Since I have been on Oahu, I have been disconnecting from the internet and phone service as much as possible. As opposed to when I am at home, I often leave my computer and my cell phone behind in my room when I head off to work or to be with my housemates. Being somewhere this stunning has led me to focus more on being here in general, rather than physically being here, but mentally and emotionally back east. Subsequently, blogging has taken a backseat, but that does not mean it’s not along for the ride.
There are many things about this place that I remain in utter awe about, but two in particular that I would like to note are the people I have met and the sunsets I have viewed.
The farm on which I am living is called Honolulu Farms, an up-and-coming teaching farm on Oahu in the back of Palolo Valley. From the main part of town, it takes about ten minutes to get up the windy, narrow, and bumpy road that leads to the seeds of paradise. Once I got here, I could not believe that the busy city of Honolulu and the tourist destination Waikiki were merely fifteen minutes below. It is simply another world up here—one I have never experienced before, but I am so glad I am now.
The farm is focused on permaculture and sustainability. Permaculture, a subject I am still learning about, basically deals with growing food and fostering a farm in the way that nature intended. We work here to bring crops that work well together in harmony, like lemongrass and sugar cane, which we currently are adding to the front garden. We live sustainably in the sense that we use rainwater from the roof in the water system, compost all of our food remains, and use two vegetable-oil-powered cars, among other things.
Each person I have come across so far has taught me something different. In particular I had a serendipitous encounter with another woman from New Hampshire. This past Saturday, we held a class at the farm on medicinal and edible herbs. At the beginning of the class, I overhead a woman, Raina, talking to another man about her reiki practice. Intrigued, I asked her about it, and we got to talking about our mutual interest. One thing led to another, and all of a sudden we discovered many things we had in common. We both had a passion for running that was taken from us. We were from the Southern New Hampshire area and had family outside of Boston. We both had head injuries with a two-year-or-so recovery. Raina’s story was particularly powerful for me. When I asked her about her injury, she said a car hit her while she was running. The recovery was so painful that she remembers a time when she was holding food in her hands, and she could not remember how to make it. As she told me other aspects of her healing, I got goose bumps. She explained to me how she was able to heal herself with reiki, and she inspired me to heal myself rather than look outside myself to others to heal me.
Stuart, the owner and head of house at Honolulu Farms has a passion for the earth that is infectious. I equate his love for all things green with my love for the health of the human being. In this way, we have worked well together during these last few weeks—he teaches me about the earth, and I feed him nutritious food. Through my observation, I have found that Stuart has a strong intuition when it comes to plants. For example, today we went out to harvest strawberry guavas—a delicious mix between, you guessed it, a strawberry and a guava—which we will be using the fruits in the house kombucha. Stuart told myself and another volunteer that the trees these plants grow on make great wood for tools and harvest plentifully around this time of year. The fruits need to be brought in immediately and juiced, frozen, or consumed or else they will spoil. I asked him how he knew this, and he simply stated something along the lines of: “I don’t know. I just know.” Learning about our earth from Stuart has helped me foster the growth of my own knowledge about what goes into our bodies.
Other things I have learned from my housemates and coworkers on the farm:
- It’s amazing what the body can do when we release fear. I am now running at nearly race-speed.
- The mind is a wonderful servant, but a lousy master. Learn to use your mind to your advantage.
- Eat kabocha squash and apple bananas. The native produce of Hawaiian fills me up physically and emotionally.
- Eat local. Yesterday, a coworker and I shared a meal with kabocha squash that he saw go from seed to plant to plate.
- We do not need to have all the answers, and sometimes, we have to ask for the question.
- A positive disposition is attractive.
- Be willing to try new things. Since I have been here, I have enjoyed the coconut water straight from a coconut I helped harvest, I have hiked a sharp incline, I went sailing, and I plan on surfing.
- When you are having a conversation, be there. During this trip I have done a fair job of leaving my cell phone away and focusing on being present. When I do have it out, I notice a difference. I tune away from the person I am with. I forget to look at the sunset. Ultimately, I’ve learned to take time to tune out and tune in.
- Be open to everything and everyone. Others may have different opinions based on their experiences. No two people have had the same experience. So how can we possibly expect everyone to see the world the way we do?
Oh, the sunset. Oh, the scenery.
The magic of the sunset has mesmerized me for years, and I know I am not alone. The colors, the sharp change in temperature, and the notion of each moment as blissfully temporary. Hawaii has provided me with greater wonder.
A vital reminder:
My first real coconut:
Fireworks after my first time sailing:
Hike up to Manoa Falls:
Diamond Head Beach: