Friday, December 07, 2007

Boy, Did I Pick the Wrong Week to Go to Maui? Then Again . . .

I am still here. I haven't forgotten about all of you. You see, I have been in a bit of tough spot. You won't really believe me when I say that this tough spot is Maui. Maddie and I are visiting my Dad in Maui and on the second day of my visit, we are inundated with a huge rain storm. The power goes out in my Dad's place and then, after two hours, it is restored. Phew.

I go to sleep that night and wake around 1 am to feed Maddie when I hear again the howling wind, the rain pouring over my head, what sounds like trees smashing into the headboard above my bed. I try to flip the light switch, but the power is out. I try to go back to sleep, but it's hard with all of this noise. I wake up the next morning to discover the power is still out, it is still raining, and tree limbs are broken all over my Dad's property. We can't access any news since the power is out and we are not really prepared for this kind of storm. So, we head down to Kahului to get some baby formula and diapers. This is when I realize how bad this storm is. The road that leads from my Dad's street to the Kula Highway is suddenly a maze of torrential rivers, carrying tree limbs, mud, mud, and mud, and lots of water. We stop to admire the new waterfall that is carving a new river dangerously close to a house. Then, we head down to Kahului. It will be two days before we get back to Kula.

We ended up in Wailea for the night. My Dad has a friend who owns a condo there and we are saved. No hotels have any rooms left and we cannot get back home. Every time we make our way up the Kula Highway, we are stopped and told it will be another 30-45 minutes until they can clear the road. They say this about every hour. After my Dad gets us safely into the condo in Wailea, he decides to try one more time to get home. But, around 2:00 am he is back in Wailea.

The next morning we wake up happy because the power is back on. We make some coffee and try to get the cable to work to find out what is going on. The cable hasn't been restored. So, we just sip our coffee and watch the rain coming down when the power goes out again. We decide to head back up to Kula, but the highway leaving Wailea and Kihei is backed up with tons of people trying to get somewhere with power and food. It takes us several hours to get to Kahului and then we decide to go to Paia for a late lunch. We finally make it back to Kula around 5 pm and quickly get batteries into the lanterns we have just bought. We light candles, eat popcorn, and finally go to bed. When we wake up this morning, we discover that the power has still not returned so my Dad's wife decides we have to get out of Kula and so we pack to go to Wailea for the weekend. (This is actually pretty cool since we will be right near the resorts and great beach for a few days.)

On the way down the road leading from my Dad's house to the Kula Highway, we get a first hand look of the damage of this storm. You can see pictures and read about it in this article from the Maui News.

I bought Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray and Love before we were exiled from our home. I have been devouring it ever since the power went out. I strain to read it by candlelight or lantern, when my Dad isn't using it. And, the story that Gilbert tells of seeking a way to slow time and to be present resonates all the more in this stripped down, unplugged-from-the-grid existence that I am sharing with my Dad, his wife, and Maddie. Maddie doesn't care that she can't check her email, take a shower, or turn on the TV. She is just happy to be playing with her Grandpa. We are all together and really talking around candle light. I start to wish that I cultivated this kind of existence more.

The power outage has allowed me to slow down, to find some quiet, to really think about what matters. This storm has reminded me that nature always wins over man's quest to tame her. She can shut down all of our devices that keep us busy and deceive us into thinking we are in control of our lives. We aren't really. But this truth is only bitter for those who actually believe we can control anything outside of our own beliefs, attitudes, and thoughts. This is exactly the kind of truth that Gilbert goes seeking for in her memoir. However, while she has set out to find bliss, happiness, and divine love, I just wanted to hang out in Maui for a week. I had no grander quest in mind than a little sunshine and sea before returning to the snow. But, what I have stumbled upon is an invitation to reassess what I really need to be happy. Do I need to be in a well lit home, with my internet, cell phone juiced up, and TV on to feel good. Gilbert makes a distinction between being entertained and relaxing. The former is what I seek most of the time after a grueling day. But, what I have found during this bizarre Maui visit is true relaxation. It is just too bad that a few houses, cars, and trees had to be smashed up to give me this gift.