Sunday, May 20, 2012

Grape #13: Pilgrimage to Maui: Part 3

Saturday, May 19, 2012
12:23 PM Hawaii time, 6:23 PM New York time

Aloha!  There are some places on this planet that are simply the closest thing to paradise as we can imagine.  Maui here in the Hawaiian Islands is one of those places.  I’m quickly realizing what differentiates a real paradise from just a fancy resort-like artificiality.  Yes, there are resorts here, but Hawaii’s incredible landscape, flora and fauna differentiate themselves, pop out at you like a 3D version of reality, surprise you and overwhelm you at every turn.  In short, you are in sensory overload.  I’d referenced before that there are just so many photo opportunities, but what this means is that there are so many awesome things, creatures, plants, people to look at.  And this is why you quickly discover that a slowdown is not only necessary, but uncontrollable too.  It just happens, like needing to shield your eyes from the sun’s bright light, or wearing headphones to block out an extra loud noise.

So what is the solution you come upon when faced with this best of problems, this challenge of sensory overload all around you?  You learn to slow down.  You walk more slowly, you look in a single direction more carefully and with greater appreciation, you just make each moment last longer, each minute stretch out.  Life here requires a slower pace, and my stupid crazy New Yorker gait becomes a crawl in comparison to what I’m used to back home.  I’ll sometimes keep moving quickly when I’m out in the sun to avoid getting burned, but most of the time now I feel myself just at one with nature and this beautiful planet. 

I’ve always been one to respect Mother Earth by not littering, often picking up garbage that careless others leave behind, but here if you see a piece of garbage or debris laying around, you feel you must retrieve it and clean it up.  In the supermarkets, you either bring a canvas bag or receive your groceries in paper bags.  Plastic bags are as forbidden as a priest in a mini skirt.  This is paradise, and it’s so close to perfection that you want to keep it that way.  Respect for nature is almost universally agreed upon here, as if it wasn’t, I’d be seeing a lot more garbage around.  Leaving an area cleaner than you found it is a life principle on this island, and one I appreciate so much more already. 

Appreciation for each little sight, the need and desire to slow down, and respect for preserving nature’s beauty: On Maui these are principles people live by and a way of living every perfect day.  But no matter what non-Eden we walk through during an average day elsewhere on the planet, these principles are no less important.  Just because a place is a dump doesn’t mean it can’t be cleaned up and made more beautiful.  Just because things rush by at a hectic pace doesn’t mean we cannot help them slow down, and just because we don’t usually stop to appreciate that hedge, that dandelion, that rock, doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of being appreciated.  Maui is a paradise I’m so blessed to be living in for two weeks, but it’s a reminder that beauty and nature, appreciation and respect can be found or established anywhere at all.

8:03 PM Maui time, 2:03 AM New York time
A school of fish, a rainbow, some visits from the birds of Maui, and another day in paradise.  Today was just one of those beautiful days you are blessed with throughout your life, filled with opportunity after opportunity to experience God’s beauty all around you.  Andy and I did a lot of walking and exploring today, both above and below water.  Above water we walked most of the entire Ka’anapali Beach area on both sides of Black Rock, the resort area on Maui’s western shores.  And below water, I donned mask, snorkel, and courage, and went under water to see what I could see.  Unbelievable!  The water is so clear, you can see your feet in the sand with crystal clear clarity below you.  And as I looked into deeper waters, I saw a few lone fish swimming among the coral and then a whole school of fish a few feet beyond them.  Amazing! 

After a dip in the pool and even Jacuzzi afterward, we retired back to the condo where I did some reading out on the lanai with a cocktail by my side.  Also by my side were two different unexpected visitors.  First a beautiful red and white bird the name of which I don’t know (yet), and another small bird which followed soon after.  Each spent some time with me on the lanai, the first looking at me curiously from just 2 feet away, the second more of the same as I serenaded it with various whistled tunes for its enjoyment. 

Next stop was the free trolley to Whaler’s Village where we window shopped and people watched, then walked back to our resort along the beach walk that connects all of the Ka’anapali Beach resorts.  With the ocean on our left, a golf course on our right, we looked up past the golf course at one of Maui’s two volcanic peaks where a rainbow pushed itself through the clouds flanking the cliffs.  Our first Maui rainbow! 

Back to the condo after that, where I mixed myself a yummy cocktail mix of Bacardi rum, passion, orange, and guava juice (POG juice) which I took with me down to the beach to watch the sun set.  As the sun sank slowly, slowly, slowwwwwwwly, I was reminded what I wrote earlier today, how nature itself and the beauty all around us forces us to slow down and enjoy every moment.

And now, with darkness covering the area and only the soft glow of resort lights and tiki torches lighting up the grounds, Andy and I are off to star gaze.  Mahalo again, God!  This one was surely one of your best, and I’m very, very grateful to have been a part of it!

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