Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grape #18: Pilgrimage to Maui: Part 8

Tuesday, May 29, 2012. 10:55 AM Maui, 4:55 PM New York.
Paradise—lost!  We’re sitting here at our gate in the airport in Maui with our vacation now behind us.  What can I say except even this good thing must end.  We’ve glimpsed paradise, gotten a sneak peak at heaven, and it was beautiful.  Some may think I’m overdoing it with the comparisons, but besides just the gorgeousness of this land, the way you feel is heavenly too.  The people, the sights, the sounds, the atmosphere all just calm you, lull you even, into a sense of complete relaxation.  You are pulled along as you walk along the beach by a power outside of yourself, a complete yearning to keep moving forward, keep absorbing and blending into the holy earth around you. 

Yet like a person surviving a near-death experience, I am yanked back to reality, repositioned on a path leading back to normalcy.  People who have near-death experiences are changed forever, and I believe a vacation to Hawaii like this one can change you too, if you allow it to.  If you get here and just keep on being miserable, annoyed at everything, bitching and complaining about this or that problem with your life here or back at home, then you are still home, not in Hawaii.  But if you transport your mind and soul along with your physical form, if you replant yourself here on the Hawaiian Islands in every way possible for a couple of weeks, you’ll see what I mean.

This vacation has ended, the journey home now begins.  But just as you can easily bring your stress with you to Hawaii, you can also bring your aloha spirit home with you.  In the same way that trouble can follow us anywhere, so too can joy, and peace, and relaxation.  It’s what your soul craves all the time, and if you want it to, your soul can be enjoying all of the peace and joy and aloha of Hawaii back home.  You just have to connect to the way you felt on vacation, in Hawaii or wherever you go for holidays away from home.  If you can do that, really do that purposefully, then paradise can never be lost, only re-found again and again all the time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012. 10:21 PM San Francisco, 1:21 AM New York.
In between flights now and back on the U.S. mainland.  As we arrived in San Francisco, the sun set behind us.  We won’t arrive in New York until the sun has risen again.  Amazing to think that as we travel east from Maui to New York, the Earth spins enough to lose sight of the sun and then regain sight of her again.  The journey we take each day of our lives is this way of course too, what we accomplish or don’t fits neatly between a sunrise and a sunset.  And each day’s journey has its rising and its setting moments.  We just have to accept this reality and go with it.

Since I won’t be sleeping on the plane (by inability, not choice), my “day” today will have lasted two sunrises and one sunset long.  When I woke today, I walked to the beach on Maui with my cup of coffee.  I watched the sun set hours later over the Pacific Ocean as I approached San Francisco.  And before going to sleep, I will watch the sun rise ahead of me as I approach the east coast of the United States.  A revolution. 

I’ll arrive in New York 6 or 7 hours from now and spend a good part of the next couple of weeks reflecting back on all of the revolutions I experienced in Hawaii the past 2 weeks.  And as my mind and the earth spin, I’ll look forward to and appreciate all of the sunrises and sunsets ahead of me on the journey of the everyday.  Mahalo, God.  You never cease to amaze me.

Wednesday, May 30th. 38,278 feet altitude, 3:13 AM NY time…somewhere over America
On our last full day in Maui yesterday, Andy and I walked up and down Ka’anapali Beach, the long multi-mile stretch of gorgeous beach our resort was on.  I had only used my amateur snorkel equipment once the whole trip, so I wanted to get back in and explore some more.  It’s incredible to notice when you look carefully, even just walking along the beach, how many tiny fish you can see back and forth in the breaking waves on shore.  I donned my mask and snorkel—left the fins on the beach after realizing they were too clunky for me in the shallow water—and went into the ocean just 4-5 feet to see what I could see.  So many gorgeous fish right there just 10-20 feet out from shore!  I knew the best fish sightings were found near what’s called Black Rock, the large divider between Ka’anapali Beach and North Ka’anapali Beach, so I explored the north side first and saw a lot of great fish.  But knowing the famous green sea turtles of Maui were often seen on the other side of Black Rock, across we went. 

My hopes weren’t high, as apparently they’re common but usually in deeper waters where I didn’t feel comfortable swimming.  I prefer to keep my feet on the ground.  But I did see a lot more cool fish, including a sand-hugging flounder that blends in so much I didn’t know it was a fish at first!  I kept watching it thinking something’s not right about that sand over there.  Then I noticed an eye as it moved a couple of inches.  Wicked cool! 

And then it happened.  On one of my trips above the surface of the waves, I heard a girl yelling, “Turtle!!!”  Suddenly, she and a bunch of other snorkelers were all heading in my direction.  Cool!!!  I might get a glimpse at one of these beauties of the ocean.  I went under and watched as they all swam near me but over to my left about 30 feet, so I followed them over.  I peered past them and started making out something—something HUGE!  It couldn’t be!  I came up for air quick then went back down for a better look.  Just 15 feet in front of me was a MAMMOTH green sea turtle as big as a human being or bigger.  I watched as long as I could as it petered around the coral in front of me, then as it swam out deeper again.  I came up for air and saw swimmers around me all with huge smiles plastered on their faces that matched mine.  I couldn’t help myself.  “HOLY SHIT!!!!!” I exclaimed to the people near me.  We all compared notes on how huge it was, how many pounds.  Our estimates were that it was at least 5 feet long as 600 pounds but I have no idea how the length/weight ratio is for turtles like that.  Either way, it was an incredible sight to see, an absolutely amazing experience to have, especially to close out my trip in Hawaii!!!

That evening, Andy and I watched the sunset and wrote our names in the sand for a picture.  Then Andy dug a small hole in the sand near the top of the beach and we dropped the flowers from our leis into the spot.  Returning them to the earth, we read, was one of the best things to do with your leis.  It was a beautiful conclusion to our trip, and just capped well the emotional and spiritual pilgrimage overall.

Wednesday, May 30th, 6:02 AM NY time.  An hour outside NYC.
The trip is just about over, so I’ll wrap this blog up now.  The Grapes On Divine blog continues, of course, but the Maui Pilgrimage blog within is now over.  For anyone wondering, I’ve written about 16 full pages of a Word document throughout this trip.  Could have been more, could have been less.  Almost 10,000 words later, I hope those of you who chose to follow along enjoyed some of what I shared in these reflections. 

As this journey comes to a close, the next one begins.  The journey from where you are now to where you will be tomorrow is as long as you make it, as enriching and fulfilling as you make it.  The workday for those who work full-time is about 8 hours long.  That’s only 1/3 of a day!  And for every 5 days you work, you get 2 off!  Most importantly, as I like to say, if you live life for the weekend, you’re only living 2/7ths of your life.  Enjoy ALL of the moments you are blessed with, make the most of ALL of your free time, find yourself anew each day, and find a piece of paradise around every corner.


  1. Sean, Through your words, I have fallen in love with Hawaii all over again...I think I have fallen in love with you and Andy too. Thank you.
    Mahalo and a good sleep to you both. ghc

    1. Many mahalos for your comment, I appreciate that!