Abbey I Seitz

Life on the Rock

Take silence, and respect it

With only a week on Oahu, I’ve never been more motivated to go out and see all that the island has to offer. Even in the midst of finals, I have found myself simply wandering, enjoying the beautiful views and the kind people here. I’ve always been scared of doing things by myself, afraid of the ‘loneliness’ that it might bring. However, while being here I’ve discovered a certain curiosity in doing activities in the group of one. If we never let anyone see us alone, then we see the weather outside, meet new friends, or find ourselves in a whole new part of town. In certain loneliness comes freedom, to see the world as it is and enjoy it.

“Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is a healing if you make it.”-Tanya Davis

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My Wandering Friend

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“A few steps later, the canopy gives way to raw sunlight and a breathtaking vista of the sea pounding itself against stone and sand. It seems like we can see for miles, and I wonder how much better the view is when you have a friend to share it with.”-The Cure

Before I left for Hawaii, and even still today when talking to friends back home they were fascinated with the lifestyle here. Questions like are you going to learn to surf and how often are you going to go the beach were usually the topic of discussion. Before I left, Hawaii seemed distant and exotic to me, and the reality of living here seemed even stranger.  Even though I have been here for three months, I still find myself in moments where everything seems so new to me, where everything combines to be a beautiful creation seen for the very first time. It is still odd to me for so many who have lived here their entire life that these moments of awe for me has simply become part of their daily life. Many wouldn’t think twice about the dark clouds contrasted against the vast green mountains, or the endless amount of blue found in any direction. 

No matter where you go in life, there is beauty and wonder if you look hard enough. For each, there is unique place the resinates deep within your soul. In my life, Oahu has sunk deep into my heart, and oh how I wish others could be on this journey with me. If only there was a way to show my friends and family back home the way the sun moves up over the mountain in the morning and wakes me, the strange feeling you get from getting rained on while looking up to a cloudless sky, or how while hiking you can within minutes go from hot dry fields, to lush rain forests, to being surrounded by massive coniferous trees and pine needles. For all of you who I hold in my heart, I wish you were here, along side wandering with me.

 

Without Breath

On a day like today where I spent the afternoon with my two good friends hiking the Olomana trail, better known as the the Three Peaks hike, its hard to imagine a more beautiful land. After a grueling two hour hike to the first peak, I was blessed to find myself more than a mile high with grand views of the lush windward valley to my east and the coastline of Lanikai, Kailua, and Kaneohe to my west. The sun was at its peak, and in every direction a swirling of different shades of green and blue sparkled below. And even through the slight haziness of today, if you looked in just the right spot of the ocean you could see the outline of the mountains from neighboring islands. 

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In such a beautiful land, where being carefree is presumed the motto for many of the residents, its also hard to imagine that problems are present in this paradise. However, even these small islands in the middle of the pacific do not escape the complexity of the real world. Coming here my expectations were to go to the beach as much as possible, meet some new friends, and maybe learn to surf along the way. However living in Manoa, on the outskirts of urban Honolulu, I have seen a great deal of the beauty and growing problems of such a melting pot of cultures. Coming from Minnesota, where almost all of my hometown was white and had lived there their entire life, it is such a beautifully unique experience to make friends spanning from the east coast of the mainland to Asia. However, I noticed that this mixture of people has also lead to problems unknown to those unfamiliar with the island. The tension that residents have for the military, the bitterness the natives have for the mainlanders who reside on their island, and the large number of homeless who are often being pushed out my the upscale neighborhoods and resort communities, all greatly effect the culture here and the lives all who reside here. 

This week at a nearby cafe and art lounge they had, as they do every ‘First Thursday’, a slam poetry event where people, poets and non poets alike, go up in front of about two hundred people and ‘Slam’ about issues, good and bad, in their life. This week a student went up front and started talking about the word Ha. In the Hawaiian language the word Ha means breath. However this student did not slam about how Hawaii gave him breath, but the breath we take away because of the racism and discrimination that takes place here for others who we believe do not belong here. In opposite to breath, the term Haole means without breath, breathless. That term is often used by the locals for the mainlanders, or any white people that come to the island. Although it is sometimes used to vaguely describe Caucasian people, it is often used in a racist and deeming way, a bold way of saying you don’t belong here. 

I don’t mean to suggest that certain people are right or wrong, or to say that all islander are against mainlanders–as a whole, Oahu has opened my eyes to some of the most friendly and loving people I have ever met. However beautiful coastlines and valleys cannot solve the problems that are present in society. In my case, although there are some that would refer to me as having no breath, with a simple glance out my window I am reminded that I am in a land that, in the best way possible, takes my breath away. And if nothing else, this gives me joy

The Stranger

 

On this afternoon, I find myself seeking refuge in my room from the hot sun the day brings. Its in these times were the wind is blowing, the birds are chirping, and a soft backdrop of Radiohead is playing I can think. It’s weird how our view of the past can change in an instant. You realize how great your friends were, the impact you had on other people, and the unique opportunities that were both taken and missed. The past, no matter how many of us want to ignore it, sits right there along aside of us. When we finally accept it’s there, it no longer haunts us, but rather stirs up a different emotion. In that moment, we forget that we are strangers; and we feel the past rewrite itself. In a moment, the past becomes a beautifully crafted paper chain explaining where you are today.

I am a visitor here, I am not permanent

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about home. Not necessarily going back home, but trying to figure exactly where home is. It’s weird-when I first went off the college last fall I constantly longed to be back home in Minnesota. I wanted nothing more to be able to ride my bike through the streets of Minneapolis, to laugh hours on end with my closest friends,and to simply have the smell of my mom cooking supper to seep into my room. I had this idea that my home, those years, were sacred, and nothing could replace them. I had this idea that I couldn’t be happy any place else. Since being here,over 7000 miles away, I am constantly shocked about how little I reminisce about home. My dwelling thoughts of my home life have been replaced with new relationships, a fondess of the nature that surronds me, and a pursuit of finding out what I’m truly passionate for in life. Today with some friends we decided to ditch the traditional Homecoming Gameday and went hiking along Manana Trail. While hiking to bottom of the mountain where the waterfall was located, I, per usual, because of my slowness was far behind my friends. The steepness of the mountain along with the abundance of tree roots caused me to become fixated on my feet, solely concentrated on making it down. However, for a brief moment there was opening in the canopy, and in that brief moment I witnessed as the stillness of the lush green mountains of Waimano  were clipped by the dwindling sunlight from the west. Not only was this of course aesthetically beautiful, but in that moment I realized something crucial, that this nature, this beauty, has always been here. It is the times when we take a step back, become less concentrated on making it from point A to point B, that we will finally realize the nature in this world.

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On this abnormally calm and quiet Saturday night, I find myself wondering what home really is. Maybe for some it’s where they first grew up, maybe it’s where they found a job, or maybe for some its where they first fell in love. And even maybe some never find a home, with the constant rooting and de-rooting of themselves in different cities, cultures, and passions they find joy.

We’re still alive

Looking back on my last post I realized that through all my thoughts, I forgot to mention what I have been actually doing in Honolulu. Although I have only been here for a month and a half, I feel like I’ve done more in these 9 weeks than much of my life. I began my time doing some of the traditional tourist activities, mostly involving Waikiki. There’s so much more to Hawai’i than Waikiki, than what you see on the postcards. Two weekends ago me and some friends intended to go an hike Koko Head, however when getting off TheBus, instead of taking a left, we accidentally took a right leading us a couple of miles into a residential area. For a brief moment we were confused and lost, but then a helpful stranger told us although we had taken the wrong route to Koko Head, we were at the spitting caves, a sight well worth seeing.

The beauty of the road less traveled was apparent in the cliff filled coast and the cycle of the ocean spitting to and from the caves back in the ocean.

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This weekend me and my roommates continued our quest to discover the hidden treasures in Hawai’i. This time we tried our hand at the Kalihi Ice Ponds. Once again, I was amazed at how fast you can go from loud urban life, and within one mile, find yourself surrounded by the jungle and mountains, with only the sounds of the birds and your mind to keep you entertained. While hiking to the Ice Ponds I was pleasantly surprised by the decrease of intensity of the hike compared to Koko Head, however, when we finally reached the Ice Ponds I was once again surprised  this time by the danger of the hike up the waterfalls. The only way up the waterfalls was by climbing up the center of them, with the help of course of some tattered rope at some points. With some scary glitches along the way, and with the help of some friends made while climbing we made it to the top of the series of falls. There was a moment when we had reached the top, and all out of breathe, me and my friends looked at each other in amazement that we were still alive.Getting down was a whole different story, but for the sake of family members worrying about me, I’ll keep that for later.

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Overall, it was a beautiful weekend filled with *attempting* to surf, roof-top’ chillen, slippery rocks, and new friends showing us the true Ohana spirit.

Here I am.

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Sitting here in my loft I am constantly reminded of where I am in life, I can hear the constant flow of the stream below me and the lights of those still awake in Manoa above in the hills. And this night is just like the rest, whether it be the wind blowing through my open window or my shanty fan attempting to keep my bed cool, I remember that where I am is different than where I was. Back home the Minnesotans are bundling up for fall, and they have been anxiously waiting for the glorious moment when they can wear their sweaters and leggings, warm up with pumpkin spice lattes, and wake up to a cool breeze and frost on the ground. Although it would be inhuman for me to dislike fall weather, I can say with certainty that fall has never been kind to my spirit. With the turning of leaves comes saying goodbye to fond memories and people and uneasy transitions into new ones. Until now. Whether it be the tropical weather of Oahu, or the aloha spirit of the people, for the first time in a long time instead of me watching the leaves change I am seeing a change within myself. I’m learning what it means to love God again, to embrace the beauty that each human has, and to have passion for the present and hope for the future. I have never been eloquent in speech, but   for most likely the first time, I am offering up my words voluntarily; for those willing to listen I hope this text explains where I am now, my life on the island, and the beauty it has in store for me.