Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Trying To Be A Paradise People
One of the goals I had on our trip to Nicaragua last fall was to try my hardest to be a paradise people and not feel guilty about it. What better place to practice than paradise?
I read Garrison Keillor’s book Leaving Home when I was in college, and ever since I read the story about the church ushers who don’t go to Hawaii, I’ve been striving towards being a paradise people. I grew up in Minnesota, and it is clear that my people are not naturally a paradise people.
GK’s story is about a group of church ushers from Lake Wobegon who save up enough money to fly to Hawaii to attend the finals of the Ushers Team Competition at the National Church Ushers Convention. The group ends up not advancing past the semi-finals so they don’t go to Hawaii.
Although they were going to pay their own way for the trip, they couldn’t just fly over to Hawaii for their own pleasure. No, they are Minnesotans and Lutherans, and they need a good reason to visit Hawaii – a complicated web of circumstances that will practically force them to go all the way to paradise. As GK writes, “God knows you don’t want to go to paradise, but you got to. There’s no way out of it. It’s that kind of deal.” This is because our people “aren’t a paradise people.” Nope, not a paradise people. “We were brought up to work hard, not complain, accept that life is hard, and make the best of what little we have, so when we come to the grandeur and grace of an eternal flower garden ringed by mountains beside the pale-blue coral sea under continuous sun, we naturally say, ‘Oh no thanks, it’s too much, really, I don’t care for it, just give me some ice, please.’”
For the most part, I was able to fully embrace paradise and just enjoy myself while we were there. It’s sure a lot easier to be a paradise people when you’re actually in paradise. But, before we went and after we had returned, I found myself justifying to people why we could even go to Nicaragua. We had frequent flyer miles I had to use before 2012 and it is very affordable once we get there and Ometepe Island is a sister island to Bainbridge Island where Andrew grew up and we picked our dates based on when we had vacation days from work so we didn’t have to use too much annual leave and… a complicated web of circumstances that forced us go.
Rationally, I know I don’t need to justify the trip to friends, family, coworkers, even strangers, but guilt is not a rational emotion.
Are you a paradise people? If so, have you always been that way?