I was sitting by the pool, a perfectly blue sky and palm trees above me, a crescent beach and Anaeho’omalu Bay in front of me, and our resort hotel behind me. My wife turned to me and said, “Why the sour face? Don’t you like it here?” I answered weakly that is nice but I wasn’t sure how I could last a week in this place. My wife knowing me, “Look, you can walk the beach at least a mile to the right and two miles to the left. We also have a car, so you can go exploring. It’s a big island.”
With that my mood brightened. As she stayed to watch our 8-year-old splashing in the pool, I took a walk down the beach.
On my walk it struck me, what a strange person I was. Here we were on spring vacation in Hawai’i, and I felt trapped and miserable. I hate, hate resorts. I can’t be confined. We were at a Club Med three years ago and I vowed never to set foot in a resort again. With my wife’s words, I found my footing, literally.
I love to walk, hike, explore. I’m never happier than when I’m walking either through wilderness or a big city. When I’ve had the opportunity to visit New York, London, Tokyo, and Rome in the last three years, I’ve loved nothing better than getting up early and exploring. When I lived by Washington DC in the 1990’s, I knew the city and surrounding areas – the mountains, bay, and ocean – better after three months than friends who lived there had gotten to know it after 10 years.
I think this week in Hawai’i has reminded me that we each have our own modes of happiness and unhappiness. I feel better now knowing and accepting that I don’t much like sitting by a pool and that I’ll never play golf, gamble, watch basketball games on TV, or take a cruise. Instead I like getting to know people, my inner world, books and the concepts I learn from them, and new places in this world that I can roam and explore.
It also reminds me that since we live and move through the world so differently, we have to respect those differences and give each other the room to be different. We should hold our ways of being with respect, and that of our family, friends, and patients too.
Here is a photo I took yesterday of the “forest in the clouds” in the Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve off the Puʻu ʻŌʻō Trail on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
Until next time,
“I almost think that hope is for the soul what breathing is for the living organism. Where hope is lacking the soul dries up and withers…”
– Gabriel Marcel
“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.”
– Soren Kierkegaard
“This is the true joy of life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one… the being a force of Nature, instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
– George Bernard Shaw