The nature on Maui, as anywhere in Hawaii, is absolutely divine. Everything looks and smells amazing. The first thing that strikes you, right after the heat, is the scent of the ocean. You just want to go around asking people: “Can you smell that?” Then there are the rainbows. I don’t think I saw that many rainbows in my life as in less than two months on Maui. There was a double rainbow in the sky today! Beauty wherever one looks, a true paradise.
Until one tries to find a job, looks at prices, experiences the empty shelves in stores or receives a kind offer to buy some weed from a dealer in front of the store, around lunch time. There are three opposites here: indescribably beautiful nature, immensely wealthy people and very poor people.
There are a lot of people from California here and many that have had or still do work in the movie industry. Some of them come here to enjoy their money and some to have their eyes opened to a bigger picture then the motion picture one.
I talked to Doug today, a man who worked for a big movie studio. Doug was a costume and set designer, his wife was in the industry as well. “You can’t imagine how much money I made! I mean no one should be paid that much! There is no reason for that. Just one of my monthly paychecks would probably save an African country from starvation.” Doug looks and acts very average, not a trace of former Hollywood glory.
“Californian gluttony and access of every possible thing you can imagine is disgusting. I know that now, I didn’t see then.” Doug took a break and looked toward the ocean, he was probably recalling those movie set days. “By fifty, my wife and I made so much money, that we really couldn’t spend it even if we tried. It was just multiplying, so we decided to retire and move to Maui. We’ve been here many times before with our movie star friends, producers and the other members of Hollywood elite. I was so full of myself, I though I knew it all, I did it all, but little did I know…” Doug stopped again, scratched his beard and continued.
“We bought a big property and had to keep about a dozen employees to run it. Very soon after we moved here, I noticed there was something wrong in the picture. People were starving here, they were worried, they didn’t smile, they couldn’t pay their bills and the discrepancy between wages and prices was an abyss. I wanted to feel that myself, I wanted to know what it’s like, so I got a job in a store.”
He noticed my surprise, “Yes, I worked in a store! They paid minimal wages and I think one of my shoes was worth more than my entire monthly paycheck!” Not anymore though, Doug was wearing simple flip-flops, a Hawaiian button down shirt and shorts. “That was my wake up call. I mean these people are suffering and they are working hard, harder than I ever did in Hollywood. I felt their pain and injustice of the system. I decided I’ll do whatever is in my power to help them. I became humble for the first time ever.”
Doug did have an air of a humble, wise person, someone deeply moved by the injustice he had witnessed. “I learned something else; patience. There is no patience in Hollywood and no price tag. I came here and I suddenly started noticing that everything comes with a price and unlike most people who struggle with the lack of money, I struggled with the lack of patience. Nothing has to be done right now, not even if you’re about to die, then it’s probably your time anyway…”
“This is what you are facing here my dear. This is the reality of our tropical paradise. So I suggest you look around every day: smell the ocean, admire the waves, watch the sunset, look up into the stars and see the beauty where it really lies. See the beauty, don’t forget that. If you forget, this won’t be worth it and you’ll be gone before long.”
I don’t want to leave, I love it here. I feel the pain of the people and understand what Doug was talking about. I’ll do the best I can, I’ll make a point of noticing the beauty every day, of smelling the ocean, rejoicing over every rainbow, catch a wave or two and watch the sunset. For as long as I’m here, I’ll make it worth it.