I took a walk by myself one day, to get some exercise, see more of the neighborhood and to clear my head. Prior to embarking on this vacation, I had had virtually no time alone. I am accustomed to having time by myself, and I thrive on it.
But right before we left: we had a lot of "snow days;" David's school was closed, and this led right into his Winter Vacation...Gregg worked from home on some of those days, and missed work altogether on others...My parents needed help, so they moved in with us for a couple of days...We had a large Christmas party here, the night before we left for Kauai, and
Gregg, David and I were sharing a room on our vacation.
All of these things are fine, but they add up to: no solitude.
I didn't get very far before I realized that it is a mistake to exercise on Kauai without taking a bottle of water with you. I never take water with me when I walk (at home), and I am accustomed to going 3-6 miles...it's not very humid in Washington, and I didn't dream that humidity (moist, damp air) would make it feel hard to breathe, but it did. I knew that I was in trouble when I started to feel faint, and had to sit down on a rock wall by the side of the road.
Fortunately, three people were chatting there, and I asked them if they knew where I might find some water. One of the three people was a man on a bike, who had a dog with him. He offered to get water for me at his house, which was right next door to where I was sitting. I thanked him and trudged along in his wake. He was very kind, told me his name, and went into the (beautiful) house to get a cup of water for me. His wife also brought out a glass of fresh-squeezed juice, which she had just made. I was beyond grateful for their kindness. I felt silly, like a greenhorn, getting faint on a walk, and they were simply, quietly helpful. The tenderness of being helped by strangers in a gorgeous, unfamiliar place was powerful. (I went back the next day to take a "thank you" note to them.)
As I walked back toward the hotel with my cup of water, I took a path over some small cliffs. I sat down to listen to the waves pound against the lava rocks below me. Then the tears came, harsh sobs of fatigue, vulnerability, and brokenness. Again, I felt lost about what I am to do NOW with my life. The tears emptied me of all that was pent up inside, and I was able to listen. The breeze and the sound of the waves provided comfort, as they always do. It was so good to be right there in the peace and solitude, and to listen to the rhythm of nature. I asked God, What am I supposed to do? And the answer I heard was, "Do what you are doing; use what I have given you...write." So I am doing my best to obey that word.
The other thing that was deeply touching was listening to Hawaiian music on New Year's Eve, on one of the open-air terraces at the hotel. It wasn't just the music, the date, or the setting...it was also the presence of the singer, whose gentleness and deep joy were shining through her voice. It was hearing her introduce her husband, her daughter, son-in-law and baby grandson, who were also listening, as part of the audience. It was watching that baby, as he was held by his grandfather, and seeing him smile right into my eyes. And most of all, it was being present as the singer asked her daughter to come up, onto the stage, and dance to the music. I have never seen such a dance in my life.
This dancer was probably in her early twenties, and had recently given birth to a baby. She had a large, voluptuous figure, enormous breasts, beautiful, long, dark hair and a gorgeous air of confidence that was riveting. But the most engaging thing was the way she danced, and told a story with her arms, hands, hips, eyes and smile...This young woman knew who she was. She was in touch with her culture and her history. She knew exactly what she was meant to do, and it was beautiful to see her sharing the art of her dance, undoubtedly passed down through many generations, as her mother was performing her art of singing.
I knew, as I watched and listened, that these people were connected to the earth, to each other, to their ancestors and to the energy of life itself. I felt the affluence of their culture, and I felt as if I had come home to myself, in a new way. When the song and dance were finished, the daughter took her seat. Her mother continued singing and playing guitar, and she performed two songs that wove deeply into me: "My Heart Will Go On" and "Over the Rainbow." These spoke to me of Katie's journey and her presence, and the second song made me cry. The beauty and joy, the longing and loss are all part of human life.