The Red Beach at Hana
I was determined to get the Red Sand Beach at Hana. I don’t really know why but I really really thought I needed to see this. I had the time before I could go back to see Ram Dass that afternoon, so I hopped in the car and started on my way. I did not have really enough time to do this trip but I was going to do it anyway. I didn’t really understand what the whole “Road to Hana” was about - only that it was slow going and windy and sometimes the weather made it difficult to pass. No bother. I needed to get to this beach. I was angry this morning. I was really angry and it was hot. I had a lot of anger that had been percolating from my life not going the way that I wanted it to. And the whole Ram Dass is in the hospital during your retreat thing was part of it. I was annoyed that I was left to figure this out on my own and had to drive around to the hospital and stuff and not really get the kind of retreat in that i wanted to. I think I had a bad night the night before, like, I didn’t sleep very well or something. Anyway, I started off a bit late on this drive to find the infamous Red Sand Beach - everyone was really reticent to give clear directions about how to reach this spot which was also annoying. And on the road to Hana, people are driving with their selfie sticks out the car window and sunroofs and generally driving like insane people, actually stopping completely on one-land bridges to get a picture of a waterfall many yards away. It was insanely beautiful and also a bit scary the drive. I had Maharaji’s picture with me and some cd’s of Ram Dass talking on the Bhagavad Gita and was doing my best to stay present but really just super anxious to make it to the beach and make it back in time to get to the hospital that afternoon. I really wasn’t feeling well at this point. I was really unsettled by everything and feeling a bit lonely and unsupported. Coming undone a bit and not really knowing what to do with it. I drove the highway and tried my best to take it in but mostly was experiencing mild to medium road rage at what I perceived as the idiocy of people driving this road like it was an amusement park. Looking back now I see that I was really stuck in a New York mindset - I had not been confronted by Mother Nature’s power and magnitude for some time. In fact, I cannot remember the time before this moment that I was in the realm of the Earth Mother. I had spent way too much time in the city, some time upstate but that truly does not count as wilderness, nature and beauty yes but wildness, no. And the island is alive and way more powerful than you are. So much of this struggle I was experiencing internally was due to this conflict of energies - my way or the Hana Highway. The Earth Mother Island is in charge of the whole thing. Maharaji says - see everyone as the mother. And Ram Dass said - I look at the earth as a soul. It’s the Mother Soul and we have to take care of her. I was really out of sync with this energy at this time. Really out of sync. I was really in the linear - get there and get it done kind of mindset. It’s a really painful mindset to be in. Especially for me, personally, as a woman and just as a personality. My character is much much much happier in the flow of nature, the her embrace, with her as the master and me as a servant. But on this day, on this entire trip really, I would not relent. I didn’t even know that I needed to relent. I just was not on that wave length and it was causing me a lot of pain. It really has been causing me a lot of pain to not be with the Mother. It has been terribly painful to be out of sync with her, out of alignment with the true cause and effect. The heartbeat of our lives is connected to this source of all and for so many years, I have been separated from her. Some certain kind of insanity for sure. And on this day-trip to Hana, I was in a near complete disconnect from this rhythm, desperately focused on my goal, my timeline, my means to an end. I needed to check the box “Red Sand Beach at Hana” and move on! So I was driving like a maniac and missing a lot of the moment. And in a lot of fear and pain but trying nonetheless to stay present. To HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE. By the grace of my guru, I made it to Hana and I was fully underwhelmed. It felt so boring and inaccessible. I really hoped this beach was worth it but I was not really certain where it was. I parked my car near a baseball field and started off in the direction that I thought it might be. After not too much trouble, I ran into a couple who were returning from the beach and reassured me that I was on the right path. I carried on. I was not dressed appropriately and did not know what I was getting into. The path was rough and so incredibly beautiful it was difficult to even take it in. To be in a place of such impeccable beauty is like nearly impossible to comprehend. It’s just so beautiful and idyllic and absolute paradise you cannot compute it as such. And you’re right on the edge of the island. On the edge of the ocean to nowhere. There is nothing - but amazing blue waters as far as you can see. And beautiful bright sunny skies. And bright green trees and black lava rock. Just hypnotizing beauty. After traveling for some time on the path alone I encountered four young French people who said to me, “Paradise is just around the corner.” I started to get afraid. Apprehensive. It was a feeling of entering a space that is sacred and really deep in the earth. …
It would be nearly two years after this moment that I would have another encounter with Mother Earth where I was put in my place - astounded by her magnitude and humbled by her power and beauty. It’s odd that we take ourselves away from this contact. But it’s also very understandable. To stand in the face of this kind of power really puts you in your place. We can navigate the day-to-day ups and downs and practice letting go and relinquishing our grip on how things ought to be and release into the flow, etcetera, etcetera. But to be truly faced with your own powerlessness and participation in something that is going on completely irreverent of you is quite an ego-bruising experience. If you are insignificant in the eyes of the Earth Mother, no wonder we want to control her. I had a podcast conversation with one of my favorite authors, Terry Tempest Williams, where we talked about this. She called it a “terrifying beauty”. And to be willing to submit to this beauty, to stand in awe and respect and fear and gratitude and to desire to merge with it, or commune with it, or be a part of it in some way. This is what inspired so many protectors to protect and conserve. John Muir, Gary Snyder. In India, nature is flowing in different way that is just as potent but so intertwined with humanity and spirit that it is all consuming of the one. In America we have these outstanding wilderness sites - displays of absolute natural wonder, magic in nature. You can find this feeling everywhere if you’re looking but once you have tasted the ferocity of the wild, it’s hard to desire the feeling in another way. This all-consuming surrender of self into the whole without consequence. I experienced this at the Red Sand Beach in Hana. There were about four or five other people there, taking selfies and floating in the water. I was afraid of sea life coming in to the little protected bay. It felt like they were right there, right on the other side of the rocks and that I was in their terrain. It was really sunny and I was feeling ecstatic. It was ecstatic, the water, the sun, the red sand, the cliffs, the seclusion, the peacefulness, the power. It was so incredibly healing. I didn’t even know it at the time. I knew I didn’t have much time to spend there because of the drive back but there wasn’t much to do once you were there and in the water for a while. You didn’t need to hang out for very long to get the medicine. To feel the intensity and the power of the place. Rust red lava cinder cliffs. I was here and now feeling very alone. Very much broken and alone on this journey but also very held by the beauty of the place and the island itself. I tried to take a selfie but I didn’t like my face so they did not turn out. After swimming for as long as felt fun and gathered myself and started back out on the trail. About half way back to the start, I was overcome with joy and realized how happy I could be and how beautiful it was and I now took a selfie where I was truly grinning ear to ear and feeling so cleansed and clear and free!
And then. . . by the time I made it back to my car, I realized that there was nothing wrong with me and that I had allowed myself to be passed up for so many things because I thought I was not good enough and after this restorative bath at the base of the mother ship, I understood that this was not true and that I could be loved as I was and that all the worthlessness was a lie and then I got in my car and got ANGRY! REALLY REALLY REALLY MAD! I was coming to terms with the fact that I had believed myself to be a problem, to be unworthy, to be not good enough and that I had allowed others to reflect this to me and agree with them and that this was wholly and completely untrue and now I was PISSED OFF that I had lived this way and given away so much of my desires to others thinking that they were more deserving than me. I got MAD. Super HOT MAD and was yelling at the picture of Maharaji and about to pick up my phone and call someone and tell them that I was good enough! but when I reached for my phone it died and Maharaji smiled and told me to remember this anger, told me to put it away and lock it up and keep it for another time. So now I’m driving back the Hana Highway in a rush to get to see Ram Dass at the hospital and I am processing this realization that there was nothing wrong with me, having a bit more joy and patience this time, going around the sharp corners and waiting my turn for the one-land bridges, fueled by this understanding and rage and wanting to do something with it but nowhere near ready to integrate the whole teaching. It had been at least 30 years that I had believing myself to be not good enough and now I was coming to terms with the fact that this was an illusion. A lie. I couldn’t believe it really . I was in disbelief about how wronged I had been by this way of seeing myself. I was stunned. And now the landscape and I were becoming one. The wilderness, the waving bamboo, the hidden waterfalls, the overlooking cliffs, the expanses of ocean, the whole thing was a part of me and I was a part of it and we were together in our struggle and our beauty.