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Stranger in Paradise

Confessions of a realistic pollyanna

In his book, Leaving Home, Garrison Keillor talks about being the first person from his home town to visit Hawaii. Others from his hometown, of Lake Wobegon, had tried to go there in the past, but mishaps had befallen them and they never quite reached paradise. Finally Garrison Keillor gets there. He says that Hawaii is truly a paradise but he figures that this paradise would be too much for his fellow midwestern townsfolk. Hawaii was too much of a good thing. They could not handle it. They might poke their heads in for a minute or so then rush back home because they felt overwhelmed.

I can understand how the folks of Lake Wobegon might feel. I have been luckily enough to travel many parts of the globe in my life. I have been to every continent except Antarctica. I have been to several of the great cities of the world. I may not have been to every place on my bucket list yet, but that list is dwindling. I consider myself fairly well travelled, but this is my first visit to Hawaii. And paradise is overwhelming here.

No I am not complaining. I am having a wonderful time. But it seems strange to be in a place where the temperature varies by so little each day. Rain comes for a brief moment then brilliant sunshine is all around. The birds sing and gorgeous flowers abound. There is also that spirit of aloha here where everyone is welcomed no matter where they come from or what their racial heritage is. It all seems to be a bit magical.

But my feeling of paradise is a bit tempered. I am thinking of work that was just beginning in Australia but is now over. I miss friends there. And I am thinking of starting over in Canada. How has it changed? How have I changed? I am also moving to a new province. How will life be different there? I am in paradise, but only temporarily. Soon I will go back to reality.

I also am aware that wherever large groups of people gather, we change the environment, and often times not for the better.I know that the traditional owners of this land and their ancestors did not expect this land to be dotted with high rise hotels and souvenir shops. I know that many traditions and stories have been lost or transformed to entertainment for western audiences. My feelings of an ideal locale are only made possible because other generations have lost a great deal.

Yet I have found myself in paradise.I know my stay here is brief. I know that even if I come back, I will only be a temporary visitor here. My life is in the real world. Still I am glad to have had a few minutes here. Blessings.

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