Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Ridiculous or the Sublime... You Decide


It’s just before dawn, and it’s the stillest it’s been in the nine days I’ve been here. No movement, not so much as a whisper of a breeze ruffling the palms. In a few minutes, I hear the birds begin, and am reminded again how much I love the way morning arrives here. First the stillness, then the second act, the cacophony of bird chitter, twitter, chatter, and song. Coming from all sides, truly, I know I’ve said it before, but honestly, swear-to-god, it really is stereophonic. There is one bird in particular, usually the last to sleep at night and the first to wake in the morning (though mostly quiet during the day), whose song from far out in the tree-covered hill has a distant, unusual, echo-y-like, rolled-sounding, almost haunting quality, which goes non-stop while it goes, and that I know has already crept beneath my skin, and taken up permanent resident. Before I leave I will learn about that bird; I’ll know what it looks like, what it’s called, what it’s habits are.

I’ve been here a little over a week now, and looking back, I am amazed. I’m not quite sure what’s happened to the woman who dragged her exhausted self off the plane nine days ago, lugging overweight baggage filled with sorrow, regrets, disappointment, failed dreams, unanswerable questions. The one who, on first sight of this place, felt her heart sink uncontrollably and who wanted post-haste to re-board and fly away back home.

People have asked me what my days look like. They are so simple, it borders on the ridiculous (or the sublime…): I get up, I do what I am moved to do in each moment, at the end of the day, I go to bed.


I walk, I sit by the ocean, I shoot pictures. I write, I upload and organize my pictures, I meet and talk with people, hang out at the pool. I meditate, which for me means sitting still, doing nothing, preferably with eyes closed. I eat less, think less (this one deserving a post of its own), I drive slower. Now and then I get in the car and explore. Oh yeah, and I haven't dried or done anything other than run a comb through my hair since I got here (thank god & Jessi for the new, short do). You have to know me well to know how utterly revolutionary this one is.

I am learning things: to shop and prepare food for myself. To clean up quickly and thoroughy lest the ants coming marching in (which they do anyway). To hide the bag of kitten food in my zipped up suitcase, again to protect it and me from an army of ants. I'm learning to always watch while the kittens are eating, so the big Tom doesn't come and scare them away. I'm learning - oh is it hard - to be patient with the little white one cuz I just want to pick her up and hold and cuddle her. I'm learning that there is a very quick and fine line between an unripe papaya and an over ripe one. I'm learning to pay attention, real attention, with my eyes, my ears, all of my senses. I'm relearning to swim, something I’m pretty excited about, that my body seems a bit cranky but mostly thrilled with.

I notice things: dragonflies, the color and shape of clouds, the way frogs hop across the patio in the morning, the slow, deliberate walk of the not-so-wild turkeys; the way the pure white egret floats gracefully to a perfect landing, then walks gingerly through the overgrown grass; mangoes hanging one on top of the other, kukui nut trees, the colorful canes of the bougainvillea. How blue are the eyes of my favorite kitty. Every sunrise and sunset, the gigantic black bees, the unusual snails. How deeply dark the nighttime is. I pay attention to what is natural and what is not, slightly ashamed for loving so much of what is not; namely the landscapings of bright, gorgeous tropical flowers and trees, the green grass.

I am more at peace, more content than I have been since the week I spent four years ago on a boat in the Bahamas swimming with wild dolphins. And that was the most peaceful, the most mindless I have ever been in my life.

There is some sort of magic afloat here. Something that is so far beyond me, it’s not funny, and that feels, in a word miraculous. And it probably is. Something about this place, so far removed from anything, where it seems impossible to dwell or hang on to anything that does not serve. Where now is really all there is or ever will be.

Oh, and by the way, the joke's on me. Here's what I'm not doing much of: reading. Maybe half an hour a day, an hour tops. It goes to show that we never know, we just have no clue what life will bring. Right now, when what I mostly want to do is take pictures, write, take more pictures, it's bringing me two big boxes of books that I mailed to myself before I left, that I imagine will remain unopened to be remailed before I leave. What reading I'm doing seeming to want to be of the "real" variety; memoirs, books about Moloka'i, about life in Kalaupapa.

We're so unknowingly, so innocently, arrogantly assuming sometimes. The best laid plans as they say... I can't help but wonder what would happen if I just stopped, as much as possible planning, and let life unfold, much as it does here, in its own way, on its own timing, with its own perfection.

With aloha, from Moloka'i

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