I’ve been sleeping on the porch for the last two nights. Just can’t get enough of the ocean, the rainstorms, the stars, the singing birds, the clouds, the trade winds, the feeling of total love and relaxation here in Paradise, otherwise known as Kaena, Kauai.
We are staying at my niece’s friend’s charming, vintage, Hawaiianesque/Malibu-y cottage a stone’s throw from the ocean. I’m with Julie’s family, my sister and cousin and today is our last full day. And no, I don’t want to leave. Ever. I want to wave goodbye to my peeps and say, “Mahalo, I’ll see you when you come back,” and then have my third mug of Kona coffee and return to the porch, read, write, create art, listen to Hawaiian music and later in the day, wander over to the food trucks for some dinner. Or maybe I’ll eat two papayas instead, with a scoop of yogurt and macademia nut granola.
It is sprinkling again. And my sun-dried, ocean-crisped skin is, fortunately, re-hydrating. The birds, these fascinating, abundant members of the Los Angeles Chorale, are serenading me. Honestly, it feels like I’m in Disney’s “Snow White” and these Celine Dion-tongued birds are musically encircling me with an orchid lei. But I’m not doing a jig, I’m writing, trying my best to capture Paradise in a Box so I can take it back with me to the Mainland, open it like a jeweled case, and whenever I feel the need, conjure this vibrant land of watercolor possibilities ,
I don’t want to go home. Oh, that’s right, I don’t have a home. I could actually stay as long as I want. And maybe I will.
Just not right now.
I’m in the settling-into-retirement blissful stage. A year ago, I stopped working as a teacher. There was that stage of adjustment of not being and feeling “needed” 24/7. When I sold my home, there was the letting-go of material possessions/memories/my life as I knew it stage. And now I am riding the Mahalo outrigger canoe in the balmy, tropical seas stage. Maybe I’ll go here, maybe I’ll go there, maybe I’ll wake up at dawn and write, maybe I’ll stay up until 2 a.m. and read. Maybe I’ll take up photography, become a rainbow chaser, play the ukulele, or become a long-distance swimmer. Maybe I’ll never watch CNN again or read the newspaper. Maybe I’ll become an Origami Master specializing in paper airplanes. Or maybe I’ll just sit here and watch the shifting clouds, admire the ever-changing wave patterns or get my paints out and try to capture the spirit of The Magic Tree that sits at the perimeter of the property.
To do nothing, is to do everything sometimes.
Now, I have a reason to get up–for me. I get to decide what I will learn today, how I will grow, what I will accomplish—for myself. This phase/stage takes some adjusting to. I never had the Me-Me-Me 20s, as I was a single parent of a baby and a little boy. Then all of life happened.
I am proud of my accomplishments, proud I strived to do my best when I was a journalist and a teacher. I’m proud of my adult children, proud of my grandchildren, but now I have that thing inside me, I do not know what it is, but I know it is within me Next Chapter.
Just sitting. Just looking. Just feeling. Just listening. Just laughing. Just chatting with family, with strangers, who in Hawaii can instantly become your best friends. Just relaxing. Is everything.
It’s like the lush gardens and the egret hunting for tiny lizards in the soaked, knotted grass; he knows food is plentiful, why rush? Enjoy the journey.
The next sunrise, the next sunset, another swim, a day paddling along the river near Princeville, perhaps a shaved ice in the afternoon, and a celebration sunset dinner. This is on today’s—the last day here in Paradise—To Do List.
In this quietude, before the children wake up and the energy of joy shakes the very foundation of this cottage with a forever-view, I breathe-in the moist air, bow down to the rising sun and say, “Thank you.” Never in my whole life have I ever experienced such a beautiful, relaxing, just-perfect home at exactly the right time of my life.
Jump and the parachute will appear.
My wise reader-friends, you were right.