Wednesday, November 1, 2023

1/2 My Brain Flaps, Hawaii Edition

Monarch caterpillar at Monarch Coffee


Simply an unbelievable variety of plant life.

Baby Chewbacca

At the southernmost point of the United States, the water was unbelievably blue. I never got over it. This is cropped but otherwise unmanipulated. WTF?

Lava and coral. 

Steam rising from caldera at Volcano National Park.

We walked across that crater! (Larger caldera with steam rising in the background.)

In the crater, about to walk across.

An Anne outstanding in her (lava) field.

Fresh lava having flowed over older lava. 

Whoops! (Click on the picture to read the story)

"What're you looking at??"

The contrast between lush and barren is shocking.

First World Problems! If I had been much better at being mindful, I'd have had a great trip to Hawaii. But as I wrote about in the "My mind flaps again" chapter of Losing, I'm no Zen master*.

Don't get me wrong. Hawaii is incredibly beautiful and memorable. Shockingly so.

The most amazing experience - watching manta rays literally inches from my face - was truly beyond description. (At one point, the largest ray - 15 feet from tip to tip - appeared in my line of sight coming right at me; I literally screamed. If I hadn't had a full-face mask on, I would have spit out the snorkel.) 

But my time there shows the asymmetry between good and bad - how bad can overwhelm the good (at least in the moment; it has been a week, and the valence of the trip's memories is already becoming better).

The main issue for me was a terrible and very expensive experience with an Airbnb. (Airbnb's customer service at first said we were covered by the AirCover insurance, but then they went back on that.) 

This came after a bad and draining flight over... 

...then a bad and draining experience with a rental car company that rhymes with Nertz. The flight and the car would have been OK, but the Airbnb situation was so stressful that it vastly exceeded my mindful abilities. (Ooops.)

But beyond our specific experiences, the poverty in Hawaii was shocking and truly appalling, especially in combination with the paradise-level beauty. (And many of the tourists were Disney-level awful; we thought being on the Big Island might avoid that but we were wrong.)

Honestly, I wish we had stayed at a nice resort, isolated from the underlying reality of the island. The mind-blowing beauty (more pictures to come, but they don't capture it) would have made it one of the best vacations ever. It would definitely have been cheaper. (Note - we went to Hawaii because we were able to fly there for free; we had scheduled a trip there twice before, and both were canceled by covid.)

And yeah, I know - Cry me a river. 
You're absolutely right.

*I know Zen isn't the meditation tradition I mean - but "Zen master" is such a cool phrase....

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