momentary revolutions

At this moment, in two weeks, I’ll be departing to California.  I can’t figure out if it’s because I’m leaving or if I’ve just learned to be a happier person, but these past few weeks have been amazing.  Shortly after I decided to move, I made the conscious decision to live in the moment and enjoy myself as much as possible until I leave.  I understand that it may be a while until I return to Hawaii and I may never have the chance to live here again; I want to spend my time relishing my Hawaii ohana and the immense beauty that surrounds me.  Outside of work, I’ve been mostly surfing, spending time with friends, gardening, hiking, etc. Of course I’ve spent time packing and taking care of the particulars of moving, but I’ve been able to simplify the process due to choices I’ve made.

Making this choice to live in the moment has been revolutionary for me.  I normally would be suffering from crippling anxiety and instead I’ve decided not to worry about my future until I have to.  I’m going to let life unfold in California when I get there.  And I’m not afraid.  I feel like this is how I’m supposed to live – moment by moment, trusting myself – and I have somehow now just learned this at 39.

A word that has come to mind lately is “liberated”.  I’m okay with not knowing the future.  I’m okay not knowing if things will work out or not when I move.  I’m okay with trusting things WILL work out…whether it’s in California or elsewhere.

The bigger question is…what will I call my blog???

 

 

Leaving Aloha? Nah, I take it with me.

I started this blog exactly five years ago, five months after I moved to Hawaii from Washington, DC.  Strange how I felt the need to write something here after 1.5 years of nothing.  Though maybe it’s not that strange considering I’ve recently decided to move back to the mainland in March and one of the drivers behind starting this blog was my move here.  I suppose you can say it’s been a long time coming, but to many it has been a bit of a surprise.  I still haven’t completely come out of the closet about it, as it increases my anxiety levels and can send me spinning.  What I don’t want to hear is: why are you leaving? why would you leave? do you have a job? don’t leave! (and so on).  I have no idea how to answer these questions and when I do I feel at a loss for words.  Conflicted captures how I feel quite well.

Yet, the excitement of starting over somewhere new (yet familiar) has taken ahold of me.  After 15 years away from California, I’m ready to go back to the place I consider home.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get to know my family as an adult and to be close to friends I’ve been apart from for years.

Hawaii has been exactly what I needed these past 5.5 years and most definitely what I needed after 10 years in DC.  I can truly say it’s been nothing short of amazing.  I’ve experienced much loss and heartache, but being surrounded by such beauty and amazing people has transformed me into what I like to think is a better person.  Of course I could have had similar transformations elsewhere, but Hawaii does have a magical way about it.

Sadness comes over me as I think of leaving all this behind, but it’s time.  And there’s no saying I won’t be back, there’s always that possibility, though my entire being knows it’s time to go.  I wonder if I’ve always known this as I’ve never truly let myself settle in here and I’ve lived my life as if I’m passing through.  On many levels I wish I could have made it work for me, but I realize I want something different, at least for now.

Oh Hawaii, you will always have a place in my heart.  When I close my eyes I’ll see the crystal blue water, sunshine reflecting off the surf and green mountains in the distance.  I’ll imagine myself on a beautiful sunny day, paddling for a wave, popping up and gliding down the face, hearing the powerful rush of the wave breaking behind me.  I’ll see my friends sitting on their boards next to me as we wait for a set to come in, laughing and smiling.  I’ll never forget you Hawaii and all the joy and laughter you’ve brought into my life.  Mahalo!

 

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One of my favorite spots on the island: Diamond Head Lookout.  Oh how I’ll miss you…

 

Befriending a tiger

Sitting on the cliffs at Portlock Point never fails to bring inspiration.  It’s difficult not to be inspired; you’re staring at an endless sea in one direction and town and Diamond Head in the other.  The swell was big and unruly today.  Feeling the ocean spray hit my skin cooled me off as I did yoga on the cliffs.  I felt like I was in a yoga DVD.

I sat on the cliffs and took some time to listen.  Not to the waves, but my mind.

Today I heard a buzzing chatter in the back of my head.  It’s a symphony of thoughts, feelings, anxiety,  fear, sadness, anger, anticipation and who knows what else, that has become unconscious background noise.  When I took a moment to notice, is when I finally heard silence.  What then?  Do I listen?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

So why don’t I listen?  Am I afraid of what I might find?  Sometimes I bubble over in joy (I like those days).  But in my experience, more often than not, it can be painful to peer inside.  What we hide are the things we don’t like to feel; the things we don’t like to believe we are capable of feeling.  Often loneliness, sadness, anger, fear, shame.  What some would refer to as their “dark side”.  We all have one.  But not listening does not make these things go away.  It’s like a tiger that lurks inside.  You can befriend it and accept your co-existence or you can pretend it doesn’t exist.  What is scarier is not knowing it exists at all.

The tiger feeds on lack of awareness. When you don’t take time to acknowledge what is going on, it will manifest itself in one way or another; usually unconsciously.    It may strike out when you least expect it; sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle.  Whether it injures others or only yourself, you are trapped in its cage, subject to its whims.  I’ve learned this the hard way and continue to do so, and will for the rest of my life.

It sounds so cliche, but I can’t help but think of the novel, ‘Life of Pi’.  I read it a few years ago and recently saw it on a flight from LA.  As I read the last chapter my heart fell as the real scenario of his 200+ days at sea was revealed. What? I was shocked and felt misled.   Pi wasn’t stranded on a boat with a tiger, he was the tiger.  The dreadful loss of his mother, the murder of the sailor and the eventual death of the cook … was the entire story an elaborate tale he made up?  A better question to ask is, did it matter?  Maybe not.

The truth of Pi’s story is not explicit, but how I’ve personally interpreted it is that he experienced the trauma of losing everything, just a teenager, and had murdered the cook for survival – and he had to come to terms with it.   The murder was completely justified and necessary to survive, but its hard to believe we have it in us to kill someone.  At least physically.  And the grief of loss; the kind that changes you forever. The enthralling story he told is his way of befriending his tiger.  And the line about, “what story do you want to believe?” rings true.  The truth of who we are, what we’ve experienced  and what we’ve done sometimes deserves a new story.  A fantastical, brave story of heroism.  Because befriending your tiger and accepting who you are is just that.

Solace as a place

Wherever I live I try to find a place where I can find solace, usually involving somewhere in nature.  When I lived in San Diego, I spent hours on the cliffs overlooking Blacks Beach.  My favorite time was dusk when the ocean turned a golden iridescent color. As the sun sank toward the horizon, the reflection shot back toward the shore, creating a blinding golden path.

Cliffs of La Jolla, Blacks Beach

When I moved to Washington, DC, I struggled to find that place, particularly due to living in an urban center with more buildings than open space.  DC is known for it’s numerous parks and which helped, but it didn’t quite make up for the ocean.  I found myself going on runs to the National Cathedral.  Partially because it was only 2 miles away.  But there was a beautiful English garden there that I’d spend sometimes hours at.  I would lie on the wooden benches in the early evening and stare up at the majestic building before me.

National Cathedral Garden

National Cathedral at twilight

I have been thinking about where that place is for me in Hawaii and what resonates most is Diamond Head.   I suppose not many people around the world can say Continue reading

Living on the rock

May 1 2012
Hawaii Kai
Portlock point

It’s amazing to be standing on the very end of an island as the water
rushes by. I watch the swells surge around the rocky point to my left,
glimmering in the moonlight. Knowing this very water is circulating
into gyres and passing through to thousands of other islands, other
continents, feels powerful.

That we are here, on this rock, just a piece of land in the middle of
nowhere, is… humbling. To each and every one of us on this island, our lives are so
valuable and important.  Our obsessions and material possessions
consume us.  To the ocean we are nothing: a tiny speck on its path.

I like feeling small. It reminds me of the simpleness of life.

source: Unreal Hawaii

Gas, liquids, solids and surf

Pretty amazing how chemistry can practically bring me to tears.  Memories of being in high school and not “getting it” come to the surface and I feel like I just can’t do it.  But I have to in order to graduate.  I’m sitting here, glaring at my chem book and sipping seltzer water.

Been surfing a lot in the past week.  I feel like I owe it to myself to get back into it.  The last time I surfed regularly was over 10 years ago and I may as well be a complete beginner again. The past year I’ve been in Hawaii I look at the waves almost daily and I want to be in waves, not just observing them.  I think it’s time.  We’ll see how long it lasts, but I hope it stays with me.

I am not sure why I threw myself back into school this fall so quickly.  I wanted a distraction and I had no idea what else to do with myself.  So I walked forward in the only direction I knew how to at the time.  So here I am.  Crying over chemistry.

Driving: drunk on the cool evening breeze.

Driving home from a friend’s house this evening I found myself thinking of late nights when I’d drive up Pacific Coast Highway in San Diego from La Jolla to Del Mar and beyond.  The ocean was a shimmering black with frosty white waves crashing up toward the shore.  I’m not sure why these memories surfaced, it’s been over 10 years since I’ve lived there.  But I imagined driving with the windows down, my favorite music blasting and the wind in my face.  The air would be cool and crisp as most southern California evenings are.

I am pretty sure what spurred such memories and sensations was rolling down my window tonight and feeling the cool air rush in.  It’s been so hot lately in Hawaii and I haven’t felt the cool night air since last winter.

These drives served as a form of therapy.  Late at night, the roads were completely empty with no one around.  There were long stretches of road with no stop lights or stop signs and I’d drive for miles and miles.   I realize here in Hawaii I don’t really have that option.  I could drive toward Hawaii Kai or even up to Makapu’u for a nice drive, but it doesn’t feel the same.  Hawaii is a relatively small island and driving there would be like going half way around the island.

I miss living on the mainland.  I want to know I can drive forever if I wanted to.

Beautiful underworld

I long to be in the ocean, feeling the water swirl up around me as I descend.  Diving and snorkeling have been a soothing distraction these days.  When I enter the underworld of the ocean I am immediately in awe.  How could I not be distracted by the beauty?  And the silence. I love it.

As a child, many of my drawings were of mermaids.  I was obsessed with them.  I wanted to be a mermaid or at least be able to breathe underwater.  Sometimes I still daydream of being a mermaid.

From the surface, you would never know what lay beneath the water.  Once you enter, it’s a completely different realm.  I want to live there.

 

Learning a new way to be

When it’s hot, I like to jump in the pool for a quick swim before I go to bed. I swim the modified backstroke, looking up toward the stars as I glide over the water.  I feel like a water bug that juts across streams and ponds, practically walking on water.  Blooming plumeria trees fill the air with a wonderful aroma – one of my favorites.  I see heads peaking outside their windows: who is in the pool this late?

I was swimming on Sunday at Kamainas, thinking of my mother and hoping to see a honu (sea turtle).  That if I saw one, it would somehow be a sign.  Of what? I don’t know.  But I love sea turtles and without sounding too corny, I think they are very special.  Shortly after, I looked down as I swam and there is the biggest honu I’ve seen at Kamainas directly below me.  It was feeding on some of the algae growing on a large rock.  Most of the time, they swim away once a human is hovering above them.  But this one just stayed there, floating around the rock as I ducked down below to get a closer look. Perhaps it was older, wiser and understood it was a protected species.  As if it knew we weren’t supposed to touch or harm it.  Or maybe Continue reading

well, that was a bad idea

Chemistry and biology at the same time during a 6-week summer session was most definitely not the greatest idea I’ve had. Therefore, I dropped biology yesterday.  What a great decision it was!  I appreciate my ambitious nature but I was beginning to question my sanity.  It has been a long and exhausting summer.  Or more like a long and busy spring that bled into summer and hasn’t stopped since.

A bit sad right now that the wonderful elation I was feeling from my time in Mozambique has significantly waned, mostly due to overwhelming myself with school and work.  Only back a little over 3 weeks and it feels like it never happened. But I trust it will come back.  Amazing experiences always Continue reading

Name change

Ka'ena Point, Wai'nae side Oahu

One of my new favorite past times is walking down to the beach and floating in the sea. Stretching my legs and arms into a T, closing my eyes, and feeling the hot sun on my face.  The world around me is silent.  I can hear myself breathe.  Suddenly, my mind goes blank, worries dissolve and I imagine myself drifting out in the middle of the ocean, the only person in the world.

So decided to change the name of my blog.  I didn’t really like the previous name and figured it would be temporary.  I am not sure I like this name either, but I do like to float on the surface of water.  It works best in the ocean because of the salt water of course, but if you hold your breath, it works in a pool or lake too.  I also am unsure I can say I’m a humanist.  It sounds a little pretentious to me (as does do-gooder).

I believe it’s very much possible to be a humanist and hedonist.  I’m not even sure what that means but I like to think it’s caring about the well-being of “humanity” (including human dignity) and enjoying (and prioritizing) life’s pleasures.  I hope to grow in balancing both.

Maybe a future blog name can have ‘humanistic hedonist’ in the title.  Or ‘hedonistic humanitarian’.  Nice.