It was here, on Hurricane Ridge in Washington, that I realized I realized how much I needed the mountains. They hold a serene and peaceful calm that engulfs me, strengthening and nourishing my soul. It is there, looking at the stretching landscape, that I can close my eyes and breath a deep sigh of relief, letting all the stress of life float away and giving me the opportunity to recharge my spirit. It is here that I hear the echoes of nature calling out to the world. It urges me to embrace my uniqueness and experience life because, as they say, we only live once.
The Ko’olau Mountains of Hawaii are very different from Washington, but are equally as majestic. I was very fortunate to have been raised in Hawaii. Living on a beautiful tropical island was an altogether different experience that offered a mix of a ‘no worries’ attitude that contrasted greatly with their strong passion for heritage and ohana, the family that gave me the foundation I stand on today. The pride of the Ko’olau mountains echoes in the ancestors that walk the islands today.
As a child I would hike the mountain ridge behind my home with friends after the rain. It rained every day on the windward or eastern side of the island and would create this beautiful water falls down the mountains.After an hour or so, we would hike the mountain ridge and slide down the mud slides where the waterfall had traveled. They always led to the same stream that ran behind my house, so we never came home dirty. We were washed clean by the time we drifted home! After speaking of this with several friends as an adult, I realize how different my childhood was and wonder if that is why being in the mountains, being in nature, is the reason that is where I need to be to feel free.
There is a breathtaking beauty to the place I still call home, but just as I love each person differently, so too is the feeling of peace and tranquility with the Earth wherever I leave a part of myself. A rolling cascade of snow capped ridges that stretch across the horizon, the wildflowers that grow along the rolling landscape, the thick, lush forest of trees that reach to the stars and live longer than any other organism on this planet… All these characteristics, as in humans, hold a special tranquility that allows me to reflect on life and the vitality of my spirit.
Today I live far from the mountains and far from the tiny tropical island I still call home. In the end, family led me to where I planted my roots, but my heart is one of a traveler and something in my soul calls me to trek these mountains, to stand tall with my ‘no worries’ attitude, and call to the winds, if not only for a single moment in time. The beauty lies in the fact that the mountains seem to listen, releasing me from the weight of the world I carry on my shoulders, allowing me to recharge my spirit and strengthen my resolve so I can continue to change the world for the better. And if I cannot accomplish this, at least I can say I am changing myself for the better.