. I’ve known that humiliation, and no warm water or sunshine anywhere can make up for how that feels. It’s easier if you’re anonymous, but you can’t hide from pride.

Seeing the people that do live there, that seem to be making it, makes you question your status, and when the only status you attach importance to is the ability to move freely about the world, you can try to come to terms with your position, but how do you settle for living in a lesser place? How do you go through life not wanting everything?

I could tell you what I wanted and you wouldn’t know any better than I do how to get it. Not for yourself and certainly not for me. I might try for it with Work, Effort, Passion, Desire. These are nice ideas, but they don’t trump Time, Life, or Money. I have gone through so many phases of wanting. I have tried to be what I am and in doing so became someone I am not. Life is not a futile enterprise but it is impossible.

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I was an iconoclast once but let that part of me diminish in order to live more easily in the world. As is true for all men I wage a constant battle to keep my edge. Time dulls all blades. I’ve accepted it. The better we are in life the worse we are as artists. The world wants its writers Tortured, Maladjusted, Struggling. The hedonist never made a good artist. Despite the nice weather, the people here looked like they were hustling. But it’s hard to get a good read on the populace, not knowing who is local and who is bound for the morning flight to LAX.

What I knew I could identify flashed like billboard ads for Unrequited Love. The girls in rashguards and bikini bottoms ahead of me in the lineup of Pai’a Bay, the honeymooners on their after dinner beach walks in Ka’anapali, that one particular type of car she drove with two surfboards strapped to the top. I saw the girl I had loved once everywhere.

We are never given that which we want the most—and I’m realizing now that I left my feelings for her, along with my romantic notions of this place, there on the tarmac of the Kipahula Airport. I don’t love the girl anymore, and I don’t need Hawaii to be happy. As we taxied for take off, I wasn’t worried I would fly back to Korea, as I had from the bookstore in Paris where the kids slept on the shelves, tortured by the idea of leaving the place behind. On that plane off of Maui I felt liberated from myself. I no longer wanted rainbows and warm water, coconuts and sunsets. I wanted something far more impossible. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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