If there’s one thing that I’ve come to embrace wholeheartedly in the past two years, it’s that change is inevitable. As a resident living in one of the most transient cities in the states, change has become so commonplace in my life that, to not be in an environment that’s in constant flux feels downright strange.
So, you can imagine how caught off guard I felt being back in an environment that, with few exceptions, felt like time had forgotten. Set along rolling hills of pastures dotted with sheep, horses, and cows, the south side of the Big Island, known as Ka’u, is one of the most isolated and least developed parts of Hawaii. I’ve been heading to this part of the island for years to visit my grandparents. Things don’t change all much over here. The sounds here are timeless: the pitter-patter of rain falling on the corrugated tin roofs, the chickens crowing throughout the day, the whir of cars and mopeds passing down the street.
For me, this area is the epitome of rural America, with a Hawaiian-twist. Like any other rural region, Ka’u suffers from similar issues shared throughout rural America: subpar healthcare, limited education and job opportunities, and abandoned homes due to depopulation. Despite these challenges, a tight-knit and strong sense of community and a feeling of simplicity are some aspects of rural life that I greatly admire; however, being back here affirms my belief that, regardless of the challenges that arise from change, I need change in my life. Places that lack change, at least for me, feel both limiting and stifling. It might not always be for the best, but change, whether positive or negative, always presents opportunities for growth. And for me, as a young twenty-something just trying to figure out life, growth is all that I can ask for.