Our recent trip to Hawaii brought many back many memories – some good, some not-so-good – but the trip was wonderful. In the return to “real life” I find myself missing many of the simple pleasures that I took for granted so many years ago and realizing that I need to somehow find that bliss and meet those needs in the world around me now. One of those delights of the past came from a deep need to keep myself together as the life I had known was crumbling around me, it became a lifeline that I held tightly to.
When we lived in Hawaii, many moons ago, I worked in at a transitional housing facility in Kawaihae about an hour’s drive from my home up the mountain in Kealekekua. The facility was built on a spot of barren, wind-blown, lava strewn land – actually the land was still lava – infertile, desolate and inhospitable. The State’s decision to place the shelter there was based upon the monetary potential that location had which was basically $0. So we built a 21 unit transitional housing facility for homeless families on a patch of lava in one of the windiest, most uncomfortable locations on the island. The project thrived in spite of the conditions and continues to this day as a very successful program for many of Hawaii’s homeless families.
My drive to and from work took about an hour each way and ran along the Queen Kaahumanu Highway through miles and miles of lava fields. If you’ve ever watched the original Ironman Triathlon on TV, the highway upon which the bike and run portions of the race follow is the Queen K Highway. It’s not a particularly pleasant stretch of the island, interesting and beautiful in its own way but almost always hot, windy and sun scorched. My drive to and from work covered this tract of island.
Day after day, with the weight of the world on my shoulders and despair heavy in my heart, I would drive this road home in the extreme heat, being buffeted by the constant wind (which as stated in a previous post, I hate) contemplating the consequences of driving into one of the large outcrops of lava on the side of the road and ending the lifetime I was currently living. The battle was intense and the searing pain seemingly more than I could bear and one day when control over my emotions was all but lost, I turned off the road and found my way towards the blue of the ocean.
Several miles from the shelter towards Kona and home, sits one of the islands most beautiful white sand beaches, Hapuna. It is the only easily accessed natural white sand beach along the Kohala Coast, there are many man-made beaches created for the resorts that line the barren stretch of island but Hapuna is a natural beauty. On that day I chose to stop at Hapuna and it became a lifeline, and from that day forward I made it a priority to stop as often as I could manage. That beautiful beach became my respite, my place of peace. It was my refuge and the place where the burdens that were becoming far too heavy to bear were temporarily lifted and washed away with the surf, where my skin was kissed by the spray of the sea and my hair caressed by the gentle ocean breeze. Hapuna wrapped me in her arms and held me close, sharing her strength and keeping me alive.
My eyes were opened this past May when we visited Hapuna and the realization of the life that had passed since my darkest days became clear. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and love for the beach that had given me her strength and had held my lifeline so firmly in her beauty. Hapuna had blown hope into my heart without me even knowing it and had gifted me with a subconscious belief that I was not alone but being held closely in a natures embrace.
I miss “my” ocean and Hapuna quite often but especially in the heat of a Colorado summer. My body yearns to sit on the shore with my feet dug into the sand, far enough down to feel the cold and wet that the tides have previously left behind. I long to feel the spray from the waves as they crash onto the shore and hear them roar again and again. I miss being consumed by the world around me and my heart infused with the power and majesty of the beauty and nature that I in turn become part of.
Unfortunately in spite of growing up in Colorado, I was never encouraged to get outside and connect with the beautiful world around me that included the magnificent Rocky Mountains. In Hawaii, it was the natural choice and my needs at the time required a connection with something beyond myself – the ocean and Hapuna met that need. I love Colorado and the mountains are so majestic and powerful and once again I’m feeling the need to connect with the world around me but for different less painful reasons. I know that someday I will feel that connection with the nature that currently encircles me, but today, I long for the ocean and Hapuna and wish that it wasn’t so far away and that I could just stop by for a brief time on my way home, especially on those more difficult of days.