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18 years ago yesterday, my father died. I was 25 years old, and when I got home from the funeral, I turned in my resignation letter at my office job and left for Hawaii.
I can't say for sure that my father's death was the reason for me suddenly "throwing away" everything that had seemed important and secure, in lieu of a complete gypsy life. But then again, my father never really got to do what he wanted to do with his life, and when he died, his voice wouldn't leave me alone. He kept haunting my dreams, saying, "Go do it now, Son...do it, now..."
18 years later, in the earlier part of this month, I returned to Kalalau Valley, on the north shore of Kauai--the most remote part of an island which itself is often called "the most remote place on earth". I felt like the 18-year mark was a good time to reflect back on my life. After all, 18 years is enough time, it seems, to "grow up" all over again.
This time, though, I didn't go there alone.
My lover, Jimmy, accompanied me. His companionship was such a rich blessing, and all in all, the trip proved what my Russian friends had taught me. They taught me that if you think you've made friends with someone, you take them to the wilderness with you, and that's where you find out for sure.
It was easy. with Jimmy...even in spite of the fact that the 11-mile-long Kalalau Trail takes most of us two days to hike in and two days to hike out, and is considered by many to be one of the most 10 dangerous trails in the world.
The greatest lesson learned was that it never is as hard as it looks. There were places where the trail literally was only a few inches wide, with nothing below it but a thousand-foot drop! Sometimes, it looked completely impossible, but only upon actually reaching that place that looked "impossible" was it possible to realize that it really was completely passible...with time, deliberation, and patience...
At the end of the trail, we found a paradise filled with waterfalls, a wild, open beach, and even a tribe of modern-day hippy-gypsies who have actually chosen to live there and call it home! The concept of "time" dissolved. It's hard to tell anyone exactly what we "did" all day, as the notion of "doing" somehow just dissipated, and in its place...presence. I would say that all in all, we emerged completely changed. People are still telling Jimmy at work that he "still hasn't really come back from vacation". And I have to agree. When you find the Garden of Eden, is there really ever such thing as "coming back"?
I'm still reflecting...After all, 18 years between visits to Kalalau is enough time for a guy like me to experience some REAL "growing up". And having been back there, to that "most remote place on Earth," I'm happy to say that I feel like I've started all over again, at zero.
Amen. Blessed Be.