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For first time readers...my journey begins here: THE VERY FIRST BLOG POST (CC1)

Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finding Strength To Survive Illness

A Journey Into Positive Energy

My 10 Step Program (Part 2)

Well I have to say it was a grueling climb. The children's song: Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go, comes to mind. But, let me tell you this was no ordinary grandma! Once I reached the crest of the volcanic hill it was like another world. Grandma was there alright, with grandpa and the grand kids along with a party of about 25 others...ALL NAKED!

The beach was totally secluded, private on all 3 sides, very intimate and small. It was just a cove surrounded by volcanic rock and a dense wooded area. There was a young man "hanging out" high atop a banyan tree playing his guitar (very zen) while the grandparents played cards under a large beach umbrella as the grand kids made castles in the sand. Young men in there 20's played Frisbee and frolicked in the ocean waters. Everybody was having so much fun and nobody seemed to mind there wasn't a stitch of clothing to be had on the entire beach. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable as I climbed down off the rock and onto the hot sand.

I was the only one with a bathing suit on. I found myself a small patch of sand along the edge of the beach to rest and take in this unusual world. I definitely was a fish out of water! Sure I've heard of nude beaches before, but I never thought I'd ever go to one!

I laid on my stomach with a book so I could peer over the top and sightsee. How stupid was that?!! And yes, after a hour of sightseeing I noticed the book was upside down. I thought stuff like that only happened in the movies!

Then it dawned on me as I watched granny play cards...when you turn grey, you turn grey...ah...EVERYWHERE! OMG! Then I started to wonder: When women dye their hair, do they dye it down south too?

As I watched the young men swim and play buff catch, I started to ask myself: What if your swimming and a fish nibbles on your bait an tackle?? EWWW! And what about applying your sun screen: Do you rub it on before you go to the beach or slather up your willie in front of everyone? Do they have a book for this, Nude Beaches For Dummies? I don't know the rules!

It was obvious this crowd gathered here often, nobody had tan lines. Most appeared to be locals. They seemed to know each other well. I was so uncomfortable with what I was witnessing, yet everybody else acted as though it was just another day at the beach! Why?

I was raised to be embarrassed by nudity. "Good people" were "respectable" and covered themselves in public. Yet these people were so carefree and happy. It was a dichotomy of sorts. They were unashamed, it was natural as God intended us to be.

Why are humans embarrassed by nudity? We are the only animals on the planet that wear clothing. (Yes I maintain the belief that we are merely animals of a higher order!) Why? This is all Eve's fault dammit!

I kept saying to myself, "You're the only one with clothes on at this beach, you need to either join them or leave them in peace." So, I packed up and headed back to the Ritz scarred for life!

When I arrived to the hotel it was bustling with Christmas vacationers. Since it was my birthday, I wanted to spend it somewhere special. My concierge recommended Swan Court, located in the Hyatt.

When I arrived I was escorted to my table nestled next to a lagoon with live swans swimming about. Beyond the lagoon was the beach and ocean. Just spectacular! The staff was tipped off by my concierge that it was my birthday and they did everything to make my experience unforgettable. I couldn't have asked for more. I polished off a few drinks and this time there was no rush hour traffic to remove my hors d'oeuvre. Only a few graceful swans that swam up and greeted me table side.

Then before me came a sight I will forever remember. The moon was high and still full in the black night sky. A familiar misty rain began to fall. The hair on my arms stood to attention as the sight began to unfold. Before me, amazing grace, a full Moonbow. Yes, a Moonbow! They do exist and I have proof!

Moonbow over Maui

I felt the presence of the entire staff huddled behind me as we all watched in awe. My waiter remarked, "This is a very special night. It only happens like every 10 years!" Everything has to be just right for this phenomenon to emerge. At that moment it all started to sink in. This was no ordinary vacation, it had a purpose.

I can't recall how long it lasted because we all just stopped and stared until the mist subsided and the Moonbow went back into seclusion for another 10 years. I can't even remember my meal or even driving back to my hotel afterwards. The show left me speechless.

My next day trip would be to fly to Big Island to visit Volcanoes National Park. Big Island is the youngest, yet largest of all the islands. It contains 4,038 square miles and is still growing. That's 63% of the total land of the Hawaiian Islands. All the other Hawaiian Islands could fit into Big Island more than 2 times over.

I reserved a private helicopter to view the island with Mauna Loa, the world's most massive volcano and Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, from above. I hopped on the Aloha bus and flew to Big Island. I rented a car in Hilo and drove over an hour to the designated spot to catch my helicopter. I was puzzled when I arrived. The helipad was vacant and the building was locked. I called the office and an employee kindly apologized and told me there would be no helicopter today. WHAT?

I took a plane from Maui, rented a car, drove for an hour, and no helicopter? No courtesy call? I was hotter than Kilauea! The helicopter was commandeered by a park ranger because some idiot fell off a cliff and needed to be rescued! How rude! Couldn't he have waited one more day! Now what am I supposed to do?

They called the park ranger and informed him of my situation. He called me back and wanted to make things right. He realized I came a long way for nothing. His need for the helicopter was greater than my need to view a big glowing chimney from the sky. OK, so he was right.

He asked if I wanted a private ground tour of the lava flows. I would have to drive another hour, but what the hell. I was told to drive to Volcanoes National Park, take Crater Rim Drive that encircles Kilauea Caldera, to the Chain of Craters Road and drive until the road ends. "Until the road ends?" I asked. The road ends where the lava has washed out the road. A park ranger will be waiting for you. REALLY?

As I drove, I was in the park when I came upon the Jagger Museum. I stopped to check it out. Before me was Halemaumau Crater, said to be the home of mythological Hawaiian deity Madame Pele, goddess of fire, dance, and violence. (What a catch!) Often described as "She who shapes the sacred land." Click Here for a map of Big Island.

Halemaumau Crater

An old native Hawaiian once sat me down to tell me the legend of Pele. Born in Tahiti she was one of six daughters and seven sons of Haumea (the Earth goddess) Pele's father, Kane Milohai (father of the sky and heavens) exiled her to Hawaii after she seduced the husband of her older sister, Namakaokahai (goddess of water and sea.) Boy this Pele chick sounds like a real winner!

Pele first arrived on the island of Kauai creating her fire pits with her magic stick, but Namakaokahai followed after her, fought her, leaving her for dead and drowning the fire pits. Pele recovered and fled to Oahu and created the fire pit Diamond Head. After that she left her mark on Molokai before traveling to Maui and creating the Haleakala volcano. When her sister realized she was still alive she went to Maui to do battle.

The battle ended in Hana where her sister finally succeeded in killing her. Legend tells of her bones remaining as a hill called Kaiwio Pele. Pele's spirit rose as a God and she made her home at Halemaumau on Big Island. The old native told of her numerous lovers, blatant infidelities, and jealous rages that manifested into prevalent volcanic rage.

When the lava flows to the sea and steam forms as the sea waters beat against the molten lava, it is said the sisters are still fighting. What a family! This must be the Hawaiian version of "As The World Turns!" The legend never mentions Pele ever marrying...hum wonder why?

Continuing my drive the landscape began to change from green to brown and barren. I noticed volcanic vents along the way with a nasty, rotten egg smell. These geothermic vents spewed a gaseous sulfuric steam. If the volcano becomes very active, this vog (volcanic smog) may become widely spread and hazardous. There were offerings to Pele of flowers, and fruits and berries carefully placed near the rim of the crater in respect.

Sulfur Vent
Offerings to the Goddess Pele

Soon it appeared as though I had left the planet. It was like a black moon scape. As I came to the "end of the road" I found out it was no joke. For the first time I understood how lava can transform the Earth as we know it to a black and barren moonscape.

Old lava flows (on the right) transformed the Earth 
The End of the road baby!
$50 Fine - Strictly enforced traffic laws
Speed Trap-radar gun unnecessary!

I found my park ranger who introduced himself by saying, "Oh my you're wearing shorts and a T-shirt with sneakers!" HUH? There's a dress code to view lava? This wasn't exactly how I envisioned viewing the island either, so we're even. He was concerned about my attire because he planned to take me out "onto" the lava flows. My sneakers might melt if I stayed still too long. I was instructed to stay behind him as he poked at the new black Earth before us.

Now feeling a bit flush, I began to hear a crackling and tinging sound as we approached the bubbling redness. Once again I was in awe, mesmerized by the view, the birth and creation of new land. Humbled, I took picture after picture and when all were developed (this was before digital cameras kids) everyone of them looked the same...200 pictures of red blobs against black blobs! I guess I wanted to make sure I got a good one!

Smoldering hot lava at my feet

He explained that there were tubes of molten hot, 2,000 degree lava, rushing under our feet beneath the surfacing making its way to the sea. Some of this lava would break the surface creating the blobs we were seeing. We carefully walked through the field to an area where lava was flowing into the sea. Indeed Pele and her sister were still at it! What a fight!

I was cautioned to avoid breathing any steam in the area. When lava flows enter the sea, it bursts into pieces building new land at the oceans edge from the fragmented material. This rubble is then covered with a veneer of lava flows forming a "bench" which gives a false impression of solid ground. This bench can break off into the ocean at anytime.

A Lava Plume at night

When waves splash the open steam of lava they explode in a cloud of steam, hot water and tephra (molten spatter, tiny glass fragments known as "Pele's hair") called a "tephra jet." I guess that means Pele's sister is ripping her hair out!

The plume of steam is called laze (lava haze) created when sea water vaporizes. Chlorine in the sea salt combines with hydrogen in the water and forms hydrochloric acid in the plumes along with tiny glass fragments from the lava. Boy when these girls fight they don't mess around! Kind of reminds me of the old "Dynasty" series. Take that you bitch!

It was getting dark and I had to make it back to Hilo to catch a plane to Maui. I bid my guide adieu and hightailed it back to the airport, just in time to catch the last flight of the day. Another amazing experience. I feel so energized and alive, like a child learning new things. There is so much more to life than working and making money! Did I just say that???

It was soon time to depart the Ritz. A wonderful, relaxing place to home base, but I was now on the last leg of this life changing journey. Last stop: Kauai, the Garden Isle. Upon approach it was beautiful. I would soon learn that there were a lot of businesses not open do to hurricane Iniki. The eye of the category 4 hurricane passed directly over Kauai devastating the island, destroying 1,400 homes and damaging 5,000 others. The storm caused over 1.8 billion dollars in damage to homes and businesses.

Even though the storm pounded the isle a few years ago, there were still signs of damage and rebuilding. The island was peaceful, not bustling as Maui or Oahu, but it was beautiful. The front desk clerk told me that the tourist trade had slowed down dramatically after the storm. Mostly because many of the shops were still closed and some of the owners had just moved away.

With only two days on the island I thought it best to find a helicopter to take it all in quickly, so I booked with a group. This would not be the private ride I wanted, but it was all that was available. There better not be another idiot falling off a cliff this time! There were 4 maybe 6 of us that went up that afternoon and it was amazing. The view from above was awe inspiring! So dramatic were the waterfalls, pools, and lagoons reflecting a thousand shades of green.

Above Kauai

Time, wind, and water conspired to form Kauai slowly eroding the ancient volcano, etching a cleft through her heart, the mighty Waimea (red) Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Petrified spectrum of reds abound. Though smaller than it's Arizona kin, it's just as impressive.

The Grand "Waimea Canyon"

Swiftly we flew to the Napali Coast where the mountains stood like sentinels protecting the North shore of the island. These razor edged sea cliffs march along the shore forming a barrier resting on a blue velvet sea. I have never witnessed beauty on such a grand scale. Breathtaking!

The Napali Coastline

As I got to know some of the people from the hotel to the helicopter, it was obvious I was a bit of an outcast. Everybody was a newly wed! No matter where I went, love was in the air. Young couples holding hands, nuzzling, kissing, and smiles surrounded me. I began to feel a little uncomfortable. Everybody else had someone glued to them and there I was, a loner. Well this was the last day so I opted to spend it on the beach with all the other love birds. This time they all had clothes on!

When I got back to my room I had a message from the airline that my flight home had been canceled. Oh damn! How could I honestly spend another day on this mystical isle? After two weeks of splendor I was ready to go home, but one more day couldn't hurt right? I spent my last day in peace resting and checking out the shops that were open.

I had to take Aloha Airlines back to Oahu to catch my connecting flight on American Airlines back to San Francisco. The first class accommodations were well received after enduring that Aloha bus. That's the only thing I won't miss about this magical chain of isles called Hawaii. ALOHA and MAHALO!

As I flew home I began to think of those people washing their crystals to give them energy. I don't need to re-energize a rock to give me strength. I recharge my body and soul with the gifts all around me. The more I opened my eyes the more I began to see. You have to open a door to view the beauty within. Why I was given so many blessings in so short a time, I wouldn't come to realize the answer for almost a year.

Eight months later I was in a battle for my life. My doctors gave me 3 months to live. It was then that I realized what all this was for. These were lessons of how to tap into nature to for the energy to survive.


1. The bioluminescent creatures dancing upon the sand like millions of diamonds, filled my soul with the knowledge that you may be a star one night, but may no longer shine the next. Enjoy today, for there may be no tomorrow.

2. The playful turtle taught me to be free, child like, invincible. Hawaiians believe the turtle is a sign of strength, protection and wisdom, creation and longevity. Ancient Hawaiian stories tell of them being helpers and demigods. His presence fed me this energy I needed.

3. The white horse taught me to stop and smell the roses. Even when you feel lost and alone, if you follow your rainbow you will find your bliss.

4. The Brahma bull taught me that even when you are alone, be happy. Scratch that itch and dance as if nobody watching! Celebrate the day!

5. The gecko (my drinking buddy) taught me to think before you over indulge or you could end up on the wrong side of the door, dead! Even after your gone others will continue to survive while checking in and out of your room. At that point you're nothing but a memory, or an outline on a door frame!

6. The people on the nude beach taught me to be free and open to change. There is always time to learn new things. Never be ashamed to be yourself. Be open to new experiences and respect others for what they believe.

7. The majestic Moonbow taught me that even when you've lost your rainbow, there is always a bigger and better one waiting around the corner, if you just believe. Miracles do happen! (my personal mantra)

8. Madame Pele taught me to fight and stand strong. There is always time to rebuild and reshape yourself. When you draw from the fire within, you can create anything.

9. Kauai taught me that even if you're hit with the force of a hurricane, you can rebuild and in the process remain breathtakingly beautiful. Breath deep, life is ever changing, we cannot control the world around us. Take what you're given and live in harmony with the forces of nature.

This two week crash course in understanding how to replenish my energy was a gift beyond all gifts. Those people with the crystals were on the right track. Their eyes were open, but they didn't believe enough in themselves to re-energize their own bodies and souls.

You don't need an object to give you strength. Strength comes from within. You must build a fire to create the passion to keep moving. Breath deep everyday and gather your energy from the nature that surrounds you: a sunset, a frog in the pond, dew resting on the morning lawn. See the gifts and open your mind and you will find the energy you seek.

Oh I almost forgot the most important of all the lessons:

10. Some might think I'm a nut, just as I thought when I watched those people washing their crystals in the sea for strength and energy, but I have learned not to care what others may think...what works for me might not work for you :) March to the beat of your own drum!

Maluhia! (Peace)

Kilauea Erupts!

A Journey into Positive Energy - PART 1


Anonymous said...

The way you tell your story to point out a life lesson is full of humor and intrigue. It is a great way to boost ones day.

However the closest I have heard of a fish confusing the male member for a worm was this story.

"TWO Papua New Guinea fishermen have bled to death after having their penises bitten off by pirahna-like river fish.

The fish, which zero in on urine streams in the water, have struck terror among villagers along the Sepik River."

I enjoyed the trip through the islands though. Thanks for the memories.

Jan said...

brian, wow...that post must be a record for longest length! thanks for stopping by and saying hi. i wish you all the best! jan

Jan said...

i haven't read through your posts but noticed you really only recently started picking up the pace with your blog, due to your illness and treatments, etc. i will come back when i have time and try to read more. take care!

Anonymous said...

So Happy I found you at the Colony! I enjoyed this Blog and will be back to read more. My grandson liked the lava videos, I loved it all. Beautiful lesson, story, picture's and writer.
Thanks Nanasu

Jan said...

How are you doing? I meant to tell you earlier how amazing your stories and photos/videos are of your Hawaii excursion. Just amazing. Hope you are ok.

Dr. Swill said...

JOHN ~ Thank you and if I ever finf myself in Paupua New Guinea I'll be sure to stay out of the water!

NANASU ~ I'm so glad you BOTH enjoyed and apprecicate your kind words. Make sure you preview before he reads anything. I sometimes have a language problem. Show him the elephant that paints I'm sure he'll like that too!

JAN ~ I am well, just very tired and waiting on my second surgery to adjust my tongue. I just can't get used to doing so little everyday. My mind says, "Go, go, go"...and my body just laughs and says, "Pull up a chair you're gonna be her awhile!" Thank you for your kind words and concern.

Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi