Exercise more. Give up sweets. Stop buying books. There was no way I could ever live up to these resolutions, and so I found myself repeating them year after year.
At some point in my life’s journey, I attended a New Year’s Eve ceremony in which we wrote a word on a piece of paper. That word could be, we were told, a thing. It might be an emotion. It could be a goal. It might be something we wanted to see more of in the coming year. It might be something we wanted to let go of from the previous year.
Once we wrote our word down on a slip of paper, we burned the paper. The point being to release the word—the thing, the emotion, the goal—to the universe, the powers that be, whatever, and wherever offerings of words wind up.
I’ve shared some resolutions over the five-and-a-half years I’ve been penning this blog. I repeated one—be the first to smile—because I ran into a monk who smiled with diamonds in his eyes. And I am still practicing the one I made last year—to continually fall in love with the world. I’ve decided the repetition of resolutions isn’t such a bad thing, after all. It’s not an indication of failure. In fact, resolutions that become lifelong practices are a good thing. Maybe that just means I’m getting smarter at making resolutions;-)
As I think about this year’s resolution, I am also reviewing my favorite images from 2013, above. I’ve chosen them not necessarily because they’re great photographs, but because they have meaning for me. Quite a few represent nature. I’d like to think a few of them made you fall in love with the world just a little bit more. Did they?
There was Lola who put on a whale-palooza of a show. There was a pair of flirting Laysan albatrosses--and the result of the romance, a chick. For the fifth year in a row, an Hawaiian monk seal nicknamed Rocky gave birth to a pup on Kauai’s North Shore. I chose this particular image from the thousands that I happily snapped for its emotion. I’ve spent hundreds of hours with Rocky and her pups over the years. She’s a good mom. I think this photo captures that.
And, then, there were the scenic shots. You know I’ve also spent a lot of time at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. This past May marked a special occasion—its 100th anniversary. To celebrate, a book about its 100 years of existence was published. I wrote it.
As much as I try to explore Hawaii—and, especially, Kauai, where I live—a new place always pops up on my radar. For 2013, that was the Kilauea Stone Dam on Kauai’s North Shore. It’s a beautiful, meditative spot with a waterfall.
Of course, there were people who made the year special for me. My friend Katie was visiting when 2013 kicked off. We spent many hours walking the beaches on “photo dates.” And mid-year, my husband and I along with a few other friends (hi Susan!) kayaked Napali Coast. Then, I was introduced to a man, long dead, who also visited Hawaii—Ansel Adams—and he made quite an impression on me.
Lastly, the plane shot. I snapped this from my usual window on a flight from the mainland. It’s always good to return home to Hawaii;-)
On the subject of resolutions, this year's? In a word, stillness. That's not to say I am planning to slow down any. I will continue to travel the Hawaiian Islands, interviewing interesting people, photographing scenic wonders, exploring trails, and kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, diving, surfing and paddling the waves and water of Hawaii. And, then, write about it.
When I think of stillness, the image that comes to mind is the 13,796-foot Mauna Kea. That tallest of mountains presiding over Hawaii Island at the other end of the Hawaiian Island archipelago. A place that with its unique alpine micro-climate was actually blanketed in a snow last month, visually defining its Hawaiian name--white mountain. The word "mauna" can be further broken down into two words. "Mau," which translates to "always, steady, constant, ever, unceasing, permanent, stationary, continual, perpetual, persevering, enduring and lasting." The second word, "na" translates to "calmed, quieted, pacified, assuaged, soothed, and settled."
The goddess Poli'ahu once lived on Mauna Kea, and a story goes that another goddess--Pele--came for a visit one time. It wasn't an amicable visit. In the confrontation that ensued, it was Poli'ahu's calmness that pacified the fiery powers of Pele. The strength of stillness proved more powerful than a fury of energy.
Stillness speaks to me of inner peace. The image of Mauna Kea and the story of Poli'ahu remind me to stay calm when my world swirls around me. Stillness also reminds me to stand true to me. After half-a-century on "Island Earth," as master navigator Nainoa Thompson calls this planet on which we live, I know what's important to me. I know what I am here to do. Mauna Kea reminds me to stand still in the inner knowing of who I am. And when I think about this, a feeling of peace floods my being.
In this New Year, I extend to same to you: Peace be with you.