Week Five of my I Have No Idea How I Landed On Maui Experience began with an introduction to the Upcountry Farmers’ Market in Kula. I spent two hours there and feared somebody would have to use a crowbar and pull me off of that vibrant place.
Farmers’ Markets are wonderful outings, after all. Organic food. Opportunities to meet local farmers. And dogs. Many dogs. When I ran into Bodhi’s sister, I considered it quite serendipitous. Bodhi, for those who have been keeping apprised of my journey here, is the 160-pound-plus Saint Bernard/Rottweiller mix who is the spiritual mascot at Eve Eschner Hogan‘s soul-stirring labyrinth portal The Sacred Garden. If I recall correctly, Bodhi’s sis is named Sierra and she and his owner live nearby. Sierra happens to have some dreadlocks, which I found to be a nice island touch. An Asian man/farmer Sierra knows fed her 17 doggie treats. Sierra was stoked.
Oh, there were other notables at the marker: shirtless surfers (thank you for working out!), fresh-pressed live juice concoctions, and more fruits and veggies than one could possibly imagine. I also met two young men at a small farm stand. One of them, a lanky lad no more than 21, told me he was studying shamanism … to which I asked: “So, what is the most interesting thing you are learning along your Shamanic journey?”
The young man smiled and said: “It’s not so much about learning right now as it is about unlearning what came before this.”
I nearly fell to my knees. Oh, Young Shaman, yes you are!
I kept on, absorbing the vibrant mood and the thoroughly happy people. My eyes shot back to the coffee truck outside of the parking lot and I wondered two things: What would it take to run a java truck like that and with every espresso drink I’d serve, I would have people pull an Angel card—or something? Clearly, this indicated to me that I was not thoroughly invested in searching for a new media job back on the Mainland. And clearly, I had not yet fully recovered from giving birth to Grace Revealed earlier this year. I was in a kind of incubative mid-life reboot of some sort, the depths of which I did not understand—and maybe, I wasn’t supposed to.
Hmmm. What happens when your NON-CAREER becomes your “career?” What happens when you finally leave the corner office, the cubicle, the “push,” the drive to “GET THERE”—whatever—and decide to chuck the illusion of security that come in the form of 401k’s and their ilk, and are asked, very blatantly to simply TRUST the Universe and begin interacting more with the world, people, and canines named Bodhi and Sierra?
What happens when you realize you may not have any more answers to all of the “old” questions you have spent a lifetime asking?
Well, here was my other thought: Greg, how much do you think it will cost to ship your car to Maui?
I would have allowed that thought to wander the labyrinth of my mind a bit longer, but then I came upon a freshly-baked bread booth. The husband-and-wife couple behind the table, Sybil and Nader, had painted mustaches on their faces. Charming. Of course, I stopped and we began a discussion. I turned to Sybil—so beautiful and happy—and asked: “So, what brought you to Maui?” She placed her hands in prayer and placed them directly over her heart: “Spirit,” was her reply.
Jesus. Somebody get me a tissue!
When I asked Nader how he met Sybil, he told me it was not that long ago … and that after three days, he got down on one knee and asked Sybil to marry him. I turned back to Sybil. She was grinning ear to ear. “When you know … you just know,” she mused.
Seriously, where was that tissue?
Well, needless to say, husband and wife began baking bread—all organic, gluten-free if I recall correctly and with hints of rosemary, thyme or cranberry. “We put love in all our bread,” Nader told me, and who was I to argue. It was evident. I immediately purchased a loaf—this couple does for freshly-baked loaves of bread what author Laura Esquivel did for chocolate.
Love rises to the surface …
I left the market feeling the bliss rising, too.
Flashforward several days later …
After my morning meditation, I walked down toward the lower level of the property I am overseeing. It was time for my morning olive grove run. I had to see how the olive trees were doing. But then I remembered how windy it gets in Kula in the afternoons and I wanted to turn on the sprinklers by the pool. Watering down the unlandscaped grounds prevents dirt from drifting into the pool. As I bent down to turn the irrigation switch, I noticed that there was a dead bird lying on the ground nearby. It wasn’t quite a bluebird. Perhaps a Myna bird.
I took one look at the poor creature and frowned. “Oh no! Buddy, what happened to you?”
Was it the wind, I thought. It’s been quite powerful lately.
I was torn. What to do? I’ll leave the bird there … for an animal or something, I thought. Mother Nature knows what she is doing and if the bird is still there in a day, I’ll do something with it.
But as I walked away, I felt that little Myna bird pulling me back. I spun around right there in the red-lava(esque) dirt and when I did I spotted a small shovel nearby. Much of the grounds on the lower level of the property I am on is still in the process of being created and there are a few tools here and there.
I shot the bird a look. My eyes fell upon the shovel.
“Okay, let’s do this!”
To the best of my ability, I scooped up the Myna with the shovel but then it turned upside and just lie there atop of it—beak up.
“Oh for God’s sake!”
Chuckling through my frown, I told the bird that we were going to give it a proper burial. And as I walked over to a giant tree off to the side, I looked up to the heavens.
“Maui, you have lost one of your own … so now, we shall give this creature a proper send-off.”
Not sure if Maui heard me, but what the hell. It seemed fitting.
There was plenty of shade underneath this tree and I set the Myna down and thought for a moment.
“We need music, don’t we?”
I place my iPhone on a rock and pressed the first playlist on it. A moment later, ABBA’s “Fernando,” began playing.
(What can I say: You can take the gay, cultured career-driven, mood-swinging male out of the Mainland but you simply cannot take ABBA out of him—ever!)
“Can you hear the drums Fernando,” ABBA crooned.
I looked down at the Myna. “Well, Fernando, can you?”
Using the shovel, I dug the shallow grave. I placed “Fernando” inside. And then, bit by bit, I covered Fernando. “Go back to Maui, baby.”
Afterward I stood there. Something didn’t feel quite right. Fernando required a marker for his grave. I looked around me. I found a large branch, shaped like a wishbone. How positively fitting. I rested it against the tree behind Fernando’s grave and searched for two small sticks. Fernando needed a cross.
Meanwhile, ABBA sang: There was something in the air that night … The stars were bright … Fernando … They were shining there for you and me … for liberty, Fernando.
“Hear that, Fernando?” I shot back. “For liberty. This is all good, buddy.”
Well, my attempts to make a cross failed miserably. What can I say? I was never a good Boy Scout and I could hardly tie two pieces of wood together now to make a proper cross, even with using the sturdy grass strands nearby.
“Maybe it’s for the best, Fernando,” I sighed. “Besides, look at what the world has done with crosses. You know what you need? A smaller wishbone branch to rest right there in front of you.”
And then … from the nether regions of mind I heard this: Good God, Greg. You’re talking to a dead bird! What the hell are you doing? A funeral service for fowl? Is this why you pressed pause on everything? Is it? To listen to ABBA near a deceased Myna? I hardly recognize you!
I thanked my EGO for sharing and went back to the task at hand. (Oh EGO, sometimes, it just needs to be heard, but like any good partner, sometimes, you just have to let it talk. None of us are required to abide by our EGO’s commands—or our loved one’s for that matter. And should your “loved one” command anything, maybe it’s time to put things into perspective. But let’s save that story for another time …)
I shoved the wishbone branch deeply into Maui’s fertile ground, stood up and took a step back. It looked like that proverbial fork in the road.
“Metaphoric, don’t you think, Fernando?”
ABBA crooned on.
Well, I couldn’t leave it like this. Wasn’t there something more I could do? And then I recalled my experience the day prior. I had found a small Stupa in the town of Paia. The Buddhist’s idea is to walk around in a circle in the stupa in prayer. Every time you make one full round, a bell rings. Basically, you send out good juju with your walk around the Stupa.
My gaze lifted up to the tree. Wonderful. I’ll walk around the tree, like a Stupa, and in prayer, just as I did in the Stupa on Tuesday. But first, I acknowledged Fernando for the life he flew, the breezes he felt under his wings, for … well, you know—his bird life.
And, somewhere around the part ABBA began singing, If I had to do the same again, I would, my friend, Fernando … I began my circular pilgrimage around the tree. Round and round I went …
… for the bird …