Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dixie Maru and Dolphins, Too

This is Dixie Maru Beach. Technically called Kapukahehu Beach, it got its nickname from a fishing boat wrecked there in the 1920s. It's a beautiful, quiet cove, an eight-minute drive away, that's become my favorite place to be. I swim, snorkel if it’s calm enough, read, put on my Chacos and explore around the lava rocks, looking for shells and drift wood. I usually only stay a couple of hours, but it's become both the highlight, and the most relaxing part of my day.

Sometimes when I'm floating above the rocky bottom, I get it like brand new news that I'm actually in the ocean, totally relaxed, snorkel mask on, breathing through a tube, swimming with the bright, colorful fishes below me. A small but otherwise enormous every day miracle.

Until four years ago, I was terrified to swim in the ocean. Both of the times I'd been to Hawaii, I had gone with the intention of overcoming the fear and had failed. If I was lucky, I’d make it in up to my waist, but no further, and only in extremely calm water. I even took a snorkeling lesson on one of our visits. The second I put my face in the water, my mask filled up and I thought I was drowning. I ripped the mask off, and faster than I’d moved in years was out of that beautiful Hanalei Bay water.

At the same time, I began dreaming about one day swimming with wild dolphins. It started when we got home from our first trip to Hawaii, and as impossible as it seemed, wouldn’t go away. On the second trip over, four years later, the desire grew even stronger—though I still couldn’t get in the ocean—and once back home, took on a life of its own. Nine months later I jumped off the back of a boat in the Bahamas, and swam and snorkeled with the beautiful, friendly Atlantic Spotted Dolphins that live off the coast of the tiny island of Bimini. Truly the most stunning, most amazing experience of my life.

It took every single second of those nine months to prepare. It started with the tiniest of baby steps: laying on my bed watching TV holding my nose, teaching myself to breath through my mouth. Then graduating to wearing the mask only, then the mask with the tube, still while reading or watching TV, then in the shower. The biggest step came when I took an actual snorkeling lesson at a dive shop and, with the wonderful and sweet coaxing of my about-seventeen-year-old teacher, in a huge leap of faith, let go of the side of the pool into the wonder of trusting the water.

Since then, besides the Bahamas, I’ve snorkeled in Hondurus, off Maui, and off the Big Island, on the Kona side, there also with dolphins. But until this trip, I’ve been way too scared to enter the water through surf, and to be in the water if I wasn’t snorkeling. In my second week here, I met three women who invited me to the beach. They all got in while I sat, afraid. They couldn’t believe that I could jump four or five feet off the back of a boat into the middle of the ocean, but couldn’t enter the water from the shore. I know! I kept telling them. But they encouraged and coddled enough, and finally, offering me a literal hand, got me in; by the end of the afternoon, even diving headlong into an incoming wave! Not big surf by any means, but deep, and enough that getting in and out was a little bit tricky. Once in, just the right amount of swell for a glorious experience. Perfect for my baptism.


When my sister and I were on Maui, we took on even bigger waves, then once back here on Moloka'i, we started going to Dixie Maru. Since she left, I've been regularly, and the more I go, the more I am in the water, the better, the more whole and healthy, I feel. Each time, face submerged, hot sun on my back, kicking gracefully with my long fins, held in the warm salty arms of the biggest ocean on earth, or just frolicking and swimming in the gentle swell, I am still pretty astonished.

The Maori of New Zealand have a saying: If dolphins come to you in a dream, it is not a dream, they have really come. Twice they came to me, and I woke the second time knowing it was a fait accompli; that no matter what it took, it would happen. Those nine months were the most magical, amazing, serendipitous months of my life. Besides the obvious, of course, each nine-month time I carried my babies. And just like with my daughters, the dolphins changed everything, altering the very course of my life. Having babies was the first time my desire for something grew bigger than the fear surrounding it. Twenty-two years later, the dolphins were the next. Since the dolphins it seems to have become almost commonplace. Certainly I wouldn't be on the adventure I'm on today, embracing the solitude and healing vibes on Moloka'i, spending the days in the water at Dixie Maru, flying along the north shore pali had I not jumped, trembling from head to toe, heart exploding inside my chest, out of the snug fitting box that I'd kept myself safely squished inside of and into the brilliant, clear-as glass, aquamarine waters of the Caribbean ocean.



With Aloha, from Moloka'i

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sacred Moloka'i

I woke up this morning to a sky striped in pale blues, pinks, and grays, and the air so fresh I knew it must have rained. Not a hard rain, which has only happened a couple of times in the two months I’ve been here (and even that wasn’t really hard, not like the rain we had while in Kalaupapa), but the kind that I’ve come to associate with this particular place on this particular island: a graceful, drizzly, nearly invisible veil of fine drops whipped sideways by the winds. The kind I always feel and smell before I actually know it’s raining, and that no matter what I’m doing, I stop, watch, enjoy.

I'm aware that today is the 23rd. As hard as I’ve been trying to not pay attention to time, I am aware that a month from today I will be on a plane heading “home.” Just the thought makes me weepy, and not even necessarily a sad weepy (though I wouldn't rule it out…), more like a profoundly moved weepy. I truly did not know what to expect in my time here, and if you’ve kept up with this blog, you’ll know the absolute truth of those words. But if I had, already it would have greatly surpassed any expectations this limited mind could ever have put on it.

I’ve struggled over the last few days trying to write about my experience, what I feel going on inside me, and the deep love and connection I feel for and with this island. The land is alive, and there is a spirit living and breathing here that is palpable, and that for some reason, I resonate strongly with. I have heard and now know from experience that Moloka'i has retained more of the the "old Hawaii" than any of the other main islands. And indeed, when I visited Maui recently with my sister, the differences were glaring, heartrending, and hard to take after living for almost two months in the "realness" that is here. As a visitor, I'm aware that I cannot truly know or speak to this "real Hawaii" though I can and do feel something tangible deep inside, something I'm not able to articulate.

The saga of this island and her people is a touching one. If you're interested in knowing more, here is a wonderful, short, video about Moloka’i. In the background is the music of Lono, a gentle, lovely, (sexy!) man (no doubt a Moloka’i prince) whose Old Style Hawaiian folk music, specifically his songs about Moloka’i, has moved me to tears. Twice so far I've seen him perform, and both times it has turned me inside out, where my heart, my soul, every cell of my body has been exposed and worked over by the beautiful instruments, melodies, language, and voice.

For more information about Lono, go to

(And btw, just what is it about a man holding, caressing and strumming a guitar that's so appealing???)


According to the video, pono is to be physically and spiritually in accord with the sacred. How simple, and yet how profound. Sacred is maybe the word I've been searching for that has alluded me. These islands are the sacred. Moloka'i is the sacred. Being here sacred.

All I can really say for sure is that I know big shifts are happening. To say I am grateful for my time here, for what I know is happening inside while I'm here, is not just an understatment, but feels woefully inadequate. Just like the vibrant, dynamic and powerful Pacific sculpts the incredible rock formations out on Kepuhi Beach, so she, Moloka'i, is fashioning me. From what, I have an idea; into what, remains to be seen. I am the clay, hers the strong, capable, loving, sacred hands.

And in those hands, as corny as it may sound, I just might be becoming the woman I've long wished to be.



With aloha nui, from Moloka'i

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lessons II... or... What Is It About Upstairs Neighbors

(A quick note: If you receive the blog posts via email from Feedburner (which by the way, I'm finding to be very unreliable), you may receive this one twice. My fault... I unposted, changed it a little, then posted again - though it's basically the same.)

After a month plus of such delicious quiet it was sometimes unnerving, I now have upstairs neighbors. Before I even knew anyone was up there, the friend I talk to everyday at the pool was letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. Oh, and was she excited. Debby, I have to tell you about your new upstairs neighbor!… On and on she went about how good looking this man is, all the while with the “have I got a prince for you" twinkle in her eye. Really Debby, just wait until you see him… if I wasn’t already married... she said, practically giddy with possibility. In five minutes I knew pretty much everything she knows about this man. Where he's from, what he does there, how long and how often he's been coming here, age (about same as mine), marital status (single), that he surfs, and did I mention how good looking he is… and that I told him all about you, what a fun and warm personality you have (what, no good looks on this end?) and he’s interested in meeting you???

So, of course, in spite of myself, the proverbial and very noisy wheel starts turning, the ball gets run with, in typical me fashion. Hmm… how interesting that of all the vacant units in this entire complex, of all the vacant units in “my” building, he happens to be right on top of me. Surely this means something. Surely this is fate… Hmm… in his fifties, single, apparently quite good looking…

And it doesn’t stop there, but drones embarrassingly, humiliatingly on: Maybe he’ll go snorkeling with me… maybe he’d teach me to boogie board… maybe he really is a nice guy… maybe he’s the kind of guy who sees people’s inner beauty… maybe it is kismet dropping him right there above me in an otherwise vacant building…

OH MY. What the mind does, all on its own.

But alas, it took, oh, about five seconds for me to get that not only is he not the frog/prince I’m (not!) waiting for, but he is quite possibly an out-and-out toad. I learned this because he talks constantly and so loudly he might as well be sitting in my living room. Which was the first strike, btw, the incessant and loud talking. But the fatal blow came when I learned, from his own mouth, him upstairs, me sitting innocently on my patio minding my own business (eavesdropping I believe it’s called) that he is a Howard Stern fan.

Stop right there.

I mean really, STOP RIGHT THERE.

First of all, who listens to Howard Stern????? And second, and most importantly, how is it that benevolent Moloka’i, my benevolent Moloka’i, created by the great mother goddess Hina, who welcomed my weary body and spirit with a stunningly gorgeous rainbow (the only one I’ve seen so far) as I sat on her cool sand my first morning here, who has nurtured and cared for me in such an extraordinary way not only welcomes a Howard Stern fan year after year, but then places him directly above me? Where I hear his every move, where his footsteps and his really annoying voice and his clop-clopping in his oversized flip-flops up and down the front steps like the Jolly Green Giant, unceremoniously wakes me between 4am and 6am every morning? Who seems to be hosting some version of realworld Moloka'i, who hangs out with possibly (from what I've heard) the west end’s most notorious party-er, who is also up there pretty much 24/7, who is apparently getting married soon and the bachelor shindigs have already begun, and whom I’ve already mixed it up with over noise before 6am, not to mention his off-color misogynistic jokes practically shouted at the pool. Mo, Larry, and oh yeah, Curly, Mr. Handsome's roommate, a seemingly quiet, possibly even cute little frog who somehow got mixed up with this noisy, obnoxious little band of outlaw toads.

I think it’s possible that my sarcasm is hiding (or not?) a tad bit of anger. Not, of course, that he’s turned out to be a toad, but that my peace, my quiet, my exquisite tranquility has been so shattered. Though once again, there are things that are not lost on me. Perhaps he is welcomed here because this is what he needs, truly. (Perhaps even more than I.) Perhaps it’s even what I need, an opportunity to remain open, grounded, centered, spiritually attuned, at home, even in the face of seriously unwanted experiences. For the truth is, it is easy (relatively speaking, of course) to be these things when the going is easy, when sitting in such a beautiful place, with such wonderful energy, without the normal daily distractions, issues, stresses. It’s much more difficult to remain open, accepting, centered, loving, etc., etc., to enjoy, when there is noise, chatter, disruptions, and yucky energy in the space. Though that, I'm told, is the true journey.

I know a man who “woke up” in prison. Who got it that he was free, even behind bars, and further, that if he could experience freedom even while in prison, he could experience it anywhere. His story has long been an inspiration to me, even now, years after reading about him and then finally meeting him. Or Buddhist monk and author, Jack Kornfield, who spent decades in the east becoming "enlightened" only to become immediately "triggered" once back home and back in relationship with family and friends.

And truly, can we really learn to sail if we do so only on smooth seas? Or does the learning truly come as we navigate the rough and stormy waters that are part of every ocean, every life. Obviously, even in paradise, shit happens. Case in point, toads not only under foot that I have to worry about navigating around, but toads also now overhead, ones that for my own good, it would behoove me to navigate if not with, certainly around, learn to coexist with, maybe even come to accept, possibly - long shot here - even open a little in compassion for.

When sailing, smooth water generally means no wind. No wind means no movement. No movement makes it difficult to "arrive" anywhere. Stormy seas, on the other hand, might either kill you or deliver you faster than you ever dreamed possible. And yes, I am aware that the storm brewing here is a tiny one, barely a blip on the radar screen. Yet because it comes during a time of such lovely calm, such beautiful tranquility, it seems ever so much larger and more menacing than it really is.

Now that I've gotten some perspective to help me along the way, I'll just go hoist my sail now.

P.S. I think I just may have caught THE toad and THE frog hanging ten just off Kepuhi Beach. How beautiful they are out there riding the waves between the Bougainvillea vines.

It's a good thing... I guess ;)

With Aloha, from Moloka'i

Friday, October 16, 2009

Home... & Some Unexpected Waxing... (as in philosophical, not bikini line)

Returning this morning from Kumu Farm, where I buy fresh papayas and apple bananas, fresh basil, and this morning roma tomatoes just off the vine, it was so clear out over the water it seemed almost like I could reach out and touch the island of Oahu. Rising bold and beautiful twenty-some miles across the channel, surrounded by the deepest blue ocean I think I’ve yet to see, a crown of clouds lying atop her highest peaks, it was as peaceful as it was breathtaking.

And as natural to me, as dear to me, as any vista has ever been.

I am very well aware that my time here is somewhere near the halfway mark. Maybe not quite, maybe already passed, I don’t know for sure, because I purposely don’t count and I don’t look at a calendar. From where I sit, somewhere on the continuum of my stay, I do know that there is not one cell in my body that is ready to go home. I can say that in part because it is so easy to be away now days. Free long distance phone service, email, all make it easy to stay in touch with the handful of people that I would otherwise sorely miss being away from. And I can say it also because this experience is just so agreeing with me.

In many ways, this feels like home now. Not only am I thriving in the beauty of this natural, aloha-filled setting, but also in the rich simplicity of life here. No restaurants, no traffic, no crowds, no pollution, no stress (well, except the new upstairs neighbors who are heinously obnoxiously noisy…). I am very comfortable, have my routine, even a small community of people who feel as though they’ve become friends—something I would have thought could only be a boon. Yet I’m finding a backlash in the loss of autonomy, and a breach in the solitude that seems necessary for me to reach in and touch the deepest places of my being—or let them be touched. To avoid others, I surprisingly find myself going off in different directions. To the other end of the beach in the early evening, to the places where no one else goes, the beautiful painting of the sun setting on water all the company or conversation I could ever need or want.

There seem to be more unanswered questions, more uncertainty about my life now than when I left. Just the opposite of what I expected. At the same time, I am aware that deep seeds of change-also unexpected, though probably hoped, maybe even prayed for-are being sown, watered, and nurtured toward growth. New habits, fresh priorities and perspectives, a growing consciousness of how I genuinely want to live my life... simple things that are simple here, though never, I realize, quite so easy back "home."

In the midst of my devastation at the prospect of moving out of my home, overflowing with sorrow and fear, a trusted friend told me that if we're grounded in Mother Earth, that we will always be home, anywhere, because ultimately, she is our home. She also told me that home is much more than a place, it is a state of being. It was enormously helpful to hear that at the time, and remembering her words in my first unsettled and unsettling couple of weeks here, I consciously grounded myself time and time again, whenever I thought about it. Just as I learned in my energy class, I would sit in my giant oak tree and send its fat trunk all the way down to the center of the earth. I would instantly feel stilled, centered in my body, and yes, grounded.

Now that feeling is almost effortless. Though I do notice that it can disappear as quickly, as effortlessly, as it arrives. I feel it most when I'm all alone. I'm aware of it when writing, when taking and uploading pictures, when snorkeling or swimming in the ocean, when watching the sun as it sinks toward and then ever so gently touches the horizon. I feel it when the mighty surf roars, when it trickles on the rocks with the melody of a babbling brook, and when it ripples almost shyly onto the hot sand. When I am lucky enough to see a nene (Hawaiian goose) scoot playfully across the road, have a giant sea turtle swim lazily next to me, be knocked to my knees by a wave I hadn't quite expected, be rocked on a boat, or cruising next to the highest sea cliffs in the world.

I am told that it is everywhere, this feeling. That some people shine with it even on their death beds. That it's not dependent on beautiful scenery, or oceans, or turtles, or good fortune or bad. It is how we are on the inside that determines the lens through which we see, experience and relate to life. How open we are. I have resisted this idea for as long as I've been exposed to it. Yet at the same time, I know that it is true. I also know that what happens outside can impact what goes on inside. Profoundly.

How much joy can you stand is a question my spiritual teacher asks often. Ad nauseaum in fact, to the point sometimes where I want to scream (and have!) Grasping my suffering as though my life depends on it, terrified to let go, seems somehow safer, more known. Moloka'i has given me the gift that even Isaac, my teacher, couldn't... the opportunity to really live that question - and to savor, and enjoy the hell out of it while I do.

I'll let you know if I ever find the answer... :)

With Aloha, from Moloka'i

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kalaupapa Tour





It’s hard to write about Kalaupapa. An amazing, beautiful, desolate, isolated, weather-and-sea-ravaged chunk of land where people with leprosy (now known as Hansen’s Disease) were exiled until death. Beginning in the mid 1860’s mostly native Hawaiians, from every walk of life, the very young to the very old, were snatched from their homes and sent alone to die, never to see their families and loved ones again. In the beginning, most of them arrived with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, and in spite of illness and infirmity, and without medical care, were expected to work to provide their own shelter, food, and clothing, in a wild, harsh, and unforgiving landscape. It took decades, and the work of dedicated humanitarians for conditions to improve and they did, though mandatory exile remained in effect until 1969, and the advent of drugs that arrest the disease.

Though the official “colony” no longer exists, and all former patients are free to leave, there are more than a handful, somewhere around fifteen if I remember correctly, who have chosen to remain in the only home they’ve really ever known. As it should be, they have a “life estate,” with all their needs provided for. It is now a national historic park administered by the federal government, and the only way to visit the peninsula is as an invited guest of a resident or as part of an official tour; the only access by mule train or hiking the dramatic switchbacks hacked out of the mountainside, 1700 feet down and 1700 feet back up.

Or the sane choice… by air.

There are two distinct areas of the peninsula, Kalaupapa on the west side, and Kalawao on the east. Kalawao is colder, wetter, wilder, heavily forested, with trickier ocean currents, and it was this side that was home to the colony in the early days. Not until sometime near the turn of the century did the settlement move over to the calmer, warmer, and more hospitable (relatively speaking) Kalaupapa side.



My sister and I visited six days before the canonization of Father Damien, now Saint Damien of Moloka’i, who arrived in Kalaupapa in 1873, and became an integral part of the community, bringing compassion and desperately needed humanitarian changes before eventually succumbing himself to complications from leprosy in 1889. He is a true hero here, and over 500 people from Hawaii, including most of the former patients still living in Kalaupapa, traveled to Rome for the ceremony.

It’s another touching aspect of a tragic and yet strangely moving saga. Given its history, we weren’t sure what to expect or how it would feel to be there, on the very ground where for nearly a full century such isolation and suffering occurred. Yet what we found was a peaceful and quiet community of small homes, churches, and gardens in a setting of exquisite beauty. The energy felt positive, easy-going, and life-affirming, and we marveled at the capacity of the human spirit to thrive even in the darkest of times, the greatest of miseries.

Nowdays daily supplies are airlifted in several times a week. For all other supplies, a barge arrives once a year, in summer. Included on the barge is a year's worth of gasoline, and the price is set that day and remains in effect for the entire year. Imagine... once a year the only opportunity to receive anything too big to fit into a small plane.

Our day there was beautiful. Warm and sunny while on the Kalaupapa side, then pouring buckets of cool and wonderful rain while we sat in the covered pavillion on the foresty Kalawao side eating our lunches, staring through the maze of drops out at the trees and the ocean beyond. We were moved, humbled, and in awe, and it was truly, one of the most amazing experiences either of us has ever had.

With Aloha, from Moloka'i

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Adventures in Paradise II

Yesterday was truly an amazing day. Not only did my sister and I have the opportunity to fly into and tour beautiful Kalaupapa Peninsula, home of the former Hansen’s (Leprosy) Colony and some of the most stunning scenery we’ve ever encountered, but afterward, I was lucky enough to get to sit in the front seat, next to Rob, the pilot of our 9-seater Piper airplane as we took off from the peninsula, circled back over for a bird’s eye view of the volcanic crater, cruised along the stunningly gorgeous pali (cliffs) of Molokai’s north shore, and then Hawala Valley, at the island’s eastern edge. From there we headed over to Maui and down her resort-lined western shore, made a big u-turn just south of Kaanapali, landing at Kapalua Airport to drop off three of our passengers. We then took off again (me still in the front, YES!), crossing the channel between Lana’i and Moloka’i, returning along Molokai’s south shore, flying over where I kayaked a couple of weeks ago, over fishponds and Father Damien’s “topside” churches, over the town and harbor of Kaunakaikai (where I helped watch KP2 just a week ago), and finally returning to Moloka’i Airport.

Not only not bad for a former aviophobic, but absolutely magical, and pretty much one of the greatest thrills of my lifetime. Not to mention truly a milestone. I was not nervous for one second of the trip, not on either of the takeoffs and landings, not even when we banked so steeply and pretty much buzzed the peninsula so that we could see nearly all the way down to the emerald green lake far below inside the crater. Not only not nervous, but like a kid in Disneyland for the first time, giddy, and yet at the same time, hyper aware and centered, quietly marveling—one, simply at being there, and two, at the grandeur of what we were witnessing.

It had poured rain for about forty-five minutes of our tour. Luckily it came just as we were finishing up and getting ready to eat lunch at the covered outdoor pavilion. The drops were huge, and we got soaked just walking from the bus to the eating area (I hadn’t realized the tour included a wet t-shirt contest!) It was fun and refreshing and came with a big bonus—falls running as we flew by afterward that wouldn’t otherwise have been running. Delicate fingers of lace cascading gently down the sides of the green pali into the deep blue sea below.

Simply outstanding.

I notice the temptation to feel angry at all that fear has kept me from for such a big part of my life. And yet, had these things been everyday occurrences, it would not have felt as miraculous, as adventurous, as other-worldly. Without the thrill of dancing on the razor's edge, it could not have knocked my socks off the way it did. And having one’s socks knocked off adds a whole other dimension. Besides the fact of flying and gorgeous scenery, it adds the magic. The magic that, hours and hours later continued to buzz inside me as I lay down to sleep, the experience coursing through my veins, a part of me still in that tiny cockpit, with the roar of engines, the amazing buoyancy and feeling of flight, the incredible scenery, and Rob’s confident and knowledgeable voice as he pointed things out and told me about them.

Here are the pictures that I took (except the one of me, of course!) from inside the cockpit. I hope you enjoy them even a fraction of the amount I enjoyed taking them! Next up I will write about Kalaupapa itself, far more important, far more touching, a far more enduring human story than Debby’s Great and Marvelous Adventure ever will be. And yet, it is my story... personal, profound, and life-altering...

Captain Rob

Me, in the cockpit, rainy day hair

The crater of the volcano that formed the peninsula

Out to the ocean...

Truly stunning scenery...

Tiny beautiful falls

Banking... exhilarating!

Landing on Maui - Kapalua airstrip

South Shore, Moloka'i

Returning home

A huge thanks for Rob at Pacific Air Charters for an amazing experience!

With Aloha, from Moloka'i

Friday, October 2, 2009

Maybe I Should Just Have Named This Blog "Perspectives"

I sometimes forget the state I was in before I came here to Moloka’i. I forget that there were hours on end when I couldn’t stop crying, days where I couldn’t get out of bed, months and months where I could not listen to music, and could not do something as simple as getting out and going for a walk. I forget that for more than a year, almost two in fact, I pretty much experienced two states: I was either so overwhelmed with emotion I could barely function, or I was numbed out, in the “dead zone” that allowed me to continue to get up most days, go to work, and function as a relatively normal person. I forget that from the moment I first consciously allowed the real thought that I might not want to stay married until very close to when I left for the islands, I did not know if I would ever again be okay; and in the time just before and all the months after I moved out, I did not know—truly—whether or not I would survive.

I forget that I came here with one hope and one hope only, which was—which is—to heal.

And it is happening. I feel it in my eagerness to wake up each morning, in my lighter step, in my off-the-chart excitement that my sister is coming to visit (tomorrow!!). I see it in how turned on I am by rain, by the beauty of its drops on flowers, the way it falls so warmly gentle on my cheeks and hair. I am aware of it when I am taking pictures, how I stand perfectly still, in one spot, for long moments at a time, waiting for the exact right shot, and then can’t wait to get back and upload and see them. I know it when I am swimming laps (who would ever have thought…???), talking to wild turkeys, geckos, the full moon; when spontaneously singing to my kitties, and when I laugh out loud… which is, remarkably, often. Though somehow, in my mixed-up, perfectionistic, fairy-tale indoctrinated mind, I thought, especially after the magic captured me during the first couple of weeks, that it had happened. Overnight. Wala,I had arrived: fixed, cured, healed. All sadness, sorrow, uncertainty, disappointment, and despair swept clean away, and I will now, thank you very much, live happily ever after (even sans a frog/prince :).

So when funks come on—and they do—I lose perspective, and start thinking nothing is happening. So here’s a reality check for me (and the reason, I’m sure, that I am writing this). And I know these things, I just forget them, too. So, how about instead of “I came here to heal,” I came here to begin to heal; how about healing is a process, one that after the significance of the losses I experienced, could well take some time; how about funks will happen; how about emotions are as changeable as the weather (okay, bad analogy given that the weather here doesn’t actually change very much), but you know what I mean; how about I accept each and every moment, just as it is, without judgment, without story, without extrapolating some sort of inaccurate and inciteful (as opposed to insightful) meaning. How about I open up to the possibility that even the moments that feel crappy, that feel like nothing’s happened or is happening, that nothing ever will happen, might be essential, and might hold some sort of gem, a gold nugget, the prize in the cracker jack box.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Yesterday I received this poem, forwarded from a friend back home~

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

- Jelalludin Rumi

Even as I allow more visitors than ever that knock to come in, have a seat, and stay for tea (hell, spend a night or two, a few months, years, while you’re at it), I am aware that there is still so much resistance to anything other than what I think I want. And I simply, like a child, endearingly, want not just everything I want, but want it now. Right now, if you please.

I met a man at the pool the other day (definitely a frog, as opposed to a frog/prince…), who asked me if I was here on Moloka’i for as long as I am to find enlightenment. I couldn’t help myself, I laughed out loud. And then laughed out loud some more, and then some more. He looked at me puzzled, and asked why I was laughing. I couldn’t speak, just laughed some more… and then gave a little shake of my head and floated away on my back, earplugs in, head underwater, relaxing into one of the most full and mysterious silences I’ve ever known.

Enlightenment, I thought. Right. I couldn't tell him how much simpler it was than that. That all I really want is to feel alive again - preferably on a pretty regular basis. Anything more than that would be gravy.

Aloha Nui, from Moloka'i