Was it really one week ago today that the boys and I had a wild Wednesday exploring Oahu? Man, it feels like a year ago now that we are slammed right back into the world of scheduled sports, activities, school obligations, limitations, structured demands…Ahh, how my mind loves to linger on last Wednesday when our morning began at the crack of dawn and we were in the water exploring Hanauma Bay by 8 a.m.! The freedom of going where your heart leads you and discovering what awaits, is delicious. We discovered so many colors, variations of light and amazing varieties of fish. Such a luxury! After our snorkel, my friend who is an eco-hiking guide picked us up at the Crater overlook around the corner from the Bay. Daniel took us hiking last year and went off trail to show us old WW11 bunkers and varieties of plants only found on Oahu—like a variety of a sea star that morphed and adapted in order to live at the top of volcanoes. So Cool. I love discovering new things, as our structured American lives just doesn’t allow for much of that anymore.
So Daniel, who grew up in West Virginia and ‘gets me’—who also grew up exploring forests—decided to take us to a very private space. He knew I grew up wandering the woods, forest and farm right outside my door. I explored. I discovered. I meandered. My kids don’t get to do any of that. So…Dan took us to a Homestead on the North Shore. When Hawaii became our 50th state, America gave some land to 100% Hawaiians, like our Indian reservations, except that they are neighborhoods free or drastically-reduced for native Hawaiians. With that said, we walked to the end of this neighborhood with a few locals coming out, smiling and some giving us the shaka sign. They knew where we were going, but the boys and I didn’t. We entered a forest through a grove of vines and a stream to cross, then began climbing a mountain range. Our hike was muddy, rainy, a bit tricky at times as my youngest slipped or lost his shoes on occasion…but was wonderful. The long hike to the top was filled with moments of silence, breeze, hard rain fall with brief moments of stillness, and ever-changing environments. At one point all we could see were feathery pine trees, then we entered a forest with trees towering over us that had to be hundreds of years old.
All the while, Dan pointed out discoveries, such as Noni fruit, a Polynesian stinky fruit that is known for its healing properties. (It tastes horrible!) We also climbed a ravine to pick strawberry guava and found passion fruit vines, as well as plant stems that tasted like peppermint.
We also found wild pepper, tiny red mushrooms, enormous slugs and moss so vivid green and fluffy it almost didn’t seem real. Our four hour excursion led us to the top of the ridge, after climbing a slippery, muddy, bald hill where we all kept sliding back down and covered in mud! But we made it! What a view!
If you ask the boys, they’ll say this wild Wednesday was the best day of our trip. We were explorers for a day. We discovered the wild inhabitants of the ocean and the forrest. I was so lucky as a child. I explored nearly every week. I meandered through 200 year old horse trails and discovered a rusted out Model T Ford, old horse saddles and Confederate coins. I sat by ponds and watch tadpoles literally jump from the water as they turned into tiny, tiny frogs. If I sat still long enough in one spot of the woods, I’d always hear the crunch of hooves as the deer sensed it was safe to come out from hiding and began nibbling all around me. Near sunset, always by the Tobacco barn, I’d hear the flutter of wings from the bat patrol flying out to feast on the mosquitos. How I loved them! On special occasions I’d see an owl.
The horses were always wonderful, but they were in stables or in corrals. I always said hello, but then headed for the forest where I could be with the wild. To me, wild isn’t crazy. Today’s definition of wild is almost always connected to something to be feared. To me, wild is pure, raw, natural, indigenous and innocent. The deer, the squirrels, the chip monks, the geckos, the wood peckers, the frogs, the fox, the owls, the rabbits, the butterflies, the bats—even the enormous spiders and snakes—all captivated me. I came out to the woods to explore, but also to get away from my very noisy and dramatic family where I felt invisible. Being quiet and sitting still for a period, always meant that those creatures who were afraid and who hid, would eventually feel comfortable being seen by me. And that was such a kick. Their trust allowed me to feel seen, to feel heard, to feel connected to all that is innocent, pure and intricately created in this Universe. We all need time alone and out in nature.
My boys don’t have that. Our children aren’t allowed to explore as we fear they’ll be snatched. Activities are structured, crowded, and don’t encourage independent discovery or exploration. That’s why I love hiking so much and one day soon will allow my oldest to hike on his own in Malibu or in Tennessee. It’s just good for the soul. In yoga, we talk about modifying a pose to honor your body. We also stretch to make more space for better alignment, better balance. These concepts can be taken off the mat with our children. I need to modify our schedules to make more space for idyll hiking, random exploration in nature and discovery. There’s no better way for the boys and I to feel connected to the Earth, to each other and to our inner wisdom. It starts in childhood.
Today, one week after our epic day in Hawaii, I’m holding onto the idea of making space. The holiday season has too many demands on us. Today, I embrace the idea of saying no to a few demands in order to make space for what’s important. What’s important to you? Where do you need to make more space?