I’ve been at Na Piko on the southeastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii for a month now. A month that feels both like it happened in the blink of an eye and as if it has been an entire lifetime. I feel like I just got here while I feel like I don’t remember ever not being here. Living off the grid, in a cabin nestled among the trees of the jungle’s edge, has an incredible distortion effect on time and my conception of my reality. I am living to a brand new and ancient rhythm in a different world than I have ever inhabited. I love it thoroughly.
I sit with both the sunrise and the sunset almost everyday. I sit in the same spot on my meditation cushion in my cabin for an hour every morning and most evenings. I sit and I fall in love. I fall in love with being fully present for the intricacies of subtle transitions that happen as the world around me shifts from night to day and then day to night. It is a full sensory experience like no other. Just sitting with an open heart and mind; breathing, watching, listening and feeling. Experiencing the magic of the natural world unfolding its rhythms feels like the greatest gift a human being could ask for.
My cabin walls are all half screens, and I sit facing a screen door. So I feel both protected by the structure around me and as if I am sitting among the trees and plants of the jungle. When I first sit down in the mornings it is still dark or maybe lit in the silvery light of the moon. As each moment passes the light shifts ever so gradually and gracefully. It is so hard to see. It is hard to watch for the change. I look for cues to help me feel like I can understand how the light is shifting. I try to notice what I can see, and in how much detail. I have a set of favorite leaves that hang from the tree in front of my cabin. I can’t see then at all at first. Then at some point I realize I can see the clumped shape, but no detail. Then soon I’ll notice I can see each of the leaves, then their green color, and more and more details reveal themselves as the morning light awakes.
As the world is revealing itself visually, there is also an amazing auditory story being told. In the earliest moments I am awake I hear mostly the sound of the tree frogs. They are many and call loudly into the night air. Then slowly as the sunlight eases into our part of the world, the frogs begin to quiet and the birds begin to sing. It was quite possibly one of the sweetest moments of my life when I realized that I am learning the patterns and order of the birdcalls. I can identify by sound 5-6 different calls and am able to listen and hear them as they arise to greet the day. It is a way of knowing and learning I have never experienced. No trying, no effort, just stillness and presence and slowly I am coming to know so much more of the world in ways I never imagined.
The depth of this lesson in this is not lost on me. In fact, it could be one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in a while. This past year has been full of so much effort. It has taken tremendous effort to shift my body from paralysis to being able to walk 9 miles to a volcano in only a year. And while my efforts have served me well, so too is there learning and progress to be had by slowing down, diving in deeply to presence and awareness. To be an observer of nature and reality so I can absorb the wisdom both passively and passionately, it is a new way of being and I’m excited to practice it more during my time on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Lizandra Vidal is a poet, writer, and wellness expert. In 2015 she suffered a spinal cord injury and this blog is a space where she shares the story of her experience.