Monday, April 9, 2012

Son of a Beautiful and Violent Mother (by way of Another Ocean)

The ocean has held a special place in my heart for as long as I can remember. Some of my most dearly held memories of childhood can be found at the Jersey shore, frolicking in waves and accumulating copious quantities of sand in my shorts. In adolescence, full days would be spent in sun, sand and surf, shredding my salty lips with frozen treats purchased from a vendor pacing the packed beach. Preferably, I'd find big waves to body surf back into shore. (Here was where I almost left the planet, held under by a particularly violent crest for much too long.)

So why was it that I never wanted to visit Hawai'i? Was it the fact that the flight was so long (more than 12 hours)? Was it that Oahu received more visitors in one week than Tahiti would receive in a full year? There was really no one good answer. But a visit from an indefinable "something" changed all of that back in the year 2000.

There are times in life when one enters a realm of spirit and mystery, a place where one must choose to travel by way of faith as no maps exist. I had met a woman after the turn of the millennium, an unexpected soul who gave me pause to see things differently. Within three months, a secret door in my subconscious slid open and a compelling idea took hold; you both must go to Maui.

The fact that I was in the final process of becoming divorced and had barely the means to live meant nothing; the thought consumed me. I obtained travel brochures, videos, information in the most traditional way (the internet being a strange and unkind beast to me at that time.)

That was March. By November, we were there.

It was definitely not easy. At times it became ridiculously dramatic even to the point where it seemed like we would break up and cancel everything at the last minute. It soon became obvious that despite all protest to the contrary, this journey WAS going to happen.

Once I arrived, I knew why.

Have you ever ventured into someplace new and exotic and felt more at home than you did in your own skin? Waded into a rainbow painted ocean and known peace like never before? Driven around an island so thrilling and exalting that it was like being fully alive for the first time?

This only begins to scratch the surface of what I experienced the first time in Maui.

We went back three times in four years (and even threw in one additional trip to Oahu for a special person.) While sitting in this volcanic arena of beauty and wonder, I penned the words, "My heart lives here always." Towards the end of this April, I reclaim that piece of my heart by crossing my other ocean, appreciating it all more than ever.

While savoring the upcoming journey, I fill my days in the car while listening to favorite Hawaiian language musicians (such as Keali'i Reichel.) How can a language that has but 13 letters (5 vowels and 8 consonants) move my spirit so? I understand not a word yet the power and beauty evoked having me driving those same roads 6,000 miles away even as I traverse the canyons and perils of New York City in my car. It speaks such power, grace and beauty despite the foreign form.

It is in moments such as these that I gain a better idea, a more complete feeling that time and place are magnificent illusions that we invoke and experience. John Lennon said "Reality leaves a lot to the imagination." I find this to be more true than not. Yet these complex feelings that Maui evokes from me are best summed up by T.S. Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.


  1. There is something special about islands. They can be beautiful or ruined, enchanting or mean-spirited, mind expanding or stultifying. It is more than being surrounded by ocean, more like being of the ocean while different to it. I'm so glad you have visited the Pacific, come a little further and visit us in NZ.
    By the way, I was born and lived most of my life on Jersey, CI. Jersey shore means something rather different to me!
    Thanks for contributing to >Language>Place

    1. So glad to hear from a fellow "Jersian" with a love of the water that surrounds and embraces us all. Love your take on the island. I also feel that the atmosphere might be somewhat a reflection of what we carry onto the land... at least that's what I found! Thanks for the comment.