Stumbling Upon Paradise

What does paradise look like? This is the view from Kula Lodge in upcountry Maui. It hugs the Haleakala Crater at an elevation of 3200 feet. It was built in 1948 as a private home, which hosted parties for mid-century celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy, and Katherine Hepburn. But for a modern audience, it’s just paradise.

Our discovery of this slice of perfection on a trip to Hawaii in 2019 barely qualifies as a hike. We were in the car, meandering in the agriculture area of eastern Maui, not sweating or navigating a trail map or lacing up hiking boots. We were hungry and didn’t have a plan. We merely drove as if fireflies to the light. Then, we stumbled upon paradise. With a view that extends for miles, indigenous flowers that cling to the patio, clean air amidst the low clouds, I’d say this qualifies. It seemed as if we had perched ourselves on that mountainside to see what life would be like in heaven. And the food? Divine!

I’m a planner, constantly arranging my day to maximize impact and effort. Letting go and allowing are concepts I’ve struggled with in my writing and work life. Yoga and meditation do battle with my To Do lists and calendar on a daily basis. So, these moments of unexpected joy are special exactly because they are not manufactured or researched or designed but purely and only spontaneous.

Rare is the moment in the writing life when the words arrange themselves on the page at exactly the moment they are needed, hitting the right tone, revealing a character’s perspective, and advancing the story, creating just the perfect metaphor. Rare. Sometimes they come after weeks of plopping down on the couch, morning after morning after morning. And sometimes they float from the ether onto the page so that I spend more time sitting back admiring them than I do crafting them. Rare is that moment. But nourishing nonetheless, enough so to keep me moving, searching, exploring. and plopping my rear-end on the couch again and again in its pursuit.

I am a devotee of Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame).  Her tome to the creative life is a book titled Big Magic: Creative Life Beyond Fear. She has so many great quotes in this book and I read snippets whenever I need a kick in the pants or need to reconnect to the why of writing. I’m enamored of her idea of the jewels buried inside each of us. “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them…The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living…The often surprising results of that hunt—that’s what I call Big Magic.”

This was the feeling that day in Maui, clinging to the side of the mountain while peering into those surprising, distant jewels. And this is the feeling on those rare occasions when words and thoughts align into something magical, something jewel-like.

Where is your favorite “paradise-by-accident” place?

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