The American Dream, The Pacific Nightmare

Last week my father and I were having breakfast together. We usually eat with the backpackers at our family’s resort and say good-morning to the staff as they meander on in. All smiles and stories and many a minute late.

We have one staff member, our handy-man, who has an extremely socially tricky name. His self-appointed name is in fact … Ni**a. I have asked him numerous times if we could please call him something else. To this he replies… “No. Ni**a is my name. And I like it.” Hard to argue with that logic.

So, out of respect for this rational young man, I will now replace the *’s with his rightful g’s.

Anyway, on this particular morning Nigga walks past our table and Dad exclaims very excitedly, “Nigga!! I have some good news for you! I met this guy last week who trains people in interior design and painting. They have a course in Fiji. You would be internationally accredited!!! You could travel with work!!!”

Nigga was grinning at Dad, nodding along, looking seemingly elated.

“If I pay for it, would you like to do the course?!” asks Dad.

Nigga was still grinning…

“No thank-you!”

After a beat, Dad and I began laughing so hard the table took a good fist beating. When we got our breath back, Dad asked Nigga why he wasn’t interested. To which Nigga simply answered, “Because I am happy.” (As if it was that obvious.)

He flashed us that famous Fiji smile and walked off to have a cup of tea with his colleagues.

In an instant Nigga had turned something hilarious into something beautiful. Which just so happen to be my two favourite qualities of island life.


Some days I wish everyone would see the world through Nigga’s eyes.

Every day I wish the international ideal of freedom, prosperity and success, was not a constant drive of social mobility upwards and outwards…. that is only achieved through working your life away.

I wish these mentalities weren’t written in national ethoses, constitutions and prides.

I wish the American Dream was not the Pacific Nightmare. And furthermore still, I wish it would not inevitably wipe us out.

I wish that it didn’t take demise, the loss of cultures, families, laughter, love, land, whole countries, entire species, earth and our individual life-times, for mankind to truly understand that when we keep powering forward… we leave a hell of a lot behind.

Xx Matisse

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