I always feel pleasantly alive when my wife and I visit our favorite Maui beach, Napili. There's just something about a tropical beach that screams (or rather, murmurs) this is what life is all about.
It isn't just the warm air and water speaking. There's also something else. Elemental. Honest. Real. No need to try to name it. But I enjoy trying to talk about it.
Last year I blogged about some life lessons I've learned boogie boarding.
-- You can't control the big things.
-- You can control how you relate to big things.
-- Change is the only constant.
-- Don't be afraid of being the only one.
-- Rushing isn't necessary.
-- Missing an opportunity is no big deal.
-- Patience. Acceptance. Mindfulness.
-- Not knowing what you're doing is really doing it.
-- Get out of your mind! Go a little (or a lot) crazy!
During this year's Maui vacation I re-experienced these same life lessons. Heraclitus was right, though. Can't swim in the same ocean twice. So I'll share some 2012 Napili photos with fresh what life is all about observations.
Lots of footsteps on a now-empty beach. Can't tell which came from a rich person, or a poor one; from a black person, or a white one; from a sad person, or a happy one. Big waves will wash them away today, or tomorrow, or for sure, someday. We're all footsteps on a beach.
Islands on the horizon are real. So is the empty ocean. But there's a difference between them. Seeing a distant shore that doesn't exist... mirage! Such is the supernatural, religiosity, mysticism, spirituality -- when these aren't grounded.
Make room for two. Or three. Or however many people there are to like, love, and lust for in your life.
Looking up... a different perspective. There's always so much more... skyward. Condos, people, sidewalks... yes. Also say yes to blue sky, passing clouds, palm fronds waving in the breeze.
Keeping our balance, the best we can, as the waves of life pass by. But falling down, splash, into the water, that's enjoyable also. No standing without falling. No such thing as the perfect surfer. Everyone falls. (Yes, it's possible to surf waves on stand-up paddle boards).
Being part of the wave... that's the key to riding a wave. Too early or too late; too left or too right. Not quite. There's a sweet spot which can be felt, yet not described. You know it when you're in it. Thinking not required.
Beaches erase inhibitions. Adults act like kids. Why can't we do this all of the time? Or at least, all the times the boss isn't watching. More silly, more crazy, more no reason not to. That's a great gift of beaches.
It's really easy to do nothing. Especially on a beach. Every life needs a beach, where nothing is the job to be done. I've learned more from nothing than from something. Got to keep up my learning, though. Always more to learn.
I can't make large waves come. Believe me, I've tried. Really tried. Doesn't work. No boogie-boardable waves, I sit on the beach. When there's big enough waves, I go in the water. Simple. Just flow with what is really happening, not with what I want to have happen.
There's a sunset at the end of every day. Always beautiful, even when we can't appreciate the loveliness. No sunset, no sunrise. Perpetual dark or light... not the way the Earth turns. Or life lives and dies.
What I learned is to go to Hawaii in January.
Posted by: Randy | May 17, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Looks magical! I am envious!
Posted by: David C. Lane | May 17, 2012 at 11:06 PM
yep thats a pretty good read - but is there not something to be said for dynamism, of trying hellbent to accomplish or force something, alot of the times it may not work, but the sheer effort often means you get alot closer to your goal than waiting for it to happen.
Posted by: George | May 18, 2012 at 12:05 AM
It is too bad that you have to endure the horrible hell of Hawaiian Airlines in order to grasp/feel "what life is all about."
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | May 18, 2012 at 08:07 AM
George, I do engage in some "sheer effort" while in Maui. Well, not overwhelming sheer effort, but disciplined effort at least.
Every day I swim across Napili Bay, back and forth. Meaning, two full trips across the bay. I use a championship sidestroke/modified backstroke technique, as documented in this blog post:
My basic rule, which varies only with very high waves, is to follow my swimming pattern no matter what. So if the water is choppy, or wavy, or windy, I still swim two times across the bay. It just takes me longer. And/or it is more tiring.
I enjoy doing this almost as much as I enjoy the much more free-form boogie boarding. It's the disciplined side to my more relaxed side of enjoying the warm Maui ocean.
Posted by: Brian Hines | May 18, 2012 at 08:32 AM
Robert, thanks for your sympathy. As noted on my other blog, it sucks that Hawaiian Airlines no longer has a non-stop flight between Portland and Maui. Lots of people are upset, including my wife and me.
The "aloha spirit" on Hawaiian is great. And it just seems wrong to fly Alaska Airlines to Hawaii. But almost certainly that's what we'll be doing from now on, unless Hawaiian wakes up and smells the disappearing Portland area customers.
Posted by: Brian Hines | May 18, 2012 at 08:34 AM
But the question is whether living life should necessarily be equated with waiting for shit to happen.
Shit might happen or it might not, sometimes we can do something about shit, sometimes not - but surely it is worth trying to control some of the shit, or at least avoid waiting for the shit to fall on your head wherever possible?
Posted by: George | May 18, 2012 at 10:47 AM
I've lived in Hawai'i for over fifty years and I know what rapture it is for visitors because I've visited the cold, ugly hell-holes they come from. Problem is, though, a lot of visitors relocate here and turn Hawai'i into a warm version of what they've moved away from. Laihaina, for instance, was a sleepy little plantation town before the visitor industry turned it into a place I avoid as avidly as Kailua-Kona, a place I once dearly loved.
Posted by: cc | May 18, 2012 at 10:50 AM
cc, us Oregon tourists love Lahaina. But we're not Hawaii residents, like you are. I can see how the tourist'y side of Hawaii would drive locals crazy at times.
We just like the energy, shops, restaurants, people-watching, ocean views, and such in Lahaina. It's a big reason why we keep going back to Maui.
Posted by: Brian Hines | May 18, 2012 at 10:16 PM
The last time I was on Maui was in 1981. I thought it was a zoo then (crowded, teeming with tourists, developed). There were far more surfers in the water at Honolua Bay than there were waves. However, McKenna (sp.?) beach was beautiful despite the thorn bushes planted by missionaries to discourage the natives from going barefoot..a thoroughly unholy behavior in the eyes of God, I guess. I can only imagine what it is like on Maui 30 years later. Still, the water is warm and blue and the vistas of neighboring islands remain.
Posted by: tucson | May 19, 2012 at 10:22 AM