THE DRIFTER CHRONICLES

City Girl Gone Wandering

Finding Serenity at Peleaku Peace Garden

Last week, as the tides of change prepared to roll through the Rainbow Plantation, my friend (and, at the time, coworker) Hannah and I decided to journey to a botanical garden on our side of the island. We didn’t know what to expect, but we both geek out over nature and beautiful views so it seemed likely that the day would turn out brilliantly. In fact, it turned out beyond brilliantly.

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The space in which we found ourselves was the Peleaku Peace Garden.  We walked in and were given a speech about the sacredness of the land before being invited to sample local macadamia-nut-flavored coffee brewed at the farm up the road. It tasted like a warm macadamia nut melting in your mouth. We were then handed a map of the self-guided walking tour as we wandered off into the wild green yonder.

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And green it was. So green, in fact, that I had forgotten that the world could look like that. It also happened to be home of the world’s only landscaping project designed in the shape of the Milky Way Galaxy. Because, why not?

The nature was beautiful, and the view of the bay didn’t hurt either. The horticulture here blows my mind on a regular basis. So many diverse species of plants and wildlife floating on a pile of rock in the middle of the ocean. Crazy, right?

It turned out that the botanical garden was also an omage to peace and unity amongst spiritual and religious realms. Thus, the property was laden with statues dedicated to the major world religions, as well as to various non-traditional beliefs.

Hannah and I had split off to wander about in search of our own serenity, but we reunited in a white room dedicated toward reading and silent meditation. There, we sat–together, but separate–enjoying the space in solitary unity. I browsed through a book about Hawaiian botany and the detriment of invasive plant species. The sight of the photographs and words blurred against the sight from behind the window–rolling green hills, orange and red plants, and a crystal blue glaze of ocean glistening in the distance.

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I moved from the couch to the floor and settled in to close my eyes and check-in with myself. My lips curled into a smile.

This is why I came here; this is what my Hawaii is—meditations on life, nature, and shared stillness on the floor of a white room in a Botanical Garden with a new friend. Nothing can beat the feeling of contemplation and quiet togetherness.

Except for the labyrinth.

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If you are one of the people reading this that actually knows me, then you probably know how I feel about labyrinths, and so you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I freaked out when I found out that I could walk through one with a view of the ocean behind me. Freaked out may be an understatement. Let’s just say that there was a lot of jumping and giddiness.

Why do I love labyrinths so much? Well, first of all, they’re beautiful.

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Secondly, they’re magical. A walk through a labyrinth somehow transitions me from an on-the-go-mover to an in-the-now-doer. Labyrinths slow me down. When I took my first steps down the winding trail of dirt and rock, my body struggled against the slow pace at which I was purposefully moving. But labyrinths are designed to instill a focus on contemplation by forcing people to slowly put one foot in front of the other. So, recognizing this (and minding the sign that told me as much) I stopped with my great rush toward the destination and let myself ease through the walk. After all, it’s not where you’re going, it’s how you get there. It wasn’t easy, but I slowed myself down and worked my way toward the middle of the labyrinth at a pace that even a snail would have laughed at.

And you know what happens when you take the time to do that? Your entire system slows down.

On my way out, the pace was natural rather than forced; it had become my innate way of flowing through the universe. And for the rest of the day I felt less rushed, less hectic, less moved to push my way through time. Instead, I eased peacefully through everything.

Thus, my love of labyrinths.

Since then, both of my co-wwoofers have left for other farms (one on Maui, one on Big Island). I miss them greatly, but the island seems to have taken pity on me and provided me with an abundance of new friends to try and make up for the loss. It doesn’t quite negate the absence of evenings spent laughing and talking, but it’ll do. Plus, my new coworker is a very nice guy from Chicago. He’s young (22 and just out of college) but his heart is as vast as the Pacific and I have adopted him as my little brother. We get along quite well, and I’m doing what I can to show him the ropes.

***Also, just because it has to be said, I am typing this blog post in an outdoor kitchen filled with French Oceanographers. There is so much Frenchie action happening around me that I can barely begin to handle it. It is my one month anniversary of living in Hawaii, and this is pretty much the perfect way to celebrate it. I wanted to live and work in an international space, laden with strange interesting people who I would probably not have crossed paths with otherwise. Alas, I am the wallflower at the roast of an enormous fish. I get to observe strangers as they interact in a language that I studied for six years but barely understand. This moment is beautiful. Life here is beautiful. Not without its problems, certainly, but beautiful nonetheless.

*Written on the evening of the 5th.

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