There’s no such thing as overnight mail to or from the Big Island unless you want to rent a plane. And if you don’t have your package at The Pony Express by 10 am, you’ll miss the fastest possible delivery of two days. Snail mail takes a week. These are some of the downsides of conducting business from Hawai‘i. But the upside is that I don’t worry about it. The whole point of living here is to step off my treadmill. This choice is right around every corner.
Last week I had to make a Costco run to Kona. I could have done my shopping and come right back. But I decided to enjoy what the dry side of the island has to offer – the beach. I drove down to the main tourist drag in Kailua, parked, and walked the half block to the ocean. Ali‘i Drive was abuzz with tourists and residents alike, perusing the shops, cruising the strip and eating alfresco at trendy restaurants.
But I slipped away from the commotion and found myself on a nearly deserted beach at Hale Halawai, just steps away from the busy street. We’re fortunate to have many public access sites to the ocean even in town. Yet the only people on the sand and lava beach besides me were a young Japanese couple in their own little world.
This was an unusual Big Island beach. Most ocean interfaces here have the rough boulder type of a‘a‘ lava, difficult to walk on with deep crevices between the rocks. This was the smoother pahoehoe lava, and amazingly flat even for this type. Its shallow depressions created tidal pools connected to the vast ocean just feet away. I sat on a low man-made lava wall in the shade of a kiawe tree and absorbed the serenity of the moment while keeping an eye open for whales on the horizon.
But my attention came back to the shallow pools again and again. So I walked over to study them. Full of sea urchins, coral and small fish, they were an incubator for the colorful larger fish in nearby waters. I watched as rocks seemed to shift around by themselves. The movers, tiny black crabs, revealed themselves once they positioned the rocks to their satisfaction. As I surveyed the darting fish and this other world in the tidal pool, I fell under the spell of the waves crashing to shore. They blocked out the sound of everything except the tinkle of laughter from the couple behind me. I could feel my breath and heartbeat slowing, and my preoccupations and worries slipping away.
When I finally roused myself from this peaceful respite, I stepped back onto the sidewalk to find people sweltering from the sun above and the heat rising off the roadway, irritated at the slowness of the traffic, talking anxiously into their phones at having lost their companions in the shopping jam, and rushing to the next thing on their to-do or to-see list. And these were mostly people on vacation! Where’s the bliss?
I wanted to announce, “People, look here, just steps away – a break from your self-imposed treadmill. If nature isn’t your thing then consider sitting in the air conditioning and talking with companions instead of texting and checking Facebook. Order an unusual food and savor it. Try a local massage, take a yoga class! Be present in whatever you choose do. It will refresh you far more than your to-do list.”
It’s a good reminder for all of us treadmill champions to schedule some time for self-care and be present to the experience. Maybe for you it’s a run and the peak moment you experience with a runner’s high. Maybe it’s working on that quilt you’ve been creating for your grandchild, or sitting quietly with a purring cat on your lap as you stroke his fur. Maybe it’s painting, composing music, or playing Scrabble with a friend. What’s your respite? Take time to do it. Feel the ahhh; feel good. Sometimes all it takes is a reminder that you can get off your treadmill, if only for a while.
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