LETTER: There’s Something About Hawai‘iJune 12, 2019, 8:01 AM HST (Updated June 12, 2019, 8:01 AM)
There’s something about Hawai’i.
Of course, there’s the tacky, touristy, pricey side, but this is an island with many faces. It’s one of the ‘other’ faces that startles me.
This is a place of extremes; of temperatures, altitudes, weather, people, prices… and more. Controlling all, it is primal… almost primordial. Living on an as-yet unfinished island treats us to what that really means. Volcanic dust, as fine as talc, clings to all surfaces, even vertical and inverted. The winds roar across the craggy lava fields, starting as smooth, laminar ocean flows and becoming turbulent and wild. At times these winds bring the trace scents of the volcanic emissions, hinting at how earth might have smelled during the earliest times of its creation. We feel the ground tremble and sometimes, hear it.
The five-star attractions are an anomaly. Seen from the air, they are in astonishing contrast to the island as a whole. Vibrant green intruders on dark and hostile lava. Hawai’i is not what it seems and certainly not what the department of tourism insists it is. We are living (sometimes precariously) on a rumbling cap perched on an enormous magma chamber reaching deep into the mantle of our earth. The mass of the last eruption alone (approaching perhaps a trillion tons) enough to affect the earths wobble. As if the loss of seven hundred homes and displacement of thousands of people was not enough, the world watched and became fearful. We should concentrate on what we must do here and say to those who watch. There is no rug large enough to sweep this under.
Time to put aside our foolishness and focus. The water must flow, the buses must run, the power must operate and those who live here must be able to stay. And we must learn how and when to say no, even to ourselves, even when it hurts. There’s more than enough heaven here to make it worth fighting the hell that’s on the flip side of the coin.
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