My One Wild & Precious Life – Waikiki
It is hard to describe what it is about Hawaii that makes it so magical – at least to me. I suspect it is the energy that flows through everything. People seem more calm, happier, friendlier, more present, when they are there.
I have just returned from ten nights on Oahu and it was just the tonic my exhausted body and world-weary soul needed. I came back home … changed. Not by some epiphany or life-altering event. Rather it was a gentle letting go of all the stress, worry, sadness and poor health that has plagued me these past few years.
My heart is filled with gratitude that I washed up on Waikiki Beach.
This journey reminded me of what I want from my one wild and precious life … and that is not a life of drudgery, stress and emptiness. It is one of freedom and joy and lightness of being.
I am not someone who was meant to work long hours sitting in an office, never seeing the natural world. I belong outdoors in nature – close to the sea.
I know now I need to be able to walk on the sand, swim in the ocean, feel the wind tangling my hair and the salt spray on my skin. I need to walk and walk and walk. I need to be surrounded by beauty. I need to engage with people.
I need to help people and enrich their lives. I need to write and I need to take photographs and create art. I need to inspire and motivate. I need to spend long hours reading.
Going to Hawaii made this clear to me. It helped me to find my way back. To remember how I used to feel, what I used to believe in.
I came here to heal my soul, to find a measure of peace, a lightening of my spirit, and to reclaim who I used to be.
I found these things and so much more.
During my stay I enjoyed the beauty of an easy friendship and the sheer joy of being out in nature, virtually all day every day. I felt the breeze, the sun and the rain on my skin – the sand, crushed coral and cool water under my feet. I loved the invigorating sensation of immersing myself in saltwater – and the way it dries in your hair and coats your skin with salt crystals.
I walked on the sand for hours each day, swam when the weather was hot, looked at the shops or museums when it was cool, and ate all my meals outside.
There was so much joy for me in not being restricted to indoors. Being outdoors, surrounded by nature, nourishes my soul.
I believe life is made up of a series of moments, and my time in Hawaii was filled to the brim.
One of those moments came while eating dinner in a tropical garden lit by flaming torches. A Hawaiian string band played quietly in the corner – nice background music. The next moment they were playing a tribute to Israel “Iz” Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’Ole who gave Judy Garland’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World’ new life, and the world fell in love with him. Hearing those sounds both lifted me up and shattered my heart.
Another magic moment came one beautiful day when I swam all morning followed by a lunch of coconut shrimp with mango salsa and a mai tai by the pool. After lunch I returned to the beach and made a little nest in sand where I curled up and went to sleep until big fat drops of rain started bouncing off my skin.
It is a long time since I have fallen asleep on the sand to the boom of waves on a reef and the gentle shush as they come ashore. It is the most relaxing sound in the world. My ability to fall asleep in this way proved to me that, after five days, I was starting to let go of the extreme stress that causes my body to close up on itself and my spirit to withdraw from the world around me.
On this occasion I joined everyone else in the mad scramble for shelter, but on a different day I would sit on the sea wall in the pouring rain, letting it soak me and wash the dust from my weary soul.
There is a story that the water outside my hotel carries extraordinary healing powers. For centuries the Kahunas have brought people here to swim in order to heal their bodies and their souls. Since I came to Hawaii to be healed I knew I must do the same.
Of course there were much easier places to swim – but perhaps that’s the point. You must really want it. The water was cold, the bottom littered with rocks and coral and there were small relentless waves.
As I swam, I asked for a more joyful life, a job I loved – one that was meaningful and useful, for a heart filled with love, and a soul filled with light.
I expressed my gratitude for all the blessings in my life and asked that my body and spirit be healed. Then I dived under the water, completely immersing myself.
When I left the ocean and walked down the beach I felt so light my feet barely touched the sand. I went for a long joyful swim in the soft, calm, sandy part of the beach further down. Finally, exhausted, I laid on the sand feeling the warm sun soak into my back, drying me out, as I was lulled by the sound of the waves
One of the things I loved most about staying right on the beach was getting to see the reactions of those who were seeing the ocean for the first time. Almost without thinking they leave the footpath that runs alongside the water. As they step onto the sand, they pick up their pace, often walking right out of their shoes as they make their way down to the water – drawn by whatever it is that calls us back to the sea.
Then the look of wonder as they stare down at feet washed by frilly waves. A joyful smile breaks across their face as they look up amazed – their shining eyes meeting those of their loved ones who are sharing in the experience, or strangers who smile their encouragement.
It moves me every time and then the joy bubbles up inside me too.
Yes that is what I like best – seeing people – seeing myself – transformed by sand and sea.
I am forced to think about why I live in a world that has no beach, no waves, no sand. Why I spend each day of my existence slogging away, out of touch with nature, the seasons, and the way in which the light within each day changes.
Here, being outside day and night is a way of life, and I realize that once I leave Hawaii I need to make some changes.
It won’t be easy because there is magic here that makes all things possible. It feels different to any other place I have been – even other pacific islands. It was the right place – the perfect place to heal my soul.
This holiday has meant so much to me and I feel I have reached the place I wanted to be by the end of it.
As I prepared to come here, I held a picture in my mind of who I wanted to be after ten days of living right on iconic Waikiki Beach.
I saw myself with a strong body, a light spirit and a joyful heart. My skin was brown, my hair a mass of wild sun-bleached curls, I took up a little less space than I used to, my eyes were as bright and blue as the ocean and my wide smile came easily.
On my second to last morning as I walked in the surf from one end of Waikiki to the other, and back again, a stranger offered to take my photo. I had fallen out of bed and onto the beach. I was wearing my surf shirt, old shorts and carrying my thongs. Later, when I look at it, I realise THIS is who I am.