The Tao and the Islands

7:41AM  Cool breeze.  Overcast. Calm ocean, no surf. 

Last full day in Hawai’i.  Time has passed more slowly for me than usual.  Often, I go on vacation and the next thing I know I’m back on the plane headed home.  This trip a variety of circumstances have slowed things down, among them Kate’s illness and my decision to get the full resort experience at the Hyatt.

When I arrived last Saturday at Da Fish Shack, I was already on Island time.  Having a place this close to the ocean did, as I’d hoped, attune me to its rhythms.  Surf comes in, goes out, comes in, goes out night and day. 

Nighttime breezes off the ocean cool the land to perfect sleeping weather and mountain breezes move the air during the heat of the day.  The slow warming of the day gives way to pleasant, dark nights with no traffic and no metro glow to dull the view of the stars.

Last night I realized the true character of this little place.  It’s a Hawai’ian hermitage, a small cell on the ocean where the soul can come for a rest and rejuvenation. 

The immediacy of ocean, mountain and lush plant life call out for malama ‘aina.  It’s not surprising that the first Hawai’ians heard the call.  Our home in Andover gives me the same sense of connection to the land, a place where Kate and I have, over years of gardening, become na kama’aina. 

The Tao almost becomes visible here on Kauai.  That is, the ebb and flow of the cosmos, its inevitable course, has so much evidence on this ancient island, already long eroded and heading toward a new life as an atoll, then its permanent one as a seamount. 

 Here in Hawai’i land emerges from the ocean with hot rock and vitality.  Rain and the ocean combine with the wind to create soil.  On the soil plants take hold, sending out roots which further fracture the lava, creating more soil.  The island moves off the hotspot and this erosive process takes over as the primary shaper of the land. (excluding bulldozers and cement) As furthest along in this process of the main high islands, Kauai has the feel of a hermit, ravaged by time and wrinkled, yet bearer of the earth’s wisdom. 

A few weeks here is only enough to catch a glimpse of the message Kauai has for us as we hurtle forward in our terraforming experiment.  The message may be, whatever happens, the earth herself will survive.