By Sam Keller - January 27, 2021
When I first came to live in Tahiti, I fell in love with the island as I once did with the woman who is now my wife.
During the initial phase of the relationship, I was enamored by the beauty, blinded to the faults. Tahiti struck me as the paradisiacal place that is so often portrayed. Yet now my love for the island (and for my wife) is based on a fuller understanding of its nature.
Now I know that many of the sailboats I see anchored in the lagoon, oftentimes beautifully silhouetted against the setting sun, are abandoned. The owners skipped town without paying for their disposal. They are ghost boats, giant pieces of floating garbage.
Now I see the plastic trash fill the lagoon when the heavy rains hit.
Now I know that the warmhearted people of French Polynesia experience one of the highest rates of diabetes on Earth.
Increasingly, my eyes are opened. And yet so is my heart.
Now, I look to not just enjoy this island society, but contribute as well. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with the French Polynesian government to inspire more Americans to come work remotely, thereby contributing to cross-cultural understanding and the economy.
Of course, I must admit that the pleasure here continues; in fact, it, too, has deepened.
My evening routine now includes a sunset swim with my 6-year-old daughter Sienna. We live partway up a mountain, so our pool has a sweeping view of the ocean. Since it's rainy season, puffy low-lying clouds form above our house as air passes over the mountains behind us. As the sun sets, the clouds become illuminated with mango-colored light, diffuse and encompassing, causing everything to glow. As a result, the sunset isn't just out on the horizon, it’s all around us. My daughter and I are both cognizant of the magic, of the glory. Her facial expression is one of glee, with obvious, palpable love for her daddy. And I, too, am like a little kid. The field of love and joy seems thick and real enough to touch.
In these moments, despite the shortcomings of this world, Heaven couldn't possibly feel any better.
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