I just had the good fortune to spend two weeks in Maui near Ka’anapali Beach and Lahaina, an area that I visited for the first time in 2013 under much different life circumstances (different career, home, and relationships to name a few). While Maui was as I remembered it, I thought myself to be an entirely different person from the gal who landed there 3 years prior.
I wasn’t entirely eager to go back, having “been there, done that”. But as soon as I stepped off the plane, my body responded. I simply thrive in a more tropical environment–the sun and light, the humidity, the colorful landscape, the fresh air and light breeze. Although I’m well aware of the dangers of both the sun and sunblock lotions, I’m one who infrequently burns and I feel so much better when I have a tan. It was even easier to be healthy there: walk to the shop for a coffee and back, walk to the farmers market / grocery for veggies and back, walk to the fish market for types of fish unheard of on the mainland that only needed a simple dusting of salt, pepper, and lemon juice to be amazing. A lot of walking, not a lot of exercise, although I did take a few gentle yoga and NIA classes and enjoyed them all very much. I was staying in about a 700 sqft 1 bedroom with an ocean view. Absolute heavenly paradise.
As if that weren’t enough, an opportunity presented itself to do the unthinkable–to stay. Well aware of my typical wanderlust for new countries and the concept of “island fever”, it was still an interesting proposition. I almost hadn’t wanted to come again at all, and now, here I was, considering whether it was more important to live in walking distance to the beach or to see the ocean from a lanai.
Although I hadn’t ever considered it, suddenly I was enamored with the idea, and thing after thing started to fall into place, seemingly to open the gate to this magical once-in-a-lifetime experience. And the more things that lined up, the more I started to desire this life. Even with all the untangling of life that would have to be done (especially leaving my classes/clients and ridding myself of possessions–again), I could feel myself ready to leap.
And then, what was starting to become unthinkable happened. It all fell apart. In the blink of an eye, at the height of my desire, it all just ended. And I was left with so many feelings: anger, disappointment, hurt. Those emotions, and the awareness that something I taught not more than a month ago in my yoga classes–non-attachment (Aparigraha) had just bitten me in the Maui-tanned and firmed buttocks.
So now what to do? Well, to start, I felt anger and disappointment in not just the situation or in others, but in myself for being duped. (It isn’t the first time, and one often thinks that in retrospect one would have learned something by now, right?) But here I was, feeling naive and stupid, starting to beat myself up. I’m happy to say that where I am now is this recognition of having been so attached to the idea, which is always the first step to treating yourself better in the face of disappointment.
But other interesting things have started happening. Coincidentally for spring, I have started getting rid of possessions again. I lived for two weeks in a very small space, with nothing but a few clothes and pairs of shoes and books, and things just felt, well, simpler. So I am purging “as if” I were going to live in that paradise. And I don’t mean just the easy stuff. I mean the hard stuff too. That large Rubbermaid bin of old journals and photo albums are getting a “best of” scan, and they are going too. There is only now and my future, and I feel lighter already.
I can’t say I’m not frustrated that I can’t walk–well, anywhere, to get food or fresh fish, but I’m doing what I can to preserve the simplicity with which I cook. I’m also consciously using more of my free time for reading, study, and reflection rather than mindlessly vegging in front of the TV. And I find that coming back to my classes feels smooth; it’s great when students and clients are happy I’ve returned, and I can continue helping people during my upcoming workshop. I am reinvigorated to help myself too. To work smarter, to play more, to examine this experience not to beat myself up more, but to ask what lesson I’m meant to learn from again being presented with attachment.
Aparigraha. Sometimes it’s a real bite in the butt!