Imagine being blindfolded on a half-mile walk through the tropical forest in Hawaii to a 442-foot waterfall. You are only allowed to cast your eyes upon the waterfall and nothing else. Curiosity alone would make you dream of being able to see what you missed on the walk! Yet, so many of us live every day numb to our surroundings just rushing to the next destination. The moment that you open your eyes to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, that is the moment that you take the blindfold off.
Recently I spent three months living in Hawaii, while there I visited the spectacular Akaka Falls. I didn’t zip line the falls or do anything extravagant, I just drove up and entered via the walking path. Despite this visit being toward the end of my time living in the thick of the Hawaiian jungle, I was enamored by the beauty of the wilderness leading up to the waterfall. I walked slowly absorbing the view of all the tropical plants, the smell of rain in the air, and the sound of the small stream trickling below the path. I stepped aside many times to allow the packs of people rushing along to pass, while taking note of how everyone walked quickly upon the path. In their dash to get to the destination, they were missing the beauty that Mother Nature provided. There was so much to see leading up to the waterfall; it was like a beautiful melody written by nature itself, and everyone was listening to it in fast forward except for me.
The path was surrounded by magic, including a family of trees connected as all of their branches were intertwined unlike any I had seen before. Large, bountiful banana trees with leaves longer than I am tall! Other trees with funky, red banana-like growths that looked so neat, even though I had no idea (and still don’t know) what they are. A bamboo forest reaching far below the path and growing high up to the sky, at least as high as a three-story building. And, an adorable plant with curly-cue branches, one of which looked like it was a handlebar mustache; oh, if only this plant could talk, I imagined it would have quite the entertaining personality.
After admiring every plant, tree, and breath of fresh air along the way, I made it to Akaka Falls. It was every bit as beautiful as the jungle I experienced on the walk. The water free falls 442 feet from the cliff edge to the stream below, which is twice the height of Niagara Falls. Truly a sight to see!
So, this has been my goal: To do my best to live every second of my life in this way of truly seeing all the details of the moment I am in. I’ve found that this state of mind isn’t just for when you’re traveling or doing a fun, adventurous activity, this can be applied in everyday life too! Now, when I go grocery shopping, I make it a point to stop to smell the fresh flowers they just planted at the store entrance. Walking down the street, I look around in awe of the architecture, paint colors, patterns, and decorations or admire the variety of styles and textures in footwear of passengers on the subway. Paying for my morning coffee, I look the barista in the eyes and notice the beautiful color—sometimes I complement them or just admire them in silence (depending on the language barrier). There is magic to be found in all of these simple moments and small steps. After all, a life’s journey is made mostly from these moments. I will not miss them anymore!