Monday, November 15, 2004

When I moved to Maui thirteen years ago, I promised myself that I would change my Mainland habit of working too much at the expense of enjoying my life. I wanted to slow down and take time to experience the beckoning beauty of paradise. The promise to myself didn't take very long to break, because in about a year I had taken-on many projects and responsibilities. Once again, my plate was over-flowing, and I was back in the rat-race... even if it was on Maui. I had to put the brakes on because work stress and burn-out were creeping back into my life. I have witnessed this same phenomena with others who move here as well. They bring their old habits with them.

Since the cost-of-living is so high on Maui, many people need to juggle two or three jobs just to get by. Gas prices are among the highest in the nation, and one measley lemon will set you back a dollar at Safeway. Those that find a way to remain living here fall into these categories: thrifty consumers; workers who put in long hours with multiple jobs; struggling businessmen/businesswomen, or else those who have money from elsewhere. Some lucky ones prosper here. Realtors have done especially well in recent years. It is the influx of those with money that have made Maui increasingly yuppified. In the years since I first relocated here, I have seen a marked increase in yuppies. Now they are as plentiful as hippies were in the old days. The times they are a-changing on Maui. We are looking more like Southern California every day.

I read about a newly released book today titled, "Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture." This book has researched the children who have become shoppers at an early age. Children 6 to 12 are visiting stores and shopping more than they are playing outside, reading, or hanging out with friends. These kids are into labels, dream about becoming rich and define themselves by the things they own and wear. This is troubling news. Will this happen to Maui children too? Will the funk leave Maui to be replaced with flash and bling? Will flip-flops have to have a designer name on them? The mind boggles at the vision of what consumer-driven children turning into young adults will do to paradise.

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