Living daily life in a Hawaiian vacation state of mind

I’ve been to the Hawaiian island of Kauai a few times, and while I am not a fan of sun and heat, I am a huge fan of the way a lot of people there live. I’ve consistently seen folks of Kauai being kinder and more courteous than people anywhere else in North America, even in high tension situations like rush hour traffic. I’ve also seen lots of large families having get-togethers and bbq’s on the beach — they seem to really value quality time together. And I’ve seen a lot of older people being really active, like surfing and even doing sit-ups at the beach.

I think all of that is amazing. Those are things that I value greatly, and things that I feel get lost in the hectic madness of the North American world. We’re always so busy trying to get ahead, get better jobs, make more money, and buy nicer stuff, that we neglect the stuff that actually makes us happier — like being kind, spending time with people we care about, doing fun things, and staying fit and active.

But what I don’t understand is that most people go to places like Hawaii for vacations to get just a short taste of what life is like when those things are prioritized over rat race stuff. They spend a week there, relax, have a great time…and then head home and jump right back into the rat race.

If people like the pace of life while they’re on vacation in Hawaii, if they like it so much that it’s what they want to escape to when they have some time off, why don’t they just incorporate some qualities of Hawaiian/vacation living into their daily lives so they get small doses of it all the time?

I don’t know. I think probably because we don’t want to stand out from our suburban neighbours and look like some sort of lazy hippie weirdos. And I think it’s tough to change your habits. And I think most people aren’t self-aware enough to realize that they could be much happier and healthier.

Personally, I think most of us would benefit from a bit more of a Hawaiian vacation approach to our entire lives.


I looked up “family on vacation” pics and found this. Not what I had in mind but I’ll run with it.


hawaii is weird

jenn and i recently spent 2 weeks on the island of kauai. this was our third time going there together, and it was as much fun as ever. we always do lots of hiking, exploring, meeting nice folks, snorkeling, laying on sunny beaches, all the usual shit you do in tropical places.

but this time, i was acutely aware of a few things that i found intriguing. first, i was amazed at how universally magical that place is. i mean, i don’t even like the tropics (i hate heat and intense sunlight) but even i was moved countless times by classic hawaiian tropes. like one night on a drive home from the north shore, we stopped at a beach. the sun was going down just then, painting the sky all kinds of lovely colours. a bunch of locals were still in the water surfing. the moon was already out and particularly bright white that night. it reflected nicely on the giant rolling waves. the air was warm. it felt like i was living in a scene from a hawaiian postcard, or one of elvis’ hawaii movies. it was a moving, touching time, and i was grateful to witness it. it struck me that if even a sun-loathing cynic like myself could be so touched by what i saw then, it’s no wonder everyone else flocks there. and there were lots of moments like that. i wonder if there’s something in our DNA that makes people love the tropics so much, or if it’s just the result of marketing and propaganda. probably a bit of both. anyway, that evening on the beach reminded me of this great pornos for pyros song.

the next thing i thought was neat was the culture of the locals. people there (not the tourists, of course) are so fucking laid back. for instance, people in rush hour traffic in kauai don’t tailgate or flip birds or yell at each other. they slow down and allow other people to merge lanes, giving lots of friendly waves. it’s an amazing thing to witness, so different from here. the small local shops are loose about the hours they keep, and relaxed in their approach to customers. there is no high pressure salespeople hovering around you. usually the staff is more like a friendly stoner who is just hanging out there in case you need a hand with anything. families spend lots of time BBQ-ing and hanging out together at beaches. i find it all really inspiring. it’s nice to see people live slower, simpler, happier.

something i noticed that i didn’t like was how, despite the magic and slow pace of kauai, you could still tell the place was very much american soil. it feels like the US is only too happy to have a wild, tropical paradise in their possession that is convenient for every fat, old, white american to visit, where they can still feel safe. you just know that none of those gross whales would ever go to cuba or brazil. it’s almost like hawaii is a zoo where old white people think they can see how primitive savages live and even get a taste for it, but without ever being put in a scary situation where they might have to deal with terrifying non-americans. i wonder how the locals feel about the hordes of such mainlanders coming over and feeling at home just because they’re technically on american soil, even though it’s clear that at its heart, this place is very, very different from anywhere else in the US. i bet the locals hate it. i know i would.

hawaii isn’t a place i can spend a lot of time — it’s too hot and sunny, too many tourists, and too many people in general — but it’s a god damned fascinating place that inspires a lot of mixed feelings in me.

it’s new years eve…

…and i feel weird. i don’t know what’s up but i’ve felt like this over the entire holidays. nothing has been bad though. this last month has actually been great, with a trip to hawaii full of amazing, memorable moments, and lots of good times with friends and family. yet throughout all of that, i’ve felt some kind of vague uneasiness. it feels like i’m not quite depressed but right on the brink of it, like it’s just hanging around the outskirts of my mind.

what’s worse and totally counter-productive is that this makes me feel guilty. i feel guilty that i seem to not appreciate the wonderful things i’ve been lucky enough to experience lately, even though i DO appreciate that stuff. i’m sure that, in the future, i’ll look back on this month very fondly: beautiful hawaiian sunsets, sneaking into the posh resort’s hot tub at night, finding baby tortoises, expansive views of hawaiian islands, dancing with pals to my fave retro tunes at festivus, relaxed xmas dinners with mine and jenn’s families, casual get togethers with pals — and tonight, new years eve at drew’s party in vic.

for the most part i feel pretty good about all of that, but i’ve also been quietly dwelling on a lot of the little negative details about all these things. the heat in hawaii was tough for me to deal with, some pals didn’t make it to festivus, our friends are all split up doing different things tonight…these are the kinds of minuscule things that have been bothering me lately.

i definitely worry about losing touch with old friends due to physical distance, gradual changes in our respective values, horrible choices in significant others, that sort of thing. but that’s not new. i think about that stuff a bit normally and it doesn’t usually bother me much, so i don’t know why it’s lurking about in my mind so much and having a greater effect on me lately. same with the heat in hawaii. fuck, i can deal with heat without getting stressed about it normally.

so i don’t think i have any good reason to be on the verge of feeling depressed. i wonder if there’s some physical/chemical reason for it, like my body is not producing enough serotonin or something lately. who knows?

and what can i do about it?

nothing really, except keep living like usual and wait so see if i feel normal again soon.