We're in Paradise


Everything you’re seeking, he said, you already have inside. We were drinking coffee on a small lanai in a small town on a small island. The coffee mugs though, they were huge, full of dark roast. It was raining in Hawi. We bought cookies to dip in the coffee. Once you realize this, he said, you see that you’re whole and complete as you are.

It’s so easy to see the truth when it’s right in front of you and it’s your day off and things are good because coffee and good company are sweet, simple pleasures. But the questions stay around, heavy like the rain in the north of the island. Almost constant. How can I be complete when all I want is another cookie? There are so many sitting on the counter just inside. We weren’t even hungry, only bought them because they were there. Why do I continually eat when I’m not hungry? How can I desire something I don’t even really want? Are the cookies vegan? Does it really matter? Should I be editing chapter seven instead of sitting in a café? Why do I have guilt every time I’m not writing? Should I read that I Quit Sugar book my sister told me about? Quit caffeine? Would it matter, any of it? Why am I listening to the noise in my head when I could be sitting nicely in a coffee shop like everyone else, just enjoying doing nothing until the rain stops and we can go back to the beach?

A bunch of backpackers sat down at the table beside us. Maybe I should be backpacking again, I said, take it easy for a while. Or go live in Maui, somewhere busier, get a good server gig at a hotel, save some money. Maybe I could go back to New York when it warms up, do another editing workshop. Maybe if I had my own apartment in a cheaper city I’d get more writing done. Actually, I said, I’d rather buy a van, drive across the country, not care about anything. We laughed because I could go on and on, and these things wouldn’t change anything that matters. We got more coffee.

I’ve never owned any kind of coffee maker. I have this image in my head, of this person who has her own coffee machine and a special mug. She’s so sane and productive and happy.

You’re fortunate, he said, you’re young and you’ve already learnt that chasing things or experiences isn’t going to give you anything you don’t already have.

He’s right. Though it did take me all of the last decade to come to this. Now I know owning a coffee machine won’t make me that person. I’m a creature of the west, I’ve never been deprived of anything. Chocolate chip cookies have always been my favorite. I was born blessed into freedom. I’m only now learning where that is.

We got a new sticker for the car. I use it as a mantra now. It’s not about Hawaii, or New York in the springtime. It’s not anything out there.