On April 1, 2000, I was on a flight to Maui, Hawaii. It was my first trip to Hawaii and my first official day of freedom. My life experiences have since been classified as pre-Hawaii or post-Hawaii. I’ve often described April 1, 2000 as the fateful day where I chose the “red pill.” I’ve since considered on a number of more painful occasions if I should have chosen the “blue pill,” but settle always back on being grateful for the journey “down the rabbit hole.” For those who have not seen the movie, “the Matrix,” from which I am referencing I say only – where have you been!
Hawaii was symbolic choice for me. In high school, my mother’s partner of 11 years died of cancer within 6 months of the diagnosis. He was a retired foreman from a manufacturing company after 30 years or so of service, and had saved up about $100k in the bank. His biggest dream was to go to Hawaii someday. He clearly had the funds to take the trip, and having been retired for several years prior to his death, also had the time to go. He spent every dime on medical bills “surviving” the last 6 months of his life. As a 16 year old kid, I was enlightened early to the very real understanding that tomorrow isn’t promised, and someday might not ever come if you wait too long.
His sudden death left an impression certainly, but the thing that stuck with me most was the fact that he never went to Hawaii. What good was all of that money he worked so hard for if he couldn’t at least have the ONE THING he wanted most. I vowed that this would most certainly never happen to me – EVER! I went through a phase (as you may have read in my “default life” blog) where I used my concern for my eminent death as the anti-venom of delayed gratification. I waited for nothing. If I wanted an experience, I found a way to have it. I was a compulsive shopper – so much so that I thought I had a biological predisposition for shopping. It was a downright gift, and self proclaimed badge of honor when I trucked home 5 bags filled with clothes for under $500 – every weekend. The downside was I wasn’t living for anything. Despite my love for shopping, I was not so dead as to consider this a meaningful life. It was all I knew. But, I was always searching for the meaning of my life…
The upside of the “anti-venom” was that it came with a profound appreciation (almost need) for new opportunities and experiences. My fear of dying-with-regrets overrides my fear of taking risks and stepping into the unknown. My acute awareness of how much time I have to accomplish things in life has perpetuated a constant state of urgency. Morbid view – perhaps – but one of my favorite authors, Carlos Castenda, often talked about the life principle of “using death as an advisor” for overcoming our own indulgence in our self-pity and complaints about life.
I can’t say that I had the kind of enlightenment that Eckhart Tolle describes in his book “Power of Now.” I wish! I have most definitely been consumed by my own life drama – why else do you think I need to create a blog to document the past ten years. If I were so enlightened, I would have 2 blog entries and nothing much to say that anyone could relate to. I like to believe that I would have preferred getting the “get out jail free” card, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go straight from awakening to peace, happiness, fulfillment and financial freedom right! Instead, I have the dichotomy of opposite moments to share: total freedom and utter suffering, and the insights that have shaped my view of life. I do believe – despite all of my resistance to aging – this is called wisdom.
Before the “Law of Attraction” was popularized by the movie “the Secret,” I couldn’t describe the freedom that I experienced in a way that people wouldn’t describe as “airy-fairy.” Now, I can simply say that my trip to Hawaii brought into my life the first wave of experiences where I was completely in-the-flow. I was a magnet for attracting everything that I needed, exactly when I needed with just the mere thought. There had only been one other time in my life that I recall having this totally magical experience and unencumbered feeling of being free from constraints and opinions of others. Whereas the Hawaii experience lasted a few months, this lasted only about 1 hour during a long hike in Joshua Tree, when I felt totally free. My hiking buddy (who was walking in front of me) turned to find me strolling around with a big smile on my face with nothing but my socks and shoes. I just had a sudden urge to just be naked.
You have to understand. I was an auditor for a public accounting firm. I wore black suits, pantyhose, and neat little neck scarfs. Walking around the desert without the constraints of my clothes without the influence of any kind of alcohol or drug was not in the calendar as a scheduled activity in the life of Mayumi. I was in my mid 20’s, and I had never been able to recreate the experience until Hawaii.
Not to confuse people, being in-the-flow doesn’t equate to nudity; however, it is a bit like shedding the weight of life and the significance of our circumstances. In a way, I discovered that my experience in both Joshua Tree and Hawaii was more about surrender than anything else. I had come to realize that I really didn’t know how to create happiness. I just knew what happiness was not. Most people get here when they get a “second chance” at life. I am grateful that my high school experience provided me with the same kind of “second chance” moment without the physical suffering. Forever trying to piece together what it was about this moment that made it so sacred, I realized that one of the aspects of bringing forth the “law of attraction” or getting-in-the-flow was surrendering to and stepping into the unknown.
So, what happened in Hawaii? I flew my mom out for the first half – a sort of acknowledgement that her partner’s wish might have been hers as well – and I camped the last 10 days. I slept a good portion of the first half of the trip…sorry mom! I rented a car, a mountain bike, and set out to camp by myself for the last 10 days. My independent nature was (no doubt) a difficult burden to carry for my mom, but she gave me a lot of room to spread my wings in the world…thank you! I didn’t know much about camping. My first try many years ago with a friend in the Grand Canyon was an interesting beginning as I lacked the basic necessities one would bring to the wild like a lantern and toilet paper and a sleeping bag for the sub-50 degree evenings. However, it didn’t dampen my love for being in nature.
Of course I didn’t plan ahead and didn’t consider the possibility that campsites might be booked out in advance. I just went to Maui with my backpack, and decided I’d figure it out when I arrived. I managed to book a camp-site for the first 3 nights (that was maximum number of consecutive nights you could stay per site) in Haleakula at 7,000 feet. I was surprised to find the site completely empty. I went about setting up camp and preparing my dinner – still noone. I’m surrounded by woods and pretty much nothing else for miles. So, I’m starting to freak out a little bit at this point. I drive to the nearest set of payphones – to phone a friend – and decide that if noone shows up I can always get a bed and breakfast spot later. As I drive back to camp, I pass a pickup truck with a group of men unloading their shotguns just outside of the campsite. Now, I am past freaking out, I am terrified. I contemplate what the next move is going to be as I am in the woods by myself without a cell phone, where noone knows how to find me except for the men with guns. I somehow manage to calm down and decide to stay the night.
Well, I did remember the toilet paper, but didn’t realize that at 7,000 feet it is extremely cold at night despite being 80 degrees during the day. So, I was in bed by nightfall and awake by 1 or 2am still clutching the pocket knife, freezing and shivering. Grateful for some quick thinking, I pulled the tarp from outside under the tent and wrapped in around my sleeping bag as another layer of warm. It did the trick, I was like a warm burrito and back to sleep. By 4am, I was awake again. Scared and tired, I dragged myself into the rental car, turned on the heat and asked myself – what the hell am I thinking!!!
Having almost never been up this early in the morning, I decided to drive to the summit of Haleakela some 14,000 feet to watch the sunrise. There are a few moments that take my breath away. Watching the sunrise over the clouds at the tip of a mountain was truly breath taking. Filled with a sense of peace and awed by the power of nature, I drove back down the mountain to the site, and just put out there to the Universe that I would stay if someone arrived at the site and I would leave otherwise. I made peace with my choice and just trusted that it would all work out. Shortly after my morning walk, lunch, and afternoon nap, a young couple drove in and later filled the site with the welcome sounds of their acoustic guitar. I stayed and the journey of trusting and letting go began to deepen.
I found friendly neighbors in the Hana campsite during my next 3 day stay, and enjoyed the lively site by the ocean. While driving into town on my last day at the site, unsure of where I would sleep that night and for my last 4 days on the island, I passed a young man and woman hitchhiking. Never in all of my life have I ever picked up hitchhikers, but there was something about the look in the young man’s eyes that made me pull over. He was so peaceful that it grabbed me. I had a car, they didn’t, what was the harm. I drove them to the town, and learned about their respective 2 and 3 year journeys with nothing but a backpack across the world. Made me really question how brave I was actually being in my rental car in the great wild. Nonetheless, we all had an instant connection. They invited me to a “full moon rave.” They explained that every so often, locals would gather by this cave on the shore with their tents and listen to music. I thought a few guitars, couple of tents, and another night of safe sleep sounded perfect. So, Viola! The need was resolved. I arrived to a DJ setup in a cave adorned with lights, lots of tents, the friendliest people I have ever met, a couple with an infant about 6 or 8 months old sleeping peacefully in her mother’s arms as she rocked to the captivating ambient music that filled the space without overtaking any of the conversations. The full moon lit the coastline, where the ocean met rocks the size of large papayas which spilled into the softest white sand I have ever felt on my feet. Every time the ocean waves crashed on shore, and the moon pulled the water back to the ocean, the drag against the rocks created this soothing rhythm – nature’s music. It simply lulled me in a trance-like state. I could have never planned an experience like this. This magical experience showed up when I needed it, through an act of generosity to another, and from an action outside of my normal routine.
And so it went like that for the rest of my trip. I needed a warm shower. Without looking for it or asking for it aloud, I met a couple with a 3 year old little boy who surprised me with an invitation to dinner and use of their hot shower. I needed a place to camp for 3 more nights, and I met a local at a concert in the park who taught me the rules of camping on public beaches (sorry, can’t divulge the secret.) I was totally taken care of, and never went without. I had no doubt that I was not guiding the ship, but rather a willing and grateful passenger to the magnificence and awe of the laws of nature. I was humbled and blessed.
On my flight home to San Diego, I sat in the emergency row with another middle aged gentleman. The flight attendant came to us reminding us of the rules of sitting in the emergency row and asked us if we agreed to perform our duties. We both said yes. She continued to hover over us for what seemed like a long minute, and asked us if we knew that you had to be at least 15 years of age to sit in the emergency row. My fellow passenger and I were both chuckling at this point, and replied affirming our understanding. And, she remained still. I looked up to her interestingly, and she finally blurted out to me “are you at least 15 years old?” I smiled and replied simply, “I’m 27.” The man next me gave himself whiplash flipping his head to stare at me, and whooped loud enough for the entire plane to here, “WHAT?!!” The flight attendant clearly younger than me, apologized and moved on. What was funny is that she didn’t think I was even 15. How old exactly did I look? The moral of the story…go to Hawaii…you’ll drop at least 12 years off your age.
No, in all seriousness, for a while, I thought it was Hawaii that created the magical experience, brought back my youthful exuberance, and gave me peace. After several returns to the islands in the past 10 years in hopes to re-ignite a lost flame, I’ve come to realize that it is a truly beautiful island, but not the source of my freedom. In fact, on my ten year anniversary of freedom and one year wedding anniversary this year (April 2010) my husband and I went back to our favorite island of Kauai. During our stay, we trying to piece together the formula of what has been the source of our in-the-flow life experiences. After vigorously debating whether or not visualizations and daily expressions of gratitude or daily mediations were at the source, my husband and I recalled the magical moments we’ve had and came up with few central themes seemed to reappear consistently for both of us.
Each time we experienced the presence of MAGIC and became master manifesters, we were always INSPIRED, had complete FAITH in the fulfillment of our inspiration, and stepped completely out of our comfort zone SURRENDERING TO THE UNKNOWN.
The first decade (post-Hawaii) has affectionately been themed: FREEDOM. I know this now because on April 1, 2010, I was absolutely clear that the theme of that decade was over, and that what my life was next about: FAMILY. I’ve discovered much about my FREEDOM journey these past 10 years. Next chapter I’ll share about INSPIRATION and the discovery of my purpose and meaning of life upon my return from Hawaii. And, in case you were wondering, I came back “cured” of my biological predisposition to shopping. I think I’ve shopped in 10 years (post-Hawaii) as much as I shopped in 10 weeks (pre-Hawaii.) Another interesting discovery that I’ll share in another blog. Until next time…