I know I am not the only one! Not the first time nor the last time I have needed to rethink my life and look at moving in a new direction. There are moments when a person comes to an impasse, something we feel is holding us back, and a new path is calling. It is time to write a new chapter. Age 53 now, I look back 14 years to the beginning of such a moment.
In 2008 I found myself unhappy and ready for change. My research begins with going online and seeking volunteer work. Something different from what I have done in the past. I found a video of a place called Kalani Honua. This video began with a Hawaiian man walking towards a lookout point over the ocean while singing a Hawaiian "oli" or chant. Striking a chord with me, I felt something. A tingle that you feel within your gut. I watched this video dozens of times, and the feeling grew. It soon turned into intuition, and that is where this story begins.
Let's look back a moment to 1983. I was 13 years old. Set out on a family vacation to the Hawaiian islands. The plane landed on Oahu. I remember the sensation of warm humidity on my skin. The fragrance of flowers and the ocean filled my senses. It was like stepping into an entirely different world. Never had I experienced anything like this in my short 13 years. I never knew places like this existed. This place was special. It was December 31st, arriving from the frozen high mountain desert of Salt Lake City, Utah. Stepping into a tropical paradise felt like a warm embrace that left an impression on my young mind.
Fast forward 26 years later. Back in Utah, 39 years old and finding myself at a crossroads. The opportunity to return to Hawai'i presented itself. I applied to be a volunteer at a yoga retreat center on the Big Island. It would be a three-month work-trade program. A program centered around nature and wellness. I knew this would be a place to reflect, reset and take on this decision to figure out a new life path. Little did I know that creating this time and space to go through this process of figuring out how to start over "was" the life-changing decision I thought I was to make while in Hawai'i. Who knew?
I settled into what they called an "A" frame, which was not much more than glorified camping. So I was "glamping" on the Big Island for three months. The first night was overwhelming, the sounds of life all around me. It was like the rainforest, which I find myself in the middle, was brought to life after the sun went down. Trying to settle in and sleep after a day of travel and excitement was almost impossible. Feeling as though I was living in a dream state of mind trying to digest my new reality. The first morning was even more dreamy than the night previous. Instead of the intense sounds of Coqui frogs, I wake to the beautiful melody of birds as they look for a morning meal and the rustle of footsteps all around me as other volunteers get ready for the day. Just like that day stepping off the plane at 13 years old, I step out of my "A" frame and re-live that same sensation from long ago. With the embrace of the island once again. My senses come alive, and so does my spirit.
Full of anticipation, I head to the lanai for breakfast and meet the others who are now part of my journey of discovery. I walk up a path that splits the middle of the property. I hear from behind a person asking me, "are you the new volunteer in the horticulture department." I turn to respond and can't believe it. The person speaking to me is the same Hawaiian man I had watched and listened to dozens of times in the video months before he said. "I am Kimo." (to be continued.)
Don't miss "Part Two" of "Starting Over at age 50, a true-life story" from Life on the Big Rock.