Impression Session — Kauai

by aaron on August 15, 2010

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.  Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land.  There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” -Henry David Thoreau

Welcome to Kauai- the Garden Isle.  Jewel in the tropical crown of the Hawaiian Island chain.  A land of unbelievable beauty, where I have the unique fortune of spending the next few weeks.  What follows is my impressions from the field:

(Jordan and Rebecca… and their dolphin friends)

It’s Wednesday, 11 pm, and I am lying naked in the middle of an orange grove, busting clouds.  It’s a silly game, you lie on your back and stare at a passing cloud until it breaks apart.  In my case, I’ve been lying here a good 20 minutes and not a single cloud busted.

I couldn’t care less.

The grass is wet and clings to me.  I reach up and pluck a pregnant orange from a low hanging branch.  Tear apart its forgiving skin and plunge my teeth into its juicy heart.

In this moment, under the soft tapestry of rain and electric hum of crickets, as the half moon widens it Chesire grin and the sticky juice of this half-devoured orange slides down my mud-streaked skin… I feel myself whole again.  My slender pulse plugged into the great heartbeat of the world.

Here is happiness.

Sitting at the airport 2 days ago waiting to board, my mind flooded with impending deadlines.  Failed romances.  The slow steady rumble of walls closing in.  I studied the other passengers — barking at their untethered children.  Muttering under their breath as they read the morning news.  Applying sunscreen two hours too early.  Strange creatures all.  All of us trapped inside the constructed prism of our brains.

30 minutes later, I’m staring out the window at the remote coves of Kipu Kai, watching the ocean curl full-length into the powerful arms of the mountains.  Liana, the pretty local girl sitting next to me (who just happens to be close friends with one of my best friends, Jamie – small world, smaller island), turns to her beautiful one year old daughter – Liliana, and says, “look, we’re home.”  I can’t help but smile… she might as well be talking to me.

Kauai has a restorative effect.  Something in the fragrant air, the deepened shades of green, the salt-water mists rising, steaming, off the suicide cliffs.  Everything here vibrates to some primal current, a melodic harmony that ripples through the body, that opens up the pores and widens the eye and outright demands your attention.  Thought dissipates.  Worry ceases its pathetic little existence.  Stress curls into a compact ball and simply evaporates into the wind.

Hot tub relax machine: (Jordan, Jackson and Rebecca)

There is magic in these islands.  Soothe and salve in the siren embrace of these temperate waters.  Nature here will seduce you, fold you in the steady caress of rain and rainbow and rock you into an infant slumber.  You can’t escape it, it would be foolish to resist.  Even one day here is a full return to the essence of simplicity, a state of womb-like bliss.

I spend most my days in front of my little computer, this electric window with panorama views of worlds and characters that don’t exist except in my mind.  There is little difference in daily routine: I wake slow and rise in gradual measures.  I salute the sun.  I eat breakfast and I write.  At night I read or watch a movie.  I make dinner.  I run.  And the thing is I could be anywhere.  But then I lift my gaze for a moment from the letterbox of my computer, and the ocean unravels before me in long sunkissed beaches.  And the pressure grind of work is instantly reduced in perspective to the backdrop of mountains and sky.  I know at any moment I can put it all aside, take a plunge or a surf, and that easily my spirit will completely recharge.

What a blessed life I lead.

I spent the weekend in the company of old friends and random acquaintances.  Diving off the pier in Hanalei.  Eating ice cream.  Picking up hitch hikers and learning the life-changing powers of kung-fu and beat-boxing, while munching fresh cut sugar cane and singing the blues.  Drinking fresh mint ginger tea with permaculture hippies and discussing the meditative effects of mushrooms… and composting.  Meeting two musician brothers with last name MakePeace (their parents legally changed the name on their marriage certificate, so yes it is official), and listening to them serenade the sunset.  Driving around with my good friend Jackson.  Listening a lot.  Laughing more.

(Surf for World Peace: Jackson)

Yesterday I snorkled at Tunnels beach.  Diving deep.  At one point, dropping beneath the jutting lip of a massive coral ledge and finding myself swimming through the cathedral archway of an underwater cave, schools of iridescent fish darting past.  Lungs burning.  The sunlight streaming through lava rock cracks overhead.  And everywhere the serene beauty of worlds untouched and unseen.

I wish I could share this with everyone.

Today I sit at the bowl of Hanalei bay, waiting for the swells to roll in — as behind me the sun presses its golden lips to the horizon.  And before me the grand sweep of Mt. Ka’ala, shimmers like an oil painting –its crown of clouds and 1000 foot waterfalls seemingly frozen, backlit and surreal in their majestic beauty.  A place to rival Eden.

And everywhere the rain descends in soft curtains.  And a perfect wave rises up.  And a pod of twenty spinner dolphins leap and spin 100 yards off.  And as I race to the nose of this borrowed old longboard and throw my hands overhead, everything I know of myself slips away into blue.  I hear someone shouting with unadulterated excitement – a laughing, exultant cry.  It takes me a long moment to recognize that laughter as my own.

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