(IOriginally posted May 13, 2009)
My husband, Kim, and I decided to do a spur of the moment road trip last week. I had never driven over Saddle Road, here on the Big Island of Hawaii. Saddle Road is the highway that cuts between the two mountains here – Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. We thought we would take the leisurely drive on the back road to Waimea, and then over Saddle Road into Hilo.
I’m the planner in the family. Although the road trip was relatively spur of the moment for me (I would typically start planning a trip months in advance), I found a few spots I wanted to visit. I wanted to stop at the Mauna Kea Visitors Center and inquire about going up to the observatories. Let’s just say that 9000 feet is pretty high up. We were there too early in the day for star gazing, and we were not dressed for hiking the area. It’s definitely something worth doing if you are spending time on the Big Island.
We headed on into Hilo, and had plans to stop at the University of Hawaii/Hilo’s Astronomy Center and the Hilo Zoo, which we did. They were so-so experiences, but I had a headache and I don’t think I was in an appreciative mood.
Then we moved on to check into a hotel for the evening. We were pretty tried from all the driving and touring. We went to dinner at Ken’s House of Pancakes and then just returned to our room to crash. Next morning, we got up and had breakfast at the hotel, Castle Hilo Hawaiian.
Why am I sharing this basic non-story? Well, I didn’t take any slides, so I don’t have those to share with you. Just kidding…. For all the things we did that Thursday and Friday morning? Do you know what I remember most? Every one we had interactions those days with was rude. Well, rude may be a bit of a stretch, but they were far from pleasant and certainly not helpful. So not what I was expecting. My experience is that the people here in Hawaii are full of the aloha spirit, usually very kind and helpful.
Friday morning, while driving back to the Kona side of the island, I was pondering out loud, “What the heck was that experience all about?” I reviewed our interactions with the hotel desk clerks, the waitress at Ken’s House of Pancakes, the waitress at our hotel’s restaurant, and so on. We were kind and pleasant with them, not difficult customers. I thought we deserved better treatment. I wasn’t sure what purpose this interaction served.
Saturday, the experiences were still drifting in and out of my consciousness. A – I didn’t know why I was still thinking about this, and B – I didn’t want to dwell on it. I picked up the remote control and began flipping channels. I saw Larry King’s show was coming up, with segments including James Van Praagh, JZ Knight, Debbie Ford and Michael Beckwith. Okay, maybe listening to these great spiritual teachers will help either give me some insight, or let me cut loose the experience. One of the comments that was made during the show related to how we interact with others, especially when that interaction is fear based, rather than love based. Loved based experiences have the happy, joyful, good feeling to them. Fear based experiences are those that make us uncomfortable for some reason. When we have those fear based experiences (or any experience for that matter), we cannot control how others treat us or respond to us, we can only control how we respond. In most instances, we never know the back story of those we interact with. Maybe the desk clerk was at the end of her shift, and was tired, and trying to get home to her family. Maybe the dinner waitress had a headache or new shoes that hurt her feet. Maybe the hostess at breakfast just didn’t see us, and that was why she left us standing there for 5 minutes when there were lots of tables available. Maybe our waitress was slow to take our order, bring our food, and bring our bill because someone else had called in sick and she was waiting on twice as many tables. Maybe they all hated their jobs and this was the best they were able to do at the time we were with them. I’m such a fan of The Four Agreements and here I was ‘breaking’ one of them. I was taking things personally. These people were not being rude or short with me because of anything I had done or said. It was their own stuff – their own reactions to things going on in their lives, not me, that they were reacting to.
So, the only thing I could control about the experience was how I reacted to it. Do you think my experience may have had a better outcome if I had prayed for these folks, rather than griped about them? I do. Paraphrased from something James Van Praagh said on the Larry King program – Regrets are those thoughts which teach us to look for purposeful good in our mistakes.
Next time, I hope I remember this, and do better.
Oh, and by the way, the road trip was not a total bust. On the way home, we drove down to Pahoa and to the east end of the island. We stopped and visited the Lava Tree State Park and then drove down to the Ahalanui Park to experience the spring-fed pool, heated by volcanic rock. The drive itself was delightful – through lush tropical foliage, and the parks were great. Definitely worth a return visit!