THINGS THAT HAPPENED: After 15 years in newspaper publishing, a befuddled entertainment journalist (yours truly) gets canned when his California publication is gobbled up by a competitor in 2014. He follows through with a “sign from above” to finish a book about his Polish family surviving Stalin in the 1940s, leaves the traditional 9-5 world behind and takes one leap of faith after another in an attempt to understand the deeper significance of epigenetics, home and place—mostly his own in the world—and the best way to serve henceforth. But can this slick Hollywood-type reporter fully let go of the glitter and gloss of celebrity culture, go within and find deeper meaning in life—without falling deeper into an emotional abyss?
(That actually sounds like a nice B-movie. Something to ponder.)
Where were we?
Today. Here. Now. This moment. As in … being in it.
I am close to confirming that my 15th Anniversary Tour of the mid-life crisis I purposely launched at 30—just to get it out of the way—is reaching its climactic conclusion and may end. (I had no idea it would last more than a decade. Okay, fine—it was more than 15 years ago when I launched it. But like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, it never seems to want to end.)
This morning, seven cocks crowed randomly near the sugar cane fields in Lower Kula, on Maui, as I sat on the chestnut-colored sofa in the Up Country home in which I had been deposited by The Universe. I will be here for three months, engaging in a few writing projects, overseeing the land, and—let’s hope!—renew and reawaken in a new way, personally, psychologically, spiritually.
Well, I listened to all of those crowing cocks with great interest, marveling at Mother Nature’s handiwork; the seamless precision SHE gifted these creatures to instinctively do what they do so well at the time that they do it. Every day.
Yesterday, when I was visiting the nearby town of Makawao, I realized that the loose chickens there—and all around the island, actually—give new meaning to the term Free Range. They wander around in the middle of the road, in parking lots, in fields, and almost all of them seem to be offering their deep devotion to their male suitors, whose early-morning vocal prowess never waivers. It was there, in this historic Maui locale, that I realized the true answer to age-old question: Why did the chicken cross the road?
It was never “to get to the other side.”
It was to get to her cock.
Such devotion. Such love. I made a mental note of it, musing on author Michael Drury’s proclamation that “if there’s a secret to be loved, it lies in not having to have it.”
The cock. The chicken.
Dear Lord—for once, doing the math is easy.
Back to today and an early-morning meditation … something I am embarking on daily because, well, when Maui calls you to come to Her from out of the blue, it’s a gift and I sense there’s a reason why I am here, other than why I think I am here, which is, partly, to oversee a home and its property while the owners are away on a business adventure on the Mainland.
Later, when I met with my colleagues/the homeowners on the upper deck, they pointed out the small olive plantation—can a “plantation” actually be small?—that I will oversee during their absence.
How did I arrive here?
I thought I was going to continue venturing forth with reckless abandon as an entertainment journalist. I thought I was going to continue doing celebrity interviews. I thought I would—gosh, I don’t know, replace Mario Lopez on that entertainment news program? Well, Stalin changed all of that. The book about my Polish family changed all of that. Losing the editorship of a longtime job in a vibrant Northern California community changed all that.
And, frankly, I am grateful.
Apparently, there is something else I am to be doing—for now. And if means daily dosing myself on the Tao, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Caroline Myss, or chanting in some Temple of Peace or Sacred Gardenon Maui—fine. I am going to do it! I asked for a sign on what to do with my life. This popped up . I am shutting up and showing up for the (spiritual) work at hand. Nine to Five? Please—it’s just a movie and Dolly Parton song to me now. (I think. I hope … Right?)
This morning I learned that it takes an olive tree about five to seven years to come into its own. And then … it—how do I put this?—never really goes away. Mother Nature. Again—SHE knows what she is doing. I also discovered from the owners here in Kula that there are 5,000-year-old olive trees in Italy and Greece and elsewhere, and that the olive tree—olives—are part of a fascinating social and cultural fabric. Yes. Of course. I must have learned this somewhere but it must have gotten buried somewhere in the nether regions of mind after 15 years of Trying To Get Ahead And Make A Name For Myself.
The indigenous olive tree (the wild olive tree) first made an appearance in the eastern Mediterranean, however Greece first cultivated them. Flashback—way back—to 50,000 years ago and there were, of course, olives, olive oil. All of it.
So … next week, I begin my daily sojourn out into the olive field to see if the year-old plants are doing well; if the irrigation is, well, irrigating all of them correctly.
Perhaps there’s a deeper lesson to be learned. Although I doubt it has anything the Master Teacher Jesus praying on The Mount of Olives, although I could be wrong. Back in the 1990s, I had a dream that J came up to me at the coffeebar where I was a barista. I saw him standing there. (Yes, he was wearing a white robe). I smiled and said: “Can I help you?” He gently tapped the counter a few times and said: “I would like some service.”
(I certainly hope all my navel-gazing, publishing, lighting white sage and spotlighting Agents of Change worked in my favor.)
Anyway the point is this: Can I now benefit from slowing down on a daily basis by walking atop rich fertile soil? With my feet planted firmly on the ground—this Maui ground—is there a chance I can become more attune with the deeper significance of the meaning of “home” and something other than just Making A Living? Sure—that’s important. But here I am. I am perched on top of a baby olive field, for goodness sake. I am not sitting in a cubicle.
When in Rome … right?
Or, in this case, when amongst baby olive trees.