The Good Life

I’m afraid of going home. Clad in layers of Sherpa wear purchased at an outdoor store to keep me warm and waterproof in Portland, I feel out of place boarding a plane bound for the Hawaiian Islands. While I’m homeward bound, excited visitors gather in flip-flops, shorts and aloha shirts, ready for adventure.

I arrived in Portland feeling similarly enthused, but the city’s cold breath knocked me into a tight shivering ball. My blood had thinned in the years since I last lived on the mainland, and it seemed nothing would warm my interior. My daughters drove me downtown, and I walked out of the shop with four layerable garments that, along with the warm socks and hooded rain jacket I had brought in my luggage, proved boon to the soul. I could now hike the misty trails above the city; marvel at the Craftsman architecture the town is well known for; pace tree-lined streets hung with vines and flanked with roses, flowering shrubs and raised bed vegetable gardens. Borrowing a Trek eighteen-speed, I bicycled into town and back; around Mount Tabor and the Hawthorne district. Being warm changed my perspective, as well as my attitude.

I’m on the plane now headed home, infused with the spectre of dread; a tiny background thing that lilts up and down like waves surging below the emerald and burnt sienna ocean cliffs near our home. I’d like to ignore the discomfort, yet it lingers. Is it shades of grief from my mother’s recent passing; from rejoining my beloved daughters and now having to leave them, yet again? How do mothers manage this distance, for it is a thing not easily reconciled, no matter the intervening years. What once abided within my own body surges further and further away like a toy the ocean pulls irretrievably out of reach and beyond, becoming a tiny speck in the distance and then gone: blazing rays of a setting sun pouring into the sea and flashing green as it slips below the horizon. I let go because I must; because their light must shine not only upon me, but on a world awaiting their sharing.

What the head conjures cannot ferry this troubled heart home. I will simply have to feel my way back to my own beloved half-acre of stewardship; to the peace and beauty on which we exchange paper and stake a claim. Earth sustains and nourishes; she grants precious birth and then slowly schools us to distance and eventually toward our demise. This growing and stretching; this holding tight and letting go is the nature of existence. Embracing paradox allows authentic happiness to penetrate the darkness of delusion, and I am ready to return to the good life, once again.


2013-05-25 19.04.56 2013-05-25 18.53.16 2013-05-24 15.39.48 2013-05-21 11.58.30 2013-05-21 11.58.11 2013-05-21 11.54.06 2013-05-21 10.48.27 2013-05-20 20.42.56

~ all photos copyright 2013 – Bela Johnson

5 thoughts on “The Good Life

    1. Rebbi, six months ago, Chris and I went back to the mainland to see if we could live there, just to be nearer to them. Neither of us was willing to give up the life (and Chris’ business) we have created for ourselves here on Hawaii island. And there would be no guarantee they would remain where they are! So why follow them around, just because we miss them? It would be unfair to all of us to place that kind of emotional burden at their feet. They might feel unduly obligated, and we would not be moving into the next phase of our own lives in a healthy and productive way. And so we see them when we can – sometimes here, sometimes there. Doesn’t mean it’s always easy …


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