The Captain

Don’t forget the dream you had about you and your mom on a very large cruise ship, dark grey, sleek and shiny with glass on all sides. And the incredibly almost inconceivably high waves barreling towards you in the middle of the ocean. How the boat tilted all the way to the port side and you could see an entire ocean of sea life below the water as it dipped under. Then it flew back up and tilted starboard. At first you thought you were the only two people on the massive boat. You held your mother’s hands, silently nodding to each other, trusting what you knew she already knew: that it would right itself, which it did. Just then you understood there was a captain in the wheelhouse, you could feel the boat turning from his direction. The captain steered you directly into the monstrous waves and made the bow of that enormous cruise liner duck dive down below them like a surfer. You were in an observation deck surrounded by glass, staying dry as the waves crashed over. Never unsteady, the tossing and turning absorbed by the strength of your stance, all you could do was grasp your mother’s hands and take in the ride. Despite your fear you noticed the beautiful clarity of everything underwater. Even though you couldn’t see him, you trusted completely that the captain was steering and you were OK. It wasn’t even trust anymore, it was simple knowing. You felt his presence, pictured him perfectly even though you had never seen or met him. Then he parked it at a dock on a river and you got out and you were in Italy.

In Dreams, part deux

Bradley Cooper was falling in love with me, everyone could tell. Especially my mother standing across the room gossiping about it in real time with Billy Bob Thornton. They were leaning against the wall looking over at us on the couch, the same one I had seen earlier that day at Costco.

Or maybe they were swimming. In fact, yes, I believe Billy Bob and my mom were swimming and sort of leaning against the side of the pool, which was also the side of the room. She had no idea who she was talking to and it didn’t matter.

We were in the back parlor of an Old Victorian house where my dentist had his office. My mother had taken me there to sort out the business of my broken tooth – the injury sustained when someone accidentally kicked me in the mouth at my first attempt at kickboxing an hour or so before.

We waited a long time in that room, me kind of sprawled on the couch in pain, my mother quietly treading water. It was long enough for Bradley Cooper to come in, walk straight over to me and immediately profess his love. And how could he not? My face was bruised and purple, my lips swollen from the impact, blood swirling inside my mouth. And then there was the matter of the tooth.

The broken tooth extracted from the left side of my mouth was dreamlike in length – easily three feet long with a severe arc and ending in a hook with long bristled roots. For a minute I was sitting there on the couch next to Bradley holding it, staring wondrously at its size. The next, the room was empty but for me waiting alone for the angry nurse to return. I don’t recall how or why she was mean, I just felt it. I did not like her.

While I was waiting for her return another tooth, this one on the right side, came loose. It wasn’t painful and I moved it back and forth with my tongue for a while. Then I reached in with my fingers and jiggled it out. Nothing special there, just a normal sized unbroken tooth.

I woke up happy, very excited for the day to begin.

Get Out Of Your Own Way, Women

The other day I was sitting in the tiki hut in my front yard reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert again. Her follow up to Eat, Pray, Love is a fascinating history on marriage and what it has meant for women over the course of time. But of course, because she’s a fantastic writer, it is also much more. Ms. Gilbert dives in from numerous angles as she attempts to justify her upcoming forced nuptials to the love of her life. The two of them claiming to love each other too much to ever consider marriage find themselves facing deportation if they don’t make their union legal.

It’s undoubtedly a love story and not exactly anti-marriage. (And to be clear, neither am I.) However in summary, she makes a strong argument for why women should pretty much never ever succumb to the institution, or at the very least they should wait until they obtain complete autonomy and pass thirty.

It is my go-to comfort book for reassurance and acknowledgement that I am doing JUST FINE with my current life choice of singlehood on the most remote landmass on the planet.

While I was out there in the hut, the kids I live with were playing around me as they often do and the four year old threw himself onto the cushion next to me. I love how kids have no physical boundaries and think nothing of leaning in on you and climbing over you as if you’re simply an extension of the furniture. He took a look at the author picture on the back of the book and asked if it was me.

I was so instantly pleased to be compared in anyway to someone I admire so greatly, even if only from a four year old who kinda thinks I look like her. And to think someone (anyone!) in this world would think my face belongs on the back of a published book, what joy!

Ha ha. Anyway, this is all just to introduce one of Liz’s latest essays, which I consider to be an important read. I would highly recommend everyone read Committed, but if you’re not in the mood for an entire book, please at the very least check out this nugget of golden bliss:

ElizabethGilbert.com

Back to the Buddha

Sunday afternoon the idea came to me to go to the Byodo-In Buddhist Temple in Kaneohe on the windward side. It was a spectacular day, sunny but not too hot. I rang the enormous Bon-sho bell, lit incense at the base of the golden Amida Buddha statue towering 9′ high and apologized for getting stuck in my head, for swirling downwards into useless self pity.

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After walking the grounds I sat down on a bench under a little tree, crossed my legs, leaned back against the trunk and read through my copy of the Tao Te Ching.

It wasn’t really my intention to meditate but it just sort of happened that way. An hour later as I closed the book, my eyes closed with it and I sat perfectly still for quite a few minutes. It felt so good. So good to have my mouth shut, so good to not be complaining or worrying, so good to be at peace with exactly the way things are. Grateful even.

There really is nothing quite like just breathing.

Life ebbs and flows and it’s never going to stop doing that. For a while we do really well and then we slip a bit as the undertow pulls us out to sea. Friends and family show up at the water’s edge to help us back to shore. We remember to remember. We get to say we’re sorry.

I’ll slip again but for now I can be thankful that even though it still takes me longer than I’d like to recognize the fact that my thoughts are moving in a negative direction, at least I have the tools to get myself on track pretty quickly.

Here’s to inching back towards clarity and contentment. Here’s to remembering to breathe.

So now I have my first tiny goal for the year: travel to the Byodo-In Temple at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains, sit on the bench under the little tree and read through the Tao Te Ching six times before the end of January.

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Yes. Please. And thank you.

In Dreams

My first mistake was leaving the hotel to go take a shower in the subway. There was simply no chance of getting back on track after such an absurd decision.

It was cold, morning time somewhere in New York City. Even though I knew these were the streets of Manhattan I also knew I was in Brooklyn, but such are the oddities of our subconscious.

I came up out of the subway into the crisp fall air with wet hair and a confused feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was early and I was immediately lost even though I knew exactly where I was. I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the hotel. My parents were there and I was desperate to return, certain it was only a few blocks away.

So I wandered this way and that, not knowing what else to do. I entered and exited building after building, getting turned around and lost in various stairwells. Nothing was straightforward and the panic started rising. Lots of different buildings, lots of different stairwells. There were impossible circles like I was in a life-size M.C. Escher painting – everything cramped and dimly lit. An intense knowing that I was so close and yet helpless to get back, hovering over me like a fog.

I was completely lost in a place I knew very well and no matter what I did I kept making wrong turns. I couldn’t get back to the hotel because I couldn’t remember how to get there. I tried to use the GPS on my phone but didn’t know what address or name to put in.

There were lots of people – in rooms, in stores, on the street – but no one could help me because I refused to look lost to any of them. This went on for many hours, from sunrise to well past nightfall.

Finally I came upon a big room that opened up to a loading dock. There were children playing. A large motorized gate was open but starting to close. I ran to squeeze under it. And then I was outside at the end of a cul de sac very far away from the buzz of downtown. It was nighttime, dark, freezing cold. There was snow on the ground and the silence that comes with it.

A taxi a few hundred feet away had just dropped someone off and was making a circle to turn around. I flagged the cabbie down and ran over to jump in. In the backseat all of a sudden I was warm, all faith surrendered to the driver, the car turning back towards the city.

It was pitch-black midnight in my head when I awoke to a Thursday morning I wanted nothing to do with. Groggy and agitated, fixated on where that taxi was heading, I proceeded about my day as best I could, piecing together the clues of a dream that shook me more than any other.

Donuts and a Field of Grass

I needed to go to bed early last night so at 6:30 PM I popped a couple melatonin, unwrapped my mala beads setting my intention on kind hearted clarity, and recited the Om Namo Bhagavate 108 times. I placed the beads under my pillow and was blissfully asleep by 7:00 PM.

Three hours later I awoke to my truth when my phone rang and a voicemail was left that sounded exactly as I expected it would but also exactly as I hoped it wouldn’t. It was 13 seconds of yah I’m back in town and I’m sorry I haven’t called for two weeks, I certainly owe you an explanation on that so give me a call and we’ll talk.

There was no sweetness in his apology, no hope of seeing me soon, just the shallowness of another guy who got caught being a jackass and had nothing good to report.

And since I have this new policy against jackasses who can’t be bothered to stay in touch or respect my time and be grateful for my attention… well, I had no choice but to say thanks but I think I’ll pass.

I got up at 4:30 AM not nearly as rested as I should have been but still feeling ready for the task at hand: The Honolulu Century, a 100 mile bike ride starting at Kapiolani Park, heading 50 miles up the windward side of Oahu and back. And I gotta tell you, these rides never disappoint. Every single time I push myself a little farther than I think I can, I gain a clearer more peaceful perspective on life and how I really want it to go for me.

I could have called him back and listened to his bullshit story like I’ve done with way too many douchebags before him, just like I could have given up 70 miles into the ride coming out of Kailua when we got hit with a downpour of monsoon proportions, or 80 miles in at Hawaii Kai when my quads seized and literally stopped working. I could have turned right off of Kalanianaole at East Hind, 91 miles into my journey, and gone home and back to bed instead of crossing the finish line.

But I didn’t do any of those things because these odysseys remind me again and again to never give up on myself. The pay off always comes and for all we know it’ll be as good as free donuts on the far side of the finish line and a big field of grass to sprawl out on as we sink into the bliss of satisfaction and contentment.

These are the things that are truly priceless.

Finding someone who means what he says, someone who actively stays in touch because he wants to be with me, someone who will pursue me and see me fully, someone who will think “Holy shit this girl is a frickin’ catch and I AM NOT GOING TO MESS THIS UP!”… this is what my relationship goal has become and I’m gonna reach that finish line just like I’ve reached all the other ones. It might take what feels like forever but in the end I’ll be so glad I did it.

For now I’m sad. I took a risk reaching out to this person and once again fell flat on my face. But this feeling will pass quickly, rightfully pushed aside by the satisfaction I got from the awesome people I met on the road today and the accomplishment of cutting almost 2 hours off my ride time from my last attempt at 100 miles a few months ago.

Thanks for all the messages of love and support! It means the world to me when you guys cheer me on!