It has been a week since I took the hands of Divine Intervention and fled to Maui. Well, I am not sure I fled. Not really. I think I was drop-kicked here.
I have this funny feeling there is a very good reason why The Universe plucked me out of “society” and placed me on—what the heck?—an island!?
Never under-estimate the winds of fate—their gale force winds will blow you where you need to go if you allow them to.
The truth is I could have slipped back into “the rat race” after the release of my book, “Grace Revealed,” back in February. I could have found myself working for another media corporation and doing all that which one does when one does THAT. But was I destined to return to media and publishing at a time when it seemed ever more fascinated with listening to its own opinions and spreading thick layers of celebrity frosting over the media easy-bake oven cake, which still passes as journalism?
I had done that, in fact, for many years. Celebrity reporting. Hey—it was good. Still, I made sure I probed deep, got to know the people I was interviewing. I did my best to go beneath the surface. I tried to do something different.
Things changed. Something changed. Maybe I changed.
All I know is this: I wrote about my Polish family—homeless Polish people during the 1940s under Stalin’s terror—and that returning to reality has, well, befuddled me. Everything I once knew—my job, my community, my interests—were suddenly nowhere to be found. I had been laid off before the book was published. I had moved away from the community in which I had lived for many years. And all of those things that had once given me such a “high” energetically—poof! Gone. It felt as if something deep inside of me had snapped in two—a necessary connective wire, perhaps—and that the ME that I knew to be ME no longer felt like ME.
All of the luscious stuff—excitement, interest, fascination, desire—had been wiped clean from my emotional hard drive. Was I in the throes of a mid-life crisis? Was I going through post-partum from writing the book? Was I experiencing a kind of intergenerational echo effect PTSD genetic thing handed down from my Polish ancestors?
God if I knew.
Which is why, in the depths of mental and emotional exhaustion, bouts of depression, mood swings. binges on chocolate and a great deal of uncertainty, I decided to do something that defied reason: Do something that would bring more uncertainty—move to Maui.
Accepting an offer to overlook a colleague’s home in Kula and make certain that their baby olive orchard thrived in their nearly three-month absence sounded good to me—and let’s face it, it sounded so orchestrated by The Gods (I mean, really, where were the choir of Angels?)
(Trust me: I know how that sounds. But now I wonder: why is it that a gaggle of us need “signs” and a choir of heavenly creatures to convince us that we’re on the right path? When did I/we become so codependent with The Universe?)
Oh, let’s talk about that later.
During the past week, while the Maui land owners showed me around before they were to depart, my new adventures began. I learned how to drive something called a Polaris. It’s not quite a Jeep and too big to be considered a Hot Rod Buggy, however it comes with compartments for things like tools. Yes, tools—wrenches and glue and ties and sticks and things like that. I think there is a hammer in there, too.
A hammer, for chrissakes! What the hell am I supposed to do with that?
This would be a tool I would be “possibly” required to use. Upon hearing this, I dropped many decades internally and suddenly felt seven years old looking for my Unavailable Daddy all over again. “Papa, can you teach me …?”
Well … the next thing I heard was: “Greg. Snap out of it. It’s just a hammer and this is just a vehicle with four wheels and an on and off switch. It’s not a tank and you’re not fighting the Russians.”
(Never under-estimate inter-generational PTSD. Just saying.)
Of course, this whole Polaris thing was one of my first indications that I was no longer in the Big City and far, far, far—like, really really far—away from The Red Carpet and a microphone. I didn’t even bring a tie to Maui.
Not. One. Tie.
Who the hell had I become?
Worse—I couldn’t remember the last time I put hair gel in my hair.
Whatever. The point is this: I learned how to drive this thing called a Polaris, which sounds like a good name for a Sci-Fi movie starring George Clooney. The first outing in the Polaris, one of the owners was with me in the vehicle. I was instructed to drive down a rich, dark copper dirt slope and into the olive grove. How butch. A slope!
From there the task was relatively simple and, actually, Zen—to observe. Observe.
It’s a verb. It means … “to notice or perceive (something) …”
We were to notice “how the olive trees were doing.” 1) these young babies needed to be attached to their stakes. 2) One had to keep a watchful eye on whether deer from the mountains—from the nether regions of that Haleakala crater, in fact—had used their horns to rub off some of the young bark. 3) be mindful of the irrigation tubes. 4) Change the position of the nighttime portable lamps so that they will fend off animals, mostly deer.
I could do this. In fact, I was asked to do it alone and I did. And so here’s where all those years of yoga may have benefited me. For so many many many many years, my primary focus was to “get ahead” in the world; to make lots of cash; to become somebody, to “arrive” somewhere and then it would all be Just Fine. But during the last 15 years, had I arrived?
The funny thing about that mindset—REALLY WANTING TO GET THERE from HERE—is that is knows nothing else other than REALLY WANTING TO GET THERE. There is no NOW in REALLY WANTING TO GET THERE. Not really. There is just REALLY WANTING TO GET THERE.
And so, as I was driving this funky, door-free thing called a Polaris, getting my BUTCH on, I noticed, at first, how quickly my foot stepped on its gas pedal. What the hell—was I racing a car at Laguna Seca in Central California? My REALLY WANTING TO GET THERE habit was about to take over but by some stroke of luck, or observation, or something else, I lifted my foot off that pedal, just a little bit, and slowed down. I forced myself to be in the moment and do the task at hand: Observe. Observe the baby olive trees!
Imagine how freaked out that ego/over-active mind became when that happened.
What do you mean we’re slowing down? What do you mean we’re going to… um, observe? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
All of it made me wonder about something: By accepting the offer to be in Maui; be saying “yes” when Maui called, and by saying “yes” to promise to be a good steward to this luscious land and these young trees, had I, in fact, painted myself into a kind of spiritual corner where there was nothing but mirrors for me to look—at myself? Without any distractions?
I remember writing in “Grace Revealed” … that “there is nothing worse than Hanging On when you know full well you’re supposed to be Letting Go. It wastes precious time and besides, your fingernails become unbelievably soiled from all the time spent clawing at the dirt of the cliff of which you are strongly being urged to let go.”
Familiarity can be a nice thing. However, there comes a time in life when all the “signs” keep insisting that you keep “letting go,” experience something new and be of service in a new way. We can either surrender or resist until we’re driven mad by the stubborn will to remain exactly the same. It must be in the former where transformation can occur.
I am counting on it.