How to make the perfect human

The Thinker by Rodin

I just got back from Hawaii and I am still decompressing. Or rather I am compressing since in Hawaii the whole point is to decompress. Certainly losing five hours from my day yesterday from jet lag is compressing my day in a very real sense. So it’s welcome back to cold and snow. It was nice to leave our hotel and never have to worry about having to wear a sweater.

There is a lot about my vacation that I will document elsewhere. But having returned from Hawaii (my first visit) I have been wondering about how environment effects behavior. I am sure Hawaii has its share of narrow minded and obnoxious people, but I didn’t encounter any of them. Perhaps there is something about living in a beautiful spot that makes for nicer people naturally.

Now it could be something about spending most of my time in tourist areas. Maybe in order to get a job in Waikiki, for example, you must past a rigorous test where you must prove can smile all the time as if you mean it and you don’t know an unpleasant word. But I don’t think so. I think it really is environmental. There are the five big islands and that’s about it. To get back into the madness of the rest of the world requires a 2500-mile flight. Looking out your window every day is a treat: blue skies, seas full of the deepest blue, aquamarines and green, temperatures that rarely get below 70 or above 90, rainbows … what is there not to like?

Clearly Honolulu and its vicinities have its share of urban woes. Housing is costly, and locals often work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. Traffic on H-1 can be a bear during rush hour. There are lots of dead end jobs. I thought about the lady at the parking garage working the midnight shift on Christmas. But it doesn’t seem to matter. Mood is infectious. We spoke with hundreds of service workers and locals over the course of those nine days and they were all not just pleasant but happy and genuinely glad to talk to us.

It’s the way it should be perhaps. It’s perhaps as close as we are going to get to a true Garden of Eden here on Earth, in both a literal and metaphorical sense. How did things go wrong for the rest of us? Or what happened on Hawaii to make things right? And how do we replicate it to make the rest of our world a more peaceful, loving and friendly place?

Hawaii: mahalo and aloha. I will be back!

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