Fire Headland: On Darkness and Light

Le’ahi (Diamond Head), Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Life should be lived to the point of tears.” – Albert Camus

It was 11:50PM and I had just landed at the San Francisco airport. Though plagued with ravenous hunger, the only available meal option was Burger King, so I opted out. Instead of feeding myself, I decided to find a place for the night as my flight was not set to board until the next morning 6:44 AM. After walking through different gates, I spotted a footrest that would allow me to get a few hours of sleep. I vividly remember laying down on a blanket I had acquired at the previous flight and using my small carry-on as a pillow. As I lay down, I was overwhelmed with tears of pure joy. This was the beginning of two months straight on the road and there aren’t enough words on this Earth to express the level of fulfillment I felt in that moment. I felt home. There I was, on the first leg of a travel bender. Four hours later, I was wide awake.

As soon as I landed in Honolulu, blood rushed through my body at fiery speeds. Even before leaving airport grounds, I was overcome by the warmth of home. That feeling of home, again. My heart was warm, though my body was freezing from extended amount of time indoors, with AC. I skipped through the airport on the way to my rental car. Once in my rental car, I let out of a shriek of joy.  “You will learn here.” Whispered my soul.

From the airport, I made my way to Le’ahi or what is commonly referred to as Diamond Head. Though time zone changes can affect our circadian rhythms, I was deeply grateful that in this case, it worked to my advantage; It was only 10AM! Running on adrenaline and joy, I made my way to the top and finally stopped to breathe. As I looked at my surroundings, tears began to stroll down my eyes.  The ten months prior to my arrival on the island had been less than favorable, but in that moment everything made sense. At its peak, I was able to gain perspective. I stayed at the top for a few moments, looking at the island,  the city, the Pacific Ocean, looking at those around me….one of my life cycles came to completion in a fire headland, in a head of diamonds {For a view of Honolulu from the top, click here and scroll down}.

After making my way down, I hopped in my car, drove around the island, windows down, music blasting, tears of joy decorating my cheeks, with nowhere to be, but here and now. “This is it.” I thought to myself,  This is it. Suddenly, I felt the need to turn on to a street, get out the car, and feel the power deeply rooted on Hawaiian soil. Like a child filled with wonder, I submerged in muddy patches, and eventually discovered a trail that led to a waterfall! Luckily, I hadn’t checked in at my hotel yet, so I was able to use a my flight blanket as a floor rag to not dirty my rental car. This was the beginning of a grand adventure.

Banyan tree in Nu’uanu Valley

At hotel check-in, I realized I hadn’t consumed a proper meal in what was nearly forty-eight hours. I quickly filled up my water bottle, dropped my stuff off in my room and made my way down to the infamous Waikiki beach. I found food, I found beautiful spirits; Nourishment for my soul. As I watched the sun set and the spirit of the night awaken, I looked out to the horizon and felt divinity wrap the entirety of my being in delight, as I’d never known before. The words from Cheryl Strayed’s Wild echoed in my head, “How wild it was, to let it be.”

Eventually, I made my way to my hotel where I had difficulty falling asleep. After a slow-flow yoga sequence on the ocean essence filled balcony in my room, I made my way downstairs and met a fellow East coaster. “Can’t sleep ?” he asks. I nod. We converse until the little coffee shop near us, opens. It turns out he was also on the island for work, but missing his family back home; Perspective. Though I couldn’t relate, because I felt so complete, there was a place in my heart filled with compassion. For some people, travel feels like a chore. I wished him success and wished him well. The rest of my time on the island was filled with similar serendipitous encounters; meeting the right people at the right time. Even the work I did while at my site on the island felt infused with purpose.

The Byodo-In Temple, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park
Kahaluu, O’ahu, Hawaii

“The dance between darkness and light will always remain— the stars and the moon will always need the darkness to be seen, the darkness will just not be worth having without the moon and the stars.”  C. JoyBell C.

Interactive exercise: If you have any social media platform, do a quick search of the travel hashtag  (#travel)

Chances are that you were greeted by overwhelming images of all the natural and man-made beauty this Earth holds space for; breathtaking ones. I particularly enjoy, looking at photographs of the same spaces through multiple lenses, through different perspectives. A photograph is nothing more than a subjective interpretation of reality. No two people will capture the exact same angle of a particular landscape.

However, chances are you won’t see the dark side of travel.  It can be exhausting. The wear and tear will inevitably show up in your body, where you will then have to take appropriate steps to bring your fleshy vessel back to equilibrium. There will be nights sleeping at airports and nights with no sleep. Food that may not align with your highest expectations (Although once you land you typically have a larger range of control as to what goes into your body). There will be unfair situations, airline snafus, lots of waiting time, last minutes changes, sprints across airports as if your life depended on it, flight delays, cancellations, and more interruptions than you can imagine. And if you’ve never encountered this  while traveling, travel long enough and it is bound to occur at least once. In the past I’ve been accused of being one who had a pact with darkness, someone committed to a dark path. I’m not sure that I interpret that as a negative accusation, as I think there’s some validity in the statement. As an individual, I am more than committed to bringing treasures from the darkness into the light. Yet in order to carry out this mission, I must be willing to sleep, reside, eat with, entertain, and be in relationship with darkness.

“I think he said that his fearlessness was that he always created room for fear. It was always allowed into the discourse. FEAR NEEDS GOOD COMPANY. It needs the company of courage. It needs the company of discernment. It needs to not stand alone. When any idea stands in isolation; when any emotion isn’t integrated into the greater matrix of relationships, it becomes a liability rather than an asset. Courage is a liability without fear because then it becomes impetuousness, recklessness.” From my brilliant teacher, Douglas Brooks

I love to travel. I’m passionate about travel. I deeply desire travel. Yet, I think it’s important that as I continue to share my stories, I share the process into which I arrive to my destinations. The process isn’t always as picturesque as the destination, but it’s in the process that I find the golden stories.  I’ve pushed and broken past comfort zones while traveling.  By traveling, I’ve learned details about my being that may have remained otherwise undiscovered. Via constant travel, I’ve been able to witness the different paths that multiple souls have chosen to make their time on Earth count. I am humbled that this is a part of my human experience. I feel privileged that in the act of travel, in process of discovering the other, be it souls or geographic spaces, I am pushed to my edge and faced with the darkest of my demons, which can be witnessed and transformed for the greater good.

The rest of my time in O’ahu was magical: Haleiwa, Pupukea, Turtle Bay Resort, Kawela Bay, La’ie Point State Wayside, Kualoa Ranch, Koko Head District Park, and the heart of Honolulu.  When living in a state of magic, time seems to slip away, to melt away, to disappear. From there, I hopped on a plane and made my way, way east to the island of Puerto Rico, where more sublime beauty and lessons awaited.  While making my way to JFK, I met Clayton, whom at the time was a recently divorced dad of two from Vancouver, whom had just returned from a fishing and surfing adventure in Cabo San Lucas – more about the story once I make my way to Cabo! For the two months that followed, I was on the road, from destination to destination in a state of bliss.

A very special thank you to Mike, who drove me around O’ahu. Mahalo Mike!

I’ll be returning to O’ahu this coming April/May and I’m excited to see what awaits.


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