In life, for us to truly embrace the “joie de vibre” or the “joy of life” we need to have great loves and one of my great loves is an annual trip to Hawaii.
Some people love to chill in a Balinese shack, others to ski in Japan or Aspen and then there are the campers who are happy on the Gold Coast but I have never felt such affinity to a place as I do to Hawaii. I am not sure whether it is the crystal clear water of the pristine island paradise, the unbelievably friendly locals, the truly spectacular scenery or the overall serenity that has me hooked but there is nothing in my life I look forward to more than spending a number of weeks there each year. It is as if all the toil, stress and intensity of a jam packed career are worth it, if just for a few work free weeks amidst this tropical oasis.
If you have not visited Hawaii before, a quick glance of a picture taken of the well snapped shoreline will immediately take you back to a scene from the 1970’s - unsightly steel and concrete buildings shooting out of the ground next to an overpopulated beachfront as seen in any popular holiday destination around the world. A closer look though reveals a truly spectacular natural landscape enveloping this space - mystical volcanic parks, perfectly clear aqua coloured water and the balmy steam of the tropics against a shadowy backdrop which has remained virtually untouched for hundreds of years.
My first trip to Hawaii was far from an ideal initial encounter, riddled with the reality of a rapidly crumbling friendship. The second was too markedly damaged as I dealt with the acute pain of a badly broken heart but the soulful landscape has repeatedly acted as a natural therapist, the island’s breathtaking beauty rendering the intricacies of an ego driven world irrelevant within such an intense display of nature, ultimately helping to ground, calm, soothe.
So much visual stimulus can only be described as a feast for the senses with pink and orange skies slowly disappearing at the end of each glorious day, the elegant palms swaying in the breeze, lush greenery and blooming tropical flowers alongside charcoal mountains. At night the light disappears behind the volcanic hills, leaving only a sapphire sky and full moon blasting light across the calm shoreline; a scene from an expensive Hollywood movie set which is now your reality for as long as you are able to stay in this island paradise, removed, protected, alive. Such visual intensity quickly puts our modern life attachments into perspective, reminding us that we are merely a small spot in a vast universe forever vulnerable to the true force of nature.
Hawaii has something for everyone – there are volcanoes to climb, crystal clear waters to explore, flame lit streets to wander late into the evening, fine white sand to squelch through your toes and the shopping; shopping some would argue is the best in the world. So you can relax, consume, explore or reflect to your heart’s content. Hawaii has no expectations; it is there to nourish you no matter what your appetite.
Perhaps the thing I love more than anything, and actually miss when home is the eclectic mix of people – the sun kissed island natives, hardworking migrants and the whites who have escaped to the island wonder to live and work. Their lives are blessed and they know it, able to share their carefree spirit and hospitality with those visitors who are momentarily touched by the island spirit every time they visit.
I have now been to Hawaii on three trips, and there is no sign of my love abating. I can imagine being married here, in a quiet ocean front ceremony with a few close friends and family and bringing my children here for family holidays for many years to come. And most of all, I can imagine writing here, in many, many years from now, when my heart is filled with much more joy, experience and wisdom.
In a life that can be too much – too busy, too exciting, too overwhelming, Hawaii is my refuge, a place to regroup, refocus and reignite my energy, even when things are tough. I have now recruited a group of friends who also share my love for this annual pilgrimage and they too are drawn by this mecca of intense energy and spirit. We are already on the countdown for our return to paradise, and we hope to see you there sometime soon too.