Love Letter to Hawai’i: A Healing Land

LOVE LETTER // Hawai'i

A healing land

A healing land.

It seemed everywhere I turned, this was the message people were eager to spread;

That Hawai’i is a healing land.

On your healing land, I arrived with long hair, a suitcase that contained all of my possessions, and hope for a fresh start after a challenging 2020; personally, professionally, romantically.

I arrived somewhere between having no expectations and an infinity of ambitious hopes. I arrived with a deep desire to steward your land, to swim in your sea and ground in your forest. To find a more wild side of myself in your jungles, a softer side of myself in your fields. To renew a sense of wonder while looking at your stars, and to embrace a more mysterious side of myself in your unknown. Human connection-wise, my dear friend was preparing for his new forever love, and this was our chance to live an epic year of planning, shared experiences, and joy living in the same place for the first time in a long while. I felt ready, albeit unsure of what to prepare for.

After three days in the Hawaiian wilderness

On your healing land, I was initiated with my first camping trip (in my life) with my aforementioned dearest friend. We camped in a valley at the end of the world (literally), heated up food by fire, ate spicy ginger molasses cookies with cold oat milk under your illuminated sky, rose to the sun’s technicolored dream show, trekked through bamboo forests and descended hidden ropes courses to where the limbs of the cold springs meet the mouth warm sea. We climbed trees and made intentions for our year ahead.

“We are here now,” was our mantra. I’ve carried those 4 words with me all year, and being here now has taken me to places I’d never imagined with some of the people that have deeply shaped my life’s path.

“We are here now,” was our mantra.

On your healing land, I cut my hair and all the weight that it carried with it. A fresh-cut, a fresh start. I saw my first live volcano by night, and went on my first “journey” the following day; a true representation of a surrender to fear, conditioning, and a release of control. I planted my first garden under the direction of my long-time naturopathic doctor and sweet friend and then apprenticed with a committed local farmer to learn how to grow food, build bamboo structures, and build food forests. I learned fun facts like centipedes are blind, cucumbers start as small yellow flowers, wild pigs love macadamia nuts, and you have to hand-pollinate dragon fruit once a year. I harvested Thai Basil, observed the importance of companion plants, and ate fruit right off the trees as a reward for a job well done.

On your healing land, I bought a car on the spot without doing any sort of pre-purchase inspection (my first set of wheels in over a decade). The woman that sold it needed the money to go to California and escape an abusive partnership. I paid her the money. She left. The car had problem after problem, and the engine blew up a few months later in the middle of a dark highway late at night. I don’t regret it. After every explosion is a settling, and with every shadow is a gift. The key is to focus more on the gift the shadow shows us than the shadow itself. That was a sage wisdom nugget from one of my favorite humans that showed up in my life this year in the most magical way. I’d like to introduce him now.

Ken, a Buddhist from Buffalo NY, has shown me how to follow my nose, appreciate incense, and stop to smell the roses and the trees and the wood and the plants around me, everywhere I go. He has shown me what a truly empowering friendship looks like, feels like, sounds like, and is the kind of person where you want to write down all the things he says. One of those unexpected treasures that life delights you with. I’m burning a gardenia incense he made from flowers that we foraged together just a few months back. You represent goodwill, creative genius, and kindness at its finest, Mr. Ken.

Ken with his beloved tea plants

On your healing land, I fell in love with my home, a converted barn with impeccable design, air, and light. I was again reminded of the importance of the sanctity of living space. With two “landlords” that quickly became close friends, sharing many meals, smiles, dreams, and fears. What a pleasure to break bread with those who have cared for the land you lay your head, over the years. And have such deep mutual care surrounding us. What a gift to feel at home in your house, to wake up with the birdsong and sleep side by side with the breeze and the branches.

On your healing land, I learned that deep care and romance can co-exist and co-create with honesty. I spent many of my months on this island with a special soul who taught me the value of slowing down, planting one tree at a time, not complicating life, and letting nature be enough, a swim be enough, me to be enough. I learned it’s the standing on your tip-toes on a lawn chair to see the changing of the sky’s colors, dancing on the side of the street barefoot in the gravel, or processing a jackfruit with sticky hands; these are the moments that you remember. She made me remember the moments that are worth remembering, even after things shift from romance to friendship.

On your healing land, I said goodbye to my grandmother. Every Wednesday for the last 5 years, grandma and I Face-timed. On our final weekly Face-time call, I showed her your ocean. “Look how blue the water is grandma,” I told her.

“So beautiful,” she replied.

Those may have been the last words she said to me.

I looked out over your scenic point somewhere between Hawi and Waimea, and asked you to take her away. A few days later, you did. I miss you, grandma. I’m so happy I could show you the sea that I swim in as often as I can. The one where I set an intention before every dip, the one where I see new fish and dive down to explore new reefs, the one where Octopus and Eagle Rays and needlefish welcome me to their garden. That sea that I’ve grown to know and love so deeply. I’m glad I could show you.

Swimming in the Hawaiian waters

On your healing land, I picked coffee, separated the seed from the fruit, husked it, roasted it, and enjoyed every sip of its yellow apple skin meets strawberry shortcake meets chocolate finish taste. Hand to cup, in an effort to be even more self-reliant, sovereign, and in right-relation with the blossoming processes of life.

On your healing land, I started to write again. I launched my Patreon page, “Love Letters to the World and Its Keepers,” and an intimate group of loyal supporters who are making my dream of being a paid writer come true showed up. I wrote songs for the most important people in my life. I wrote wedding songs for my sister and soul-brother, I wrote songs for loved ones, old and new. I wrote a book of poetry, putting prose to accompany photos of the trees, flowers, and plants that guided me throughout this year.

On your healing land, I hosted transformational retreats. I had the privilege of showing New Yorkers the magic of the island, guiding them through nature-centric writing exercises as a way to connect more deeply with self, with truth, and with the future version of themselves they want to offer the world.

On your healing land, I was asked to be the best man by my longest friend, Alex. In a year-long celebration of love, I not only deepened my connection with him but also had the pleasure to create a beautiful and bright friendship with his new now bride. We traversed your island, swam with the dolphins and whales, broke bread, chased rainbows, celebrated sunsets, and strengthened our bodies. We welcomed 100 dedicated and loving souls for a 2021 Lovefest where we sang, gathered, and honored a lifetime of “I do” at your exquisite Mauna Lani. I watched two people living their dream and the happiness that followed the realization of that vision.

On your healing land, I learned the importance of completion and trusting the intuitive whispers that circle when it’s time to move on. I learned that part of the infinity of magic is the limitation of time. I learned that with restraint comes creativity, that with finite timelines come rich depth. I learned that when I truly channel my own inner and outer power, I become the source, and no matter where my road leads, the source shines a bright light. I learned that as easefully as I arrived, I also departed. Full of hope, guided by grace, charged by change.

On your healing land, I leave you much different than you found me.

I leave stronger.

I leave more connected.

I leave renewed.

I leave hopeful.

On your healing land, I leave knowing that whether I am barefoot on your earth, bathing in your sea, or watching your clouds dance in the sky,

Or whether I am in a cafe in Colombia

or a crowded street in New York City.

Wherever I may find myself.

I am here now.

Barefoot walking in Pololu Valley’s sea of green.

Brian Rashid is the creator of Love Letters to the World and Its Keepers, leads nature-centric writing and self-discovery retreats, and speaks around the world on the power of creativity and how to make dream projects come to life. Interested in working with Brian in some way? We love to hear from you, so contact us:

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