The Perils of Paradise
Sunrise in Oahu isn’t just a gradual brightening in the eastern sky over a placid ocean, accompanied by the obligatory breathtaking pink-gold clouds. It’s also a deep gray mass obscuring the top of a nearby volcanic mountain, shedding buckets of rain, and the twinkling lights of the streets and houses on a distant hillside, as the town awakens and prepares for work on this Monday morning.
Like my life, this sunrise not just one thing at a time, but a whole host of weather systems swirling around at once. The quality of the light changes, based on which direction I focus my gaze.
The one theme that is carried throughout is the beauty of the disparate microclimates, reminding me that even when the darkness and the rain are present, there’s something uplifting in it for me, if I’m willing to treat it like the view from my balcony in Waikiki.
For me, a trip like this—a stroke of immense good fortune by any measure, filled with a sense of gratitude and an acknowledgement of its blessings—is always accompanied by a small, unsettled voice like the dark cloud that surrounds yonder mountaintop. The voice prophesies some impending doom, some price that will have to be paid, some shoe that will inevitably drop.
I manufacture worry, even as I sit overlooking Paradise, drinking the strong local coffee, relaxed, healthy and whole. “Can we really afford this?” I lament, fully cognizant that the airline tickets were free. “Shouldn’t I be creating my next workshop?” I fret, knowing that everything has been unfolding with a joyful sense of ease that I couldn’t have imagined.
Today, I resolve, I will treat my worry like the clouds I see to the North—as something to marvel at, as natural as the rain, which may pass in time, or be a permanent part of the landscape. I can’t deny its existence, but I can allow it to be.
The abundant beauty of the natural features is broken by stacked and crowded high-rise apartments and resort hotels. Christmas lights adorn one balcony, an anachronistic reminder that time isn’t as linear as we might like to think. I can focus on the vaguely pink and vaguely ugly concrete and glass rectangles, or notice the reflections of the sky they contain. I can bemoan my lack of a clear view of the beach, or see the palms and banyans that occupy every inch of space not covered in concrete.
I’m taking it all in. My field of view from the balcony, as from my life, is as broad as I allow it to be, and filled with contrast, irony, and moments to be deeply pondered or steadfastly ignored. As the sun crests the dozen-storied building that blocks the horizon, warming my face, I reconnect with my essential nature, which doesn’t have a care in the world. There’s another chair here on the balcony. Care to join me?