Free

A few warm days with strong wind blowing in the early afternoon. I have been watching the red-tailed hawks dominate the sky with their graceful aerial techniques. They find such freedom from effort as they lift on the updrafts without flapping their wings even once. I see from my journal entry of one year ago that I had just returned from spending some restful days in Kauai, away and free from the home land and the dizzy pace of life I live. Here it is a year later and I am about to return to Kauai for two more weeks. If I did not have two daughters living there I might be going somewhere else, but another visit there will serve me just fine. My only requirements for preparation are a tooth brush, a pair of sandals, and five hours of air time. This will be my fifth trip to Kauai and perhaps my tenth or twelfth time to the island chain. The first time in 1973 we camped out of a car among the pineapple fields when my older daughter was very young. How is it that she and her sister would later choose to live the tropical beach life? Surely the idea did not come from me.

More than once I have considered the move myself, but several extended visits may provide the inspiration I need. The heat from laying on the beach all day tires me. My skin does not like to be baked like it once did, but I will never tire of swimming, snorkeling or riding waves on my tummy in warm water. I love to sit under chattering palm trees on the beach when a quick-moving rain cloud swims by and gives birth to a rainbow. The energy I sense from being under the palms feels much different than when under the canopy of California redwood trees, which have an intense majesty about them that continues to astonish me. On this California side of the Pacific the water is cold enough to always make my teeth chatter, even on the warmest of days. The coolness of our summer air in the Santa Cruz Mountains I find to be a little more life-giving than the languorous Hawaiian heat.

How nice to be able to go back and forth between California and Hawaii. If I had the luxuries of both time and money I would come more often to the islands. Visiting them has always been for the purpose of vacation. Leaving them, I always know that I must return to the mainland and to the office life. How goes the saying that he who tries to save his life will lose it? When away for a week or two and trying to savor the gentle beauty and vivid imagery of the coast and mountains of Hawaii, I find myself trying to get as much enjoyment as possible out of my excursion, but the enjoyment is such an elusive proposition for me. It feels forced or contrived. When the vacation is over and I must return home, I feel disappointed. Relaxing and feeling free are fleeting conditions. I know that my physical surroundings have a huge influence on how I feel. I would like to be able to bottle up splendid Hawaiian days to bring them home and enjoy them once again when life seems tedious or difficult. Sometimes I will listen to Hawaiian music, slack key guitar or ukulele to try to capture that spirit for an hour or two. The music will often work its magic spell on me. Days come to me when I know I just need to be out under the trees, any trees, or watching the clouds, any clouds, as a way of positioning my mind so that it may appreciate the greatness of a moment.

I recently considered taking up fishing once again. I quit because I seldom caught anything. My purpose would not be to feed myself, but look for an excuse to sit along the shore with the wind in my face and my mind free of concern; the kind of experience I look forward to when I visit Kauai. I see a few diligent fishermen on the old cement ship in Aptos. The busted up old ship is anchored in sand and has been turned into a place for people to go fish or take a look at the sea. The fishermen bring their folding chairs and plastic bait buckets, portable radios, sunglasses and lunch bags, and park themselves for an hour or two of communication with the elements. I delight in the idea of spending some time with that crowd when my work life is soon done. Strap on my headphones and listen to some ukulele music. I expect all I might catch would be a few tiny silvery perch or sunfish. I would set them free.

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