The Hawaiian island of Maui is a spectacular place, as if Paradise once fell from the sky only to land amongst the cobalt waves of the South Pacific Ocean. Maui’s sun shines straight into the soul. Its balmy air reeks of hibiscus and plumeria. Its sea blazes with sapphire, turquoise, indigo and all the shades in between. The colors are so surreal not even Pablo Picasso could not have imitated them during his Blue Period. Swanky palms, peculiar plants and lush forests sway in sea-salt flavored breezes. And last but hardly least, alcoholic drinks come in hallowed out pineapples.
I just spent a week on Maui and I never shook the feeling that this island holds an important secret beyond its stunning beauty. As I write, my skin burns from a too-much-tongue kiss from the sun. The whites of my eyes still sting of salt. I am positive that one of my crevices retains at least a bit of sand.
Outside of my window I hear the noises of city traffic. Tomorrow at work, sporting the skin tone “lobster chic” and a hopefully not-still-sandy vagina, I will return to a full e-mail inbox and enough voicemails to make me wish I was an actual crustacean with a shell to hide in. Amid this harsh return to reality, my head is filled with the rhythmic roll of frothy waves.
It was there in those waves that, as willing prey to the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tide, I unraveled the great mystery held by this magical place. It was there in the waves that I let myself float in my ultimate fears—that I will never find a romantic partner, that my writing is terrible, that I am not enough, that I am not the person I am ‘supposed’ to be. It was in the waves, awash in my own anxiety, that I suspended myself in the ocean’s ebb, in the sensation of letting such things drain from the shore of my soul. It was in the waves that I sustained myself in the ocean’s flow, in the swelling of my internal energy, my passion, my connection, my consciousness. My evolution.
It was in the waves that I surrendered control. It was in the waves that I felt humbled by my own insignificance, a slight presence in an enormous and powerful universe. It was in the waves that I drowned myself in gratitude and compassion. It was there in those waves that I cleansed myself of entitlement, resentment, guilt, negativity, and comparison. It was in the waves that, after having released myself from my expectations, I spotted a handsome sea turtle and a glorious, creepy eel.
It was in the waves that I understood that we have no choice but to trust in the rhythm of this life. Life, like Maui, knows something we do not. It knows that it is hopeless to fight the ebb and resist the flow. It knows of a continuous cycle beyond our control, driven by the moon and the sun and the stars. It knows that we will weather all hardships, no matter how big or rough the waves. It knows that sometimes we will drift with no land in sight, and at other times we will sit our happy asses in the sand with an umbrella in our drink. It knows the emotions and experiences that wash to shore are fleeting, that all things are always carried back out to sea.
Life knows that we lack control over absolutely everything except for our own breath. Life also knows that it will continue to happen, sure as the sun sets and sure as the moon moves the ocean tides. Life knows we can neither chart nor change its course. And life also knows of our resilience, our capacity to be free, to feel joy and to know meaning, if only we suspend ourselves in its ebb and sustain ourselves in its flow.