Return to the Garden Isle
After nearly a year of living out of a suitcase, I am finally home on Kaua’i to breathe in the moist island air…to write, read, climb Nounou once more, and, dare I risk it…take a dip in the ocean? Many assume that I swim, living as I do on a small island in the middle of the horizonless Pacific, but alas, I have always been much more comfortable on a mountain’s edge than immersed in the depths of a vast ocean. Having dislocated my left arm at Shipwreck Beach in Poipu several years ago (I knew intimately then why they called it “shipwreck”), I naturally have a healthy respect for the sea, but being an Aries with fire in my veins, I am always a little wary that the flame of my life may be prematurely and permanently doused in this immense vastness.
Today is a day for courage though. At the invitation of my dolphin-like friend, Naoka, I reluctantly drag myself to Kealia Beach, with boogie board in hand and not a little trepidation in my heart. The last time I’d braved the ocean was over a year ago, and I was tumbled like dirty laundry in the fast-spin cycle, caught as I was in a riptide. It was my Qigong training that saved me as I reminded myself to relax and become one with the water…not the “breathe deeply” part, mind you – just become soft enough and move with the water rather than fighting against it. By the time I was unceremoniously spit out of the ocean and onto the shore, I must have frightened more than a few pale visitors, covered as I was from head to toe in sand and seaweed…but I was alive! Alive!
And here I am again, this time braving the waves with renewed commitment and focused intention: not to conquer, for who can conquer the ocean, but to meet my admitted fear with some level of equanimity, if not friendliness. I withheld the other feeling in the pit of my gut – that feeling a pilot must get when his engine unexpectedly fails and his plane plummets over the watery earth to meet his impending…well…all righty then…let’s rethink the friendliness part.
…And so it was on this day, November 16, 2011, that I remitted some small portion of my fear of the ocean in the span of 2 breathless hours. Not only did I survive today’s venture rather swimmingly, but I entered Kealia again and again, each time with more trust and joy. It is, perhaps, like making love with your beloved…giving yourself up to the enormity of the energetic connection between you, not in helpless surrender, but in deep honor of the vulnerability, mystery and intrinsic beauty of the other as you unite…
This was my Qigong practice today. Tomorrow, I will learn to dance Hula for the first time. Though it is almost the end of the year, I give thanks for new beginnings and the uncompromising will of Grandmother Kaua’i who ensures I return regularly to her shores for a visit. As my kumu quoted from the Hawai’ian proverb, Olelo No’eau – “A’a ka Hula waiho ka hilahila i ka hale” – When one wants to dance the Hula, bashfulness must be left at home.” Let me throw caution to the wind then, and dance in your waves, O Kaua’i!