From the place where you leave your kayak to the foot of Opaekaa Falls there’s a forested walk of about half an hour. The trail winds between the medieval roots of giant koa and baobob. Black boulders have been tumbled here and there by an ancient eruption. Unseen akikiki call from the canopy, and red junglefowl scratch in the underbrush. On the path there are fellow-travellers coming back from the falls. Others, going the same way as I, linger, while yet others, perhaps more professional walkers, dash on by.
It’s a dream of solitude. In the close jungle you can’t see far ahead or behind. The path just takes you. You trust its knowledge. The path has history. The Menehune, ancient dwarves of Kauai who only travelled or worked at night, came this way for celebration, initiation, sacrifice.
Finally you come to the falls. From high above the misty water cascades lightly into a deep and dark pool. Ferns and lanai hang down. A rainbow you can almost touch circles the falls and disappears down into the water. Weary travellers spread themselves on the sunny rocks beyond. Others cool off in the mysterious pool. Some are in and around the dancing water-veil and within the rainbow itself. The water is cold. Some stand on the rocky edge and dare not go in. Some test the pool. Others leap with ignorance and abandon, interfering with the magic.
Treading water, I move steadily toward my rainbow. Wherever I go, it goes somewhere else. When I think I’m in the place where my rainbow ends, I can no longer see my rainbow.
PS: “The harder you chase something, the faster you go and the less you’re able to let life meet life. If you’re having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down.” (Natalie Goldberg)
Esoterica: It would all be less interesting if there was no mystery. Some of us do not care to ask the questions. Others among us know that the questions will remain unanswered. “Life is hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.” (Willa Cather)
This letter was originally published as “Into the rainbow” on February 5, 2002.
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“Creativity exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else.” (Natalie Goldberg)