The flight from Seattle to Honolulu was a long one, finding me deep in thought embracing feelings of anger, guilt, shame and fear of the unknown. No doubt it was my fault, if fault was the right word, for my current situation.
If I harbored feelings of guilt about my life and where it was all going, I had no one to blame but myself. Guilt and blame, what a pair to draw to! We've become a nation who has built a Taj Mahal to these two emotional cripplers! Don't know about you, but I sure could do without them!
As I was experiencing a plethora of ambivalent feelings, I was well aware of the fact that I had created them. I had created my own destiny. I had made the choice to "sell all I had and follow Him"; to go to Maui with just the clothes on my back and not a penny to my name and no place to go when I got there.
I was a stranger in a strange land, and yet, I also knew there was no turning back now! I knew full well that when I got off the plane at Kahului, Maui--my last stop--there would be no relatives, no friends, no loved ones to greet me and throw their arms around me and say, "Michael, it's really good to see you, welcome to Maui! Our home is your home!"
There would be no beautiful, young Hawaiian lady (wahinee) to put a colorful and fragrant lei around my neck and gently kiss me on the cheek and welcome me to the Island. There would be none of my friends from back home like Adam Halloway, who was now in India.
The friendships I had made at WSU with Maggie and Nicole Long and Ralph Jackson--they wouldn't be there to greet me and lend me comfort and companionship. My only friends, my traveling companions--would be the books in my backpack and the faith in my heart....
My fate I had placed in the hands of the Gods. How scary and yet how timorously but magically liberating! For the first time in my young adult life, I would be getting to know what it was really like to live in the present moment, in the here and now, from day to day, from meal to meal, always wondering in awe and in anxious anticipation--what would happen next?
I kept thinking of that line from one of Bob Dylan's songs, "Like a Rolling Stone," when he sings, "When you got nothin', you got nothin' to lose, you're invisible now you got no secrets to conceal. How does it feel?" And that about summed up my untenable, homeless predicament.
But make no mistake, I had chosen homelessness and a life of material poverty because I could. I was well aware of the fact that most of the world's population had no such choice; they were born into poverty and were forced to make do with the cards that life had dealt them.
Still, I kept thinking and wondering to myself, had I become a failure? Did I let my parents, my teachers, my friends, my town, and my country down? Had I become the "LooooZer" that I and my friends used to "snicker" about as we self-righteously pointed our fingers in shame and disgust to those whom we thought fit the definition?
Here I was, with a puny degree in Philosophy, with no job, no money, no friends, no "future"; a real "nowhere" man who had been very critical of his people back home in Walla Walla, of his education, of the politics of his country, of just about everything and everybody. Had I betrayed everyone's trust, including my own?
At WSU had I flirted way beyond the limits of "moderations dark side," partying and taking too many psychedelics and other drugs and now it was time to "pay the piper," to "reap what I had sown?" Was it 'payback' time, time to do penance?
Had my protesting at college against the War in Vietnam, against racism and against human and environmental abuse made me a radical, bummed-out, burned-out, no-good, no-account, long-haired hippie seeking refuge and solitude in quieter places from the noises inside my mind?
Had I become society's space-out "Monday-morning quarterback" (you know, the one everyone loves to hate), sitting on the sidelines of life, poking fun at the social games that we Americans were playing, hurling stones of cynicism and contempt without providing any solutions to the problems I had identified and for which I was so angry and critical?
Or was my anger misplaced? Was I really angry with myself for not "measuring up" to the standards of success for which my society had groomed me and was trying to teach me through their system of education? Was I mad at myself for choosing "the road not taken," for choosing a path in life apart from the norm?
My friends (I mean, acquaintances) who had just graduated with their degrees in business and marketing were, no doubt, wearing their three-piece suits to their plush new jobs, driving their new toy cars to their "two-to-four cocktail" lunches. They had found their truth.
Still, who was I to criticize their life-style just because I had chosen to dress simply, hitchhike and "bum" around the country searching for my own truth. After all aren't we all "mentally challenged" in different ways? So what if it took me a little longer than most to find those truths for which I was searching. Why was that such a big deal?
I kept wondering, instead of "hanging in there" and trying to find the answers to the social ills of the times, was my journey to the "garden", to Maui, really just a cop out? Did anyone really care about me; about the mental and emotional suffering that I was going through? (You know how it is; everybody has to show you his or her own pain!).
Would I be a blessing and a contribution to my society, to the world? Would I make a decided difference in making our planet a better place for others to live, or was I predestined to become a wretched leech, a mooch, a wandering vagabond, a LoooZer beyond LoooZers, a failure of all failures ... society's miscarriage? I guess it depends upon whom you ask.
And, right now, I was asking myself, and I wasn't feeling very positive about the answers. As I flew over the Pacific Ocean toward my destination, I embraced this emotional roller-coaster of "up-and-down, back-and-forth" thoughts--these questions about myself. And I couldn't stop them no matter how hard I tried. That was my dilemma.
I knew that no matter where destiny would lead me, my continuing education would rest in answering, at least sufficiently unto myself, those questions, which had brought me to Maui in the first place. Still, I felt the butterflies of fear in the pit of my stomach.
It was that fear, those questions, and more, which caused me my pain. Questions, which kept tugging and pulling me toward the unknown, toward ... God? Christ? Krishna? Buddha? Toward yoga and meditation? toward ... Love! I could hear the voice of Jesus echoing within, "Pick up your cross and follow me."
"This is your captain speaking. We will be making our descent into Honolulu in approximately 20 minutes. Please place your trays and your seats in the upright position and fasten your seat belts. We hope you have enjoyed flying with United and we hope you will enjoy your stay in Hawaii."
The voice on the intercom quickly interrupted my catatonic stupor of conflicting thought long enough for me to snap out of it and watch our descent as we landed at the Honolulu airport. Within 30 minutes after landing, I was on board a smaller plane, Aloha Airlines, heading off to Maui. This was it; the drama was about to unfold.
I landed in Maui just about high noon. As I disembarked from the plane, heading up the ramp into the Kahului airport, I thought; "What the hell am I doing here? What's going to happen next? What kind of shit did I get myself into?"
On the flight to Maui I discovered from a passenger and resident of Lahaina (Lahaina is a tourist town located on the Southern and warmer side of Maui) that Kahului, the town not far from the Kahului airport, was located on the North side of the island. I only mention this because the northern side of Maui was known as the "wet" and "cooler" side of the Island. I didn't know it right then, but most of my stay on Maui would be living on the northern, rainier side. I would find some truth in the maxim that "into each life a little rain must fall."
However, at the moment, the weather was anything but wet and cool the day I arrived. From my window seat I could see a vast blue ocean of sky with aqua white-capped waters below set against the brown-white beaches of the Maui winding-coastal sands and a lot of palm trees ... quite different from the rolling wheat fields of Walla Walla and Pullman, Washington.