Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grape #10: The Perfect Dream

In advance of my first trip to Hawaii, I find myself daydreaming hourly about where I'll soon be, the sights I'll soon see, the tastes and smells and sounds that will wash over me like a warm, gentle wave.  I woke up early this morning to do some more research for my trip, and as my mind got lost in a forest of imaginary palm trees, I realized that not even Maui will be perfect.  Not a somber note at all, just a realistic reminder of the truth: perfection is too much to expect of a place or a person.

Can you imagine having to live up to that expectation?  People arriving daily on your little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean expecting everyone to be constantly smiling, constantly joyful, constantly excited to be alive?  I imagine it just might be a challenge that soon wears thin.  Yes, Hawaii is a beyond beautiful location on this planet, and yes, living there must bring with it a special grace and calm, but perfection?  That's a tall, very unrealistic order!
The word perfect comes from the Latin words per (through) + fect (do), so when you perfect something, you do it through to completion, you finish the task.  And that's why no human being, no life can be perfect.  We're still present participles, doing our life.  We're not done until we're done.  In the same way, no place can be perfect, because every place, like every person, is going through change constantly.

So what does it say about us that we constantly pursue perfection anyway?  It says that we believe in the possibility of perfection.  We believe that there is a better place out there, whether in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or elsewhere on or off this planet.
Maui's not perfect, but I get the impression it is more perfect than a whole lot of other locales.  The ocean water is warm, the plant life is more exotic and rare, and the location is far from all of the troubles of the world we usually inhabit.  Our jobs and bills are thousands of miles behind us when we arrive in Maui, and that automatically makes it a paradise of sorts.  But the laws of the universe and the facts of life do still apply in Hawaii.  People still get sick, they suffer with diseases, and they die.  Most of those who live there have their jobs and their bills and their money woes.  Paradise on Earth it just isn't.

Yet the Aloha spirit you feel in Hawaii is much more than just a way of hyping the tourist industry.  Aloha is about relaxing more and kicking back, not letting stress get the better of you.  And even when perfection seems like a far away place for native Hawaiians, thousands of people arrive every day with the dream of perfection, the dream of pure bliss.  And that, if nothing else, is reason enough to keep believing in perfection on Earth. 
A child's joy and anticipation of Christmas, a bride's elation that her wedding day has arrived, the exhilaration graduates face when they finish high school or college, and a vacationer's expectation of bliss as they arrive in the Hawaiian Islands.  Perfection isn't reachable, but the hope and dream of perfection is, and that striving is more than enough to feed and grow our endless dreams come true.

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