6 lessons I learned from a week spent in Maui.
Maui, Hawaii – right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and not just an island paradise that is very pleasing to the eye, but to all senses including the heart and soul. It’s no wonder why couples come here to get married or spend their honeymoon.
Maui. We talked about coming here to be married one day.
No, she never actually proposed. It’s not that we had booked the venue, spent gobs of money or said “yes to the dress” so there will be no big “GoFundMe” or “pity-me-now-pay-me” campaign over this.
We talked about it and I believed it would happen one day. Now I know, it was just a fantasy.
Our “relationship” ended just a week before our big Christmas Las Vegas trip.
The day she came and took her belongings from our shared, downtown apartment, I booked the extra flights to carry my broken hearted body from Las Vegas onto Maui. The place where I pictured myself walking towards my dream partner to give her the promise of the rest of my life.
I was not going to Maui to solidify a commitment to someone else.
Instead, I was going to make a commitment to myself.
The mission was to find solitude and to regain empowerment. This sounded poetic when in reality I was just angry. I wanted this to be my big “f*&@ you” to her. It wasn’t my “Eat, Pray, Love” trip or “Wild” walk on the trail, it was just my way of claiming my heart back from her greedy, selfish talons.
Airport bound, I posted my cryptic Facebook posts so I could get some virtual “you go girl” power from my friends and family and embarked on my thing.
This was my first solo trip ever although I had Andrea and Darren as close neighbors. I knew that for whatever reason, I needed to be in Maui even though it meant some time away from family over the holidays. I was going no matter what.
Maui definitely has an attractiveness about it beyond aesthetics. Perhaps magical? I can’t deny whatever it is and it’s very hard to articulate. It could have been my state of mind while I was there or just perhaps a greater power guiding me to simply listen. I don’t know.
But I do no know, it’s not easy to listen when you are hurt and angry.
It really felt like a sharp, unseen finger (or maybe one of her greedy, selfish talons) had reached up through my stomach, plucked my ribs and made a ukulele out of them and they were strummed all the way to Maui. Painful.
A million times I just wanted to take the next flight back home and see if she and I could work things out. Having these thoughts, I knew I had really lost my mind and worst…my self-esteem. I arrived with nothing in my heart. Nothing, but an emptiness.
Here I am, Maui, without love, now please work your magic?
I listened with open (empty) heart. I learned many, many things, but here are the top lessons I wanted to share.
Lesson # 1: Never let anyone make you believe that you are “too sensitive”.
I had arrived late at night to the place where I was staying and immediately darted straight for the sliding glass doors to check out the view that I didn’t or did have.
Walking out, I couldn’t see anything and at first I couldn’t tell if it was a parking lot displayed before me or something else.
Then I cried. A lot. That unforeseen force was plucking my ribs again like a ukulele only this time, the instrument was larger and bellowed like a cello.
The wind from the Pacific Ocean curled from the bottom of the shore and over the beach and grass and into my living room. It felt like a warm blanket in the “overly air-conditioned” room.
The bending and rattling of the skinny palm trees (and my ridiculous crying) made me laugh. The darkness caused a little fear, but the whole scene made me feel humble. And it was OK to feel all these emotions. I was looking at the vastness of green between me and the Pacific and it was lit by a single flicker of the moon. Serenity. Dark, but the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, besides seeing my daughter’s eyes for the first time. Truth.
I felt everything and I reacted dramatically, which is often the case when I feel.
I have often been accused of being “too” emotional, needy, crazy or too sensitive. OK. I am. And your point is or was?
“Emoting” may be a minor inconvenience to some, but to deny my highly sensitive nature is like slapping a gift out of God’s hands when He tries to hand it to you.
Highly sensitive people are NOT like many others who can only carry on through life half experiencing what highly sensitive people experience a hundred-fold.
And this is OK. One should not go through life suppressing themselves for someone else’s comfort and no one should ridicule or insult you for your highly sensitive nature.
Lesson # 2: Show gratitude for everything you have been given.
Breakfast time arrived and I would be having my first Maui meal with Andrea, my former aerial silks and trapeze teacher and friend from Atlanta. Now she’s a Maui resident, yoga instructor and Goddess in training. By her side would be her willowy, spirited bundle of a boyfriend, Darren.
After the quick hugs, tour of my craigslist’s condo that Andrea found for me at moment’s notice and after exchanging introductions, we head out the front door into that warm, amber glow of the island sun and down the steps to the car.
Darren picked up a little, white flower that had flown to the ground and handed it to Andrea. A breeze interrupted our path and up-brushed her blonde hair away from her face while she raised this simple, white flower to her nose. She stopped speaking in her mid-sentence soft whisper and took that gentle second to appreciate this little treasure.
Gratitude. I wonder if Darren noticed. I think he did.
And of course, in my mind I hear the words of Alice Walker, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” People will hand you little treasures along your path. Take notice and don’t just show it, experience it.
And when you think you have nothing or no one, look around. Someone out there has less and wishes for an ounce of what you have. Gratitude. It’s a powerful thing.
Lesson # 3: If the journey hurts, then find a different path.
Flip flops on for my walk to the ocean. I Walk.
Flip flops off. I Stop.
Feet slowly stepping into the water across rocks wanting to be baptized by the ocean any minute now.
Rocks that are like mosh-pit participators carrying me across the ocean floor are enhancing my experience by giving me tiny paper-cut slices into the delicate bottom flesh of my newly pedicured, no-callous (only for two dollar more) feet.
Fine. Because anything worth having or enjoying is worth the pain, right?
No. Damn. NO. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Well, maybe childbirth is the exception, but why do we believe that pain is a sacrifice for something greater?
If the journey is painful, then stop and find a different path or maybe just re-adjust your approach.
Maybe just plunge into the water instead of treading slowly. Maybe put on some shoes. Take a boat.
A journey may be long, challenging and tiresome, but I don’t believe the intent was for anything in this life to be painful.
Pain introduces itself and is there to redirect you so in a sense, it teaches you, but if you keep doing the same painful thing over and over, recalculate your journey.
Your feet (and other soul) will thank you for it.
Lesson # 4: Don’t let anger be the anchor that keeps your ship from sailing.
Lying face down on the beach and crying into the sand was a relief. I was so damn mad that I just wanted to be pitiful all day and just cry and cry out of pure, toxic, anger. Half my mornings were spent like this. In fact, I still struggle with this lesson.
But with a big gulp of “f*&# this”, I got up. Charged into the water that stole my breath for a second and plunged in (I had learned the aforementioned lesson by now).
Immersed, the waves rocked me and grabbed my shoulders. A gentle rock became a stern shake, like a mother who was grabbing her little three year old that had just had a temper tantrum in the candy aisle.
Enough was and is enough. Do not let anger be the anchor that keeps your ship from sailing.
Or flying. With no ships insight, I got out of the water and made a reservation to fly in a helicopter. It was my first time.
And that’s all I can really say about that. I think those words can speak volumes.
Lesson # 5: Don’t let bitterness of the old keep you from trying the new.
In other words, fresh coconut water from Maui is delicious.
I almost didn’t try it. I had fresh coconut water once somewhere in the Caribbean and I didn’t like it. It was bad. Bitter. Gross.
At some point, between walking back to my parking spot and sitting in my car, my friend Michelle had sent a text asking, “Did you drink coconut water yet?”
No, I hadn’t. I rolled my eyes because I knew that I had to at least try it. And besides, a rule of travel is that you try everything!
Just across the street, there was an old, vintage – looking store that advertised fresh coconut water for sale.
I told myself to just walk over and get this over with. Nasty coconut water. Then, I can cross it off my list and I can honestly respond back to Michelle and say “yes”.
It was amazing. I can’t believe I almost denied myself because the last juice I had tried was bad.
But just because one is bad, doesn’t mean you don’t try again. It could be that the last coconut was picked from the wrong coconut tree.
Maybe it was just grown in the wrong climate or wasn’t ripe enough or just spoiled or not really a coconut at all, but this time, it was perfect and very much what I needed for the ride back from Lahaina to Kihei.
Lesson # 6: One day, you will be the beautiful sun that sets over the ocean of your life.
Face it. We die. One day, it will end and this lifetime will be over.
All those that love you and are left will gather around you while your light begins to dim. When the time is right, they will walk to the shore to watch the curtain of the earth close on your final act. Your soul may even hear the wail of a cry that resembles the sound of a conch shell trumpet. We are just here for a fleck of time, so why do we spend too much time worrying or being angry?
In the grand scheme of things, we will all experience pain or hurt for many reasons, but get up and brush the sand off your body, let the salt water from the plunge in the ocean replace the salt that is crusted on your tear stained face, self-forgive, forgive others when you can, if not – ask God to, empower yourself and enjoy what precious time you have left.
One day, you will be beautiful sun that sets over the ocean of your life. Refuse to let anything or anyone dull your journey across the sky.
When I left Maui a week after I arrived, I still had a small carry-on bag full of sadness, but a suitcase full of lessons and peeking clarity. Some lessons take more practice than others, but eventually I will master all of them.
I suppose if I need a refresher…I could just return to Maui.
Until then Maui, mahalo and with love, always.