Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Kauai definitely carries a special kind of energy - you'd have to be dead not to feel it. (I've heard even the most 'un-hippie' of tourists comment on it.) This has undoubtedly helped my artistic practice above and beyond what I had thought possible. This energy is reflected in the way people conduct themselves and their lives here, and has resulted in some deep internal state changes in my own being. While I was expecting some evolution, I wasn't fully aware of are the wonderful changes that would come with (a) the shift from city life to island life and (b) whatever magical power the 'aina (land) holds here. The changes are so deep I have literally felt my whole physiology changing. One of the most profound shifts has been in the way I am able to carry myself: I feel safe here. People are truly kind to each other (in general). Strangers smile at you and drivers always let you merge. People look you in the eye. Greet you warmly. Know you by name. They take that extra moment to stop and share aloha and genuine interest in how you are doing. I know that if I forget my phone somewhere, it'll still be there hours later, or someone will have kept it safe for me until i return. New people are noticed and warmly welcomed here (for the most part). I certainly have felt welcome beyond what I could have possibly expected. Most importantly, I know that if I need help, someone will be there, without me even having to ask. 

Initially, my inner cynic chalked this 'niceness' up to a small population necessitating accountability for for one's actions. After all, if you act up, everyone knows who you are... But I quickly realised it's about a lot more than that. By contrast, there's an element of humanity that is somewhat necessarily masked in big cities: openness, kindness and trust often fall by the wayside in favour of self-preservation. It's not like that on a small island of 60,000 inhabitants. (This seems obvious, but perhaps the subtle yet profound effects are less so. They weren't to me at least.) 

Reflecting these external changes came the subtle but deeply profound shifts in my internal state, which are manifest in my pace, sleep, mindfulness and overall health.  I move more slowly and think more carefully. I stopped locking doors. I greet people in the street, at the gym, in grocery stores. I may or may not even know them. I can feel what my body needs to nourish itself and the amount of sleep it wants. The city takes so much energy to navigate and I've known for a long time that I have had serious blinders on to cope with all the stimulus. As such, I'm not as open to people and experiences around me and it's much harder to listen, not just to the goings on around me but to my gut feelings and intuition as well. I shut down the more sensitive parts of myself that harbour the deepest awareness of what I need...and not only that, but they also hold my deepest sense of creativity and passion. As much as I genuinely do miss Vancouver, my friends and my family there, my body, heart and soul feel deeply at ease outside of the city; "adapting" to life here felt more like coming back to what feels right, normal and healthy. Perhaps it's time to say goodbye, big gritty...and explore a life closer to what nature had intended upon my return to BC at the end of June. Sunshine Coast? Whistler? Tofino? It's fun to dream. I just need to pack up friends and family in my suitcase and away we go!

Mary Pines