In April of 2010, my wife and I went on vacation to Maui, Hawaii. We left a snowstorm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for palm trees and Mai Tai’s. As soon as we got off the plane, we felt “something” we couldn’t explain.
Our trip was life-changing. We experienced what they call the “Aloha Spirit” in Hawaii. There was a laid-back, less stressful attitude towards life. On the plane ride back, we joked about moving to Maui someday.
We got home and the craziness of life too over. All the moving-to-Hawaii talk faded until April of 2012. On a cold Wisconsin evening, I got a call from my grandfather letting me know my father passed away. We weren’t close, but his death was a shock. We would never get a chance to repair our fractured relationship. That would be the end of the story.
After his death is when we got serious about the kind of life we want to live. We made plans to step outside of our comfort zone and leave the only life we had known, in Wisconsin. We officially made the move to Maui, Hawaii on April 8th of 2014.
This week, we celebrate our one-year anniversary. Many people move to Hawaii every year, but don’t make it. They say the first year is the hardest, and we’ve survived!
Conflicting thoughts have been running through my mind this week. The most difficult part of a move like this is the distance from family. We miss them so much every day and got a little reminder as we watched the Wisconson Badgers beat Kentucky.
Despite embracing life here in Hawaii, I’m still a die-hard Badgers, Brewers, and Packers fan. I can’t stand the Milwaukee Bucks, however. When I watch the games, I feel a connection to my place of birth and where I spent 33 years of my life. It’s like having the best of both worlds.
1. Live a regret-free life. The move to Maui was and still is hard, but Hawaii was a dream that we would have regretted not trying to accomplish. Leaving family was and is hard, but living a life of no regret was a promise I had made to my father before he died.
2. Life is short. When you experience death, you learn how short life is. You realize that time is the one thing we’ll never get back, and we only get one chance to live it. While stepping outside of your comfort zone is hard, the alternative can end up being far worst.
3. Sports mean something different to each of us. Sports are fun to watch. You cheer for your favorite team and feel a kindred to other fans–it’s like you’re part of an exclusive club. When the Badgers beat an undefeated team, the first thing I did was connect with fellow fans on Facebook. The day after the victory, I talked to my aunt who’s a die-hard Badgers fan, we enjoyed a great laugh over sports. It made me miss our family a little less.
4. Sometimes you need an escape. When you spend 40 hours of your week working, you need an escape–especially if you’re doing work you don’t enjoy. The stress you experience compounds over the week and watching your favorite team win or lose helps distract you–even if it’s for a few hours. Those little escapes help keep you from exploding.
5. Connecting is crucial. As men, we dig being loners, we want to do our own thing. However, you need connections with other humans. That connection teaches you things about yourself and helps you grow as a person. Sports help you connect. It can be watching the game with your buddies or sharing exciting moments through social media or a phone call. You unite over an event like the semi-finals of the NCAA.
We miss family but love life here in Maui. We made the right decision for the kind of life we want to live. I miss my father but am grateful for the life lesson he taught me in his death.
I’m writing minutes after the Wisconsin Badgers beat Kentucky; they play Duke on Monday. I don’t know if they’ll win or lose, but I’ll be cheering with my family and friends. No matter what happens, it will still be a connection to people I love.
Photo: Author’s own