City Girl Gone Wandering
I am following the whales north, tracing their migration up to the frigid waters of a land I do not know.
Leaving Hawaii is an emotional feat. How does one walk away from a land filled with mountains, beautiful beaches, plunging cliff-sides, and seemingly endless lava fields? It is not easy. Leaving is never easy.
It is, however, necessary.
The time I’ve spent here–suspended on a mountain peak that rises above the ocean–has taught me vast lessons about myself and the world. Hawaii helps me to reconnect with my soul, to discover the softness that resides within.
American culture is hard and rocky, not unlike the A’a lava flows that make up much of this land. But Hawai’i is smooth and easy-going, more like the Pahoehoe flows that ease their way down the mountain. This island teaches me patience, kindness, and serenity. It teaches me to slow down and breathe in the air, to let go of the cynicism and jaggedness that the east coast has beaten into me.
Big Island is constantly evolving: Kilauea continues to produce new land, Mauna Loa looms with the promise of eruption, and even Hualalai is turning her head with anticipation of her next flow. The ocean washes away our beaches and then returns them to their grandeur. There is a persistent coming and going of life, a constant melding of creation and destruction.
Each person who spends time here comes away with their own experience of Hawaii. For some, it is a place of romance–a world in which their newly appointed marriage is solidified and sanctified. For others, it is a land of opportunity. I have known many who showed up here with a little bit of cash and a backpack, only to be taken in by the aina and bathed in her resources. For me, it has always been a place of purification–a land that cleanses me of my sins and baptizes me in salt water and papaya trees.
But one cannot exist in a state of constant cleansing. One must go out into the world and get some dirt under those finger nails, some mud on those boots. One must go and roll around and get filthy with the earth so that one can come back to the aina and once again feel pure.
Off I go, to the land of bears, moose, and glaciers. To a wilderness whose existence I cannot even begin to fathom. But I go with the pride of the land from which I come, and with the spirit of aloha resting soundly in my heart.
Aloha, Hawaii. Until we meet again. Mahalo.