My wife and I are in Hawaii for the holidays, visiting our daughter and celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary. We are on the Garden Island, Kauai. On the sunny mornings, I sit on a bench overlooking legendary Hanalei Bay and gaze at the landmark dinosaur silhouette that inspired Peter Paul and Mary to write Puff the Magic Dragon. The big waves roll in, and I watch the surfers loll until they spring into action: crouch, leap, and twist in an incredible aerial ballet. At sunset, I sit with the old-timers on Black Pot Beach “talking story” and watch this closing stage setting in Bali Hai.
I love Kauai. There is a mellow spirit here that attracts young and old, from international movie stars, literati, and the wealthy, to the surf-bums, new-agers and old hippies. Lots of Native people here too. The island of Ni’ihau, just off the southern coast, is the ceremonial capitol for Native Hawaiians, the “Kanaka Maoli.” Their culture thrives — the language, dances, chants, celestial navigational skills, and traditional healing ceremonies are still taught.
Kauai is a place where I give up control, make no plans, lay back and watch things unfold. In part, it’s the spirit of this place, but, in no small measure, it’s also because my daughter lives here. She is an extraordinary yoga teacher, world traveler, and adventurer who takes over. She has arranged for massages, saunas, yoga, swimming, snorkeling, exploring, and day and night partying.
Letting go of control has never been easy for me — to trust that, without my fine hand stirring the pot, the outcome will be satisfactory. And even though I know how ridiculous this relentless pursuit of control is, when push comes to shove, I still prefer having things in my own hands.
It becomes clearer with the passage of time, that even those things I thought I was in control of, I ’m not. You’d think that an intelligent person who tends toward reflection, would’ve gotten this message long ago, but alas this been my repetitive life lesson.
We all have our own issues. As the firstborn son of Holocaust survivors, my early teachings included don’t depend on anybody other than yourself, and you make it happen.
This is my Kauai New Years resolution: let go of what I never had control of anyway, ask for help when I need it, and bask more in this Kauai spirit where I take off my old masks and breathe easier.
Happy New Year, Relatives. May you be blessed with peace and awakenings on your healing journeys.