It took one helicopter, one humpback whale, a family of stingrays, a dormant volcano, a couple of waterfalls, few of world’s gigantic sea cliffs, and one man’s ultimate sacrifice to restore myself to my default settings on the beautiful island of Maui.
I felt at complete peace when I stepped out of the noisy helicopter on a beautiful sunny morning on the Hawaiian Island on my recent trip. The last thing I expected when I booked my helicopter tour to see the Molokai Island from air was for Nature to put together a perfect recipe of its elements to remind me that I could do better in restoring my default settings. Going on a helicopter tour was a last minute plan but most of the times, these are the plans that change you forever!
It is said that West Maui is the home to one of the wettest places on earth and I wanted to witness that. The helicopter pilot who was also our tour guide flew us – a small group of 6 strangers to watch some breathtaking sights that awaited us. During the tour we came across the “Wall of Tears” that included more than 17 waterfalls. I also saw Maui’s tallest waterfall, the 1,100 feet tall “Honohohau Falls” up close. Later, we also flew above the 1,170-foot Kahiwa Falls, which is Hawaii’s tallest waterfall. Our skilled pilot flew us so close to the waterfalls that I did not realize I was holding my breath for a long time. I was flying right above one of the tallest waterfalls in the world and seeing it drop down right below me.
If this wasn’t enough, he then flew us above the towering sea cliffs. Molokai has the tallest sea cliffs in the world and there is nothing like them. I could not believe that man and his technology had come so far that we could actually reach higher than the highest points of the world. Amidst the sea-cliffs was a family of stingrays serenely floating in the turquoise blue water. Even before I could let my heart melt over the magnificent stingrays, I saw the tail of the largest mammal on Earth right below me. It was a humpback whale gliding majestically in the transparent waters. I couldn’t believe my luck! I was slowly absorbing everything that was happening around me. The helicopter tour had started taking a different turn for me. My heart had switched gears from that of a tourist to a spiritualist. A few tears rolled down my cheek. My heart overflowed with love for these beautiful sea creatures.
The helicopter then moved on to fly over the Kalaupapa Peninsula, which for a long time served as a prison for people affected with leprosy before a drug was found to treat this disease. The Kalaupapa Peninsula on the Molokai Island has a very touching history about how the lepers were brought to this isolated island and abandoned to die. Our final in-air stop was Father Damien’s monument. Father Damien was a saint who moved to Molokai at a young age to serve the lepers. He served them for many years until the disease consumed him.
The tour was coming to an end. We flew back over Western Maui Mountains, which are made of an extinct volcano and the 10,000-feet Haleakala Crater, which is a dormant volcano. We slowly descended while still watching the vibrant green valleys and the tropical rainforests. Although, it was the helicopter that was coming closer to the land, it felt more like my ego was descending within me. My settings were being restored to the default mode. We landed. The six strangers didn’t seem like strangers anymore. We had all been through one of the most beautiful experiences of our lives together. We were not the same anymore.
Later in the day, I took a walk on the beach. The sand under my feet had never felt so soft and the sound of the waves had never been so revealing. I sat down watching some distant sailboats and let tears roll down my cheeks.
I cried because once again I had come face to face with myself in my spiritual journey. They were happy and sad tears at the same time. I realized the power of Nature during the helicopter ride. The tallest waterfalls, tallest sea cliffs, the biggest mammal on the planet, the volcano, and finally Saint Damien’s ultimate sacrifice made me feel very small and insignificant. The vastness of the sea below me showed me where exactly I stood in the grand scheme of things. It made me feel that I was a nobody and for the very first time in my life, it felt good deep inside to feel like a nobody. It felt liberating. It felt like a burden had been lifted and I was feeling pure once again.
Exactly at my age, almost 150 years ago, Father Damien had left everything and moved to the remote and isolated Molokai Island to serve the lepers. And here I was touring the island in a cool helicopter watching his monument from air, at the same age when this man was already fulfilling his spiritual destiny by helping the people who nobody wanted to touch, see, or even think about. If I were feeling small before, this realization made me feel even smaller. This was a wake up call!
Don’t you think we are smaller than the smallest dot in the universe? Then how can such tiny human beings like ourselves have the egos that consume the entire universe and make us blind to what is Real? Why do we let our egos engulf everything around us in darkness? Why do we make such a big deal out of us in our own heads? Why do we take ourselves so seriously? Why is the “I” in us so important to us? What is the need to constantly control and conquer Nature? What does it even mean when I say that the helicopter was hovering above the tallest waterfalls and sea cliffs on the planet? Why did it create a feeling of greatness inside me to be above them?
I wiped my tears and continued sitting on the beach. I automatically began meditating and during the process, I realized that it was OK to be small. It was OK for us to not conquer everything and everyone that crosses our path. Even if we are a smallest dot in the cosmos, our souls know no boundaries and the love in our hearts knows no concept of space or time. It could transcend through it all and become bigger than the biggest.
According to the Business Dictionary, this is the definition of default settings, “Controls of a computer hardware or software (or of a device, equipment, or machine) as preset by its manufacturer. Some types of default settings may be altered or customized by the user.”
In our case, Nature is our manufacturer and our heart is the software. And this software is definitely not sticking to its default settings given to it by Nature. We have managed to alter our software’s default settings to meet the needs of our ego. Honestly, Love is the only default setting of our heart but we allow it to be engulfed in layers of ego. When ego leaves us, only love remains – the only default setting given to us from the time of creation. If we become Love, there is no need to become anything else. So how do we become love? An occasional helicopter ride and a humpback whale might enhance the process but there are no shortcuts to Love. 🙂 But Love is your shortcut to everything else! And meditation is the only key and the shortest and fastest route to your default settings.