I am amazed by how big the ocean is. You stand ashore, and as far as the eye can see is nothing but blue. The depths are equally awe-inspiring. In “shallow” regions, the water can be 600 feet deep; in not-so-shallow waters, it can be 20,000 feet without breaking a sweat. Twenty thousand feet of water…for miles upon miles…as far as the eye can see.
I’ve spent the last week on vacation in Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian islands. And although I have the pictures and the tan to prove it, still I almost can’t believe it. When I was in kindergarten, I lied to my teacher about where I’d spent my Spring Break. When she asked, “Maui” tumbled out instantly like it was the absolute truth. It took 25 years for the law of attraction to manifest, and for the universe to align itself with my 6 year-old self. But no matter the time it took, I’m so grateful fiction actually became truth.
Last Saturday was a gorgeous afternoon, and I spent it on a whalewatching adventure. We left Ma’alea Harbor and set sail for open water. How often do you get to do that in life? Hop on a boat headed for the middle of the Pacific Ocean to look for humpback whales? And nevermind your snarky remarks about the precise location of “the middle of the ocean.” Unless you’re within sight of shore, you might as well be in the middle. The ocean is nature’s version of Hov - what’s 50,000 feet to a mothafucka like me, can you please remind me?
So yeah. In the middle of the ocean, we crept up on a precocious calf swimming along with its mama and male escort. It breached the ocean’s surface several times, and I’m convinced it waved its lil fin at us to say “hello.” It was such a playful thing. We even got a glimpse of mama’s and escort’s tails as they resubmerged, and we learned that when you see the humpback’s tail, her head is already 40 feet below. Them jon’ts is big. And yet, as big as they are (about the size of a bus), humpbacks remain the sixth largest whale. Maui sun reflecting off the white pigmentation of the male’s pectoral fin made his underside appear turquoise blue beneath the surface. The color was striking, as was the realization that I wasn’t at Sea World watching trained whales in captivity. I was in the Pacific Ocean watching whales do what whales do. Naturally.
It was amazing.
What I’m getting at here is the nature of nature. I wondered what I’d take away from my experience in Hawai’i. I’m just a girl from Phenix City, Alabama, but there I was awash in sunshine and endless blue sky on an island in the middle of the ocean. What was I supposed to absorb? How was I supposed to be changed?
And then I saw it. “It” was an advertisement for the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. The narration went like this:
There is a place
where you can take the weight of the world off your shoulders
and replace it with sunshine.
Where saltwater isn’t just good for your complexion
it does wonders for your disposition.
Where Mother Nature wraps her arms around you
and never lets go.
Where your every wish is anticipated
Your home away from everything.
The time will come when you have to leave.
But like the tide,
you’ll be back again.
I get touched by the slightest things. The idea of Mother Nature wrapping her arms around you and never letting go warms my soul. That sentiment is exactly what Hawai’i was for me – it was all I hoped it would be, and better than I could have imagined. The landscape is lush and green while the West Maui mountain tops peak through the fluffiest white clouds I’ve ever seen. Sunsets turn the sky magnificent hues of pink and yellow and orange. Maui, even unedited, is postcard perfect.
I’ve never left a vacation spot, and seriously considered making it my home. But Hawai’i moved me. I reveled in the serenity of being surrounded by natural beauty. It is humbling in its splendor. And humbling to give over deference to something bigger, more awesome, more magnificent than yourself. For me, nature is that thing.
Although I have no interest in hiking up mountains and camping without electricity and hot water, I have gained greater appreciation for the world around me in its natural form. And I appreciate people who appreciate what a luxury it is to be in the presence of such beauty every day. The folks I met had a different energy about them. It was calm, welcoming; it was good. They knew what they had, and knew it was meant to be shared.
In that spirit, I share with y’all some photos and some memories from the most amazing trip I’ve taken so far. I hope you are able to see what I saw.
Aloha and Mahalo to Maui.