A few weeks ago I was fortunate to get to spend a week on the island of Kauai with my family. Anyone who has spent time in Hawaii knows that it has got to be about as close to paradise as it gets. In fact I have to admit that the only time I’ve ever returned to my home in Santa Barbara and not been overwhelmed with gratitude for the beauty of my home city, was when putting it in contrast to my week in Hawaii. Throughout the week my family and I enjoyed many different activities from hiking, walking though amazing botanical gardens, chartered fishing trips, and we even did a helicopter tour around the island on our last day there. I’ve always been somewhat reflective and philosophical in my thinking, but my experiences throughout the week in paradise left me with a few life lessons I’d like to share. I hope you enjoy the reflections and the pictures.
1. Sunshine always follows the Rain.
There’s no way you can explore the island of Kauai without being blown away by the beauty of the island, the lushness of the foliage and the vibrancy of the earth all around you. However what you also experience is rain, all the time, and it comes at sporadic intervals all throughout the day. In fact Mount Waialeale on the island is one of the most rainy places on earth, they get approximately 450 inches of rain per year! Now I can say that I’m someone who has lived in very dry climates most of my life, Saudi Arabia, Texas, Arizona, California….and personally I must admit that I really dislike when rain spoils my plans or puts a damper on my day. However what was unique about the rainfall I experienced in Kauai is that the rainfall lasted a very short period of time and the sun was shining brightly right after it stopped. So though it might have been a little inconvenient for the time, we always knew that in a matter of minutes it was going to stop and the sun would be shining again.
This is so telling about how our lives work, we all go through seasons that are rainy and gloomy, seasons where things seem stagnant and unproductive. However a rainy day that keeps you cooped up inside is such an amazing time to read, to reflect, to journal and to gain insight from our past so we can then use those lessons to create a brighter future. However, what we all know is those rainy season don’t last and when they stop the sunshine is coming next. In fact it is the frequent rain that makes the island so incredibly beautiful because without it things wouldn’t be able to grow the way they do! Similarly in our lives we can’t fully appreciate the peak experiences of life if we haven’t been through those valleys, and we learn and grow and expand as people the most during hard and challenging times, not in periods of high achievement and success. So when the rain comes in your life, be patient, the sun will come out soon and illuminate the beauty that’s been there all along.
2. Our Circumstances in Life plus Labor yields the greatest Results.
One morning we got to explore a 10+ acre private garden someone had spent the past decade and a half cultivating. It was breathtaking. The diversity and beautify of everything on the property was mind-boggling, yet what made it extra incredible was to see the difference and contrast between the raw land and the finished garden, and the steps in between. Wow was it a sight to see. I was immediately reminded of a story Jim Rohn shares in one of his audio programs:
“A man took a rock pile and turned it into a fabulous garden. Somebody came and saw it and said, ‘You know, you and the good Lord have a fabulous garden here.” The gardener said, “I understand your point. But you should have seen it a few years ago when God had it all by Himself.”
Walking through these breathtaking gardens in Kauai was like an up close and personal lesson of what Jim Rohn was illustrating here. We all are given different lots in life, different sets up circumstances. However though that is not something we have control of, what we do with the circumstances God has orchestrated for our lives is all that matters. God has given us the seasons, the soil, the seeds, the plants, the rain, the sun; all of the ingredients necessary to create beautiful gardens in our lives, however we must combine this with our own labor, sweat, creativity and design to get the most out of it. The point is we must take what we have and work hard to get the most of it. Proverbs 13:4 says it best with such brevity and power:
Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper and be satisfied.
A work in progress…..
A 150 truckloads of rocks were used to create this terracing…..
Looks like paradise to me….
I wish these grew in my yard….
3. Suffering can be Prevented by taking wise advise….yet there can also be Beauty in our Suffering.
The day we went fishing was definitely one to be remembered. To say that I can be a bit stubborn sometimes is an understatement. When even my father who lives to fish and used to own a deep-sea fishing boat was putting on a Dramamine patch the night before our fishing trip, that should have been a great clue that maybe I should go ahead and use one too. However I did not, “I’ll be fine” I said, “I’m a tough guy and don’t get motion sickness” I thought, “I don’t need any silly medicine.” Boy was I wrong. On the hour-long boat ride out to the fishing spot I made mistake of sitting on the upper deck with the captain and I must say the view was out of this world. Watching the early morning sun rays burst out from behind the clouds and reflect on the ocean was truly a sight to see, yet that paled in comparison to seeing a rainbow so up close and personal it was like you could almost reach out and touch it!
After about an hour of absorbing the sights, the seasickness began to set in and I went to the lower deck and tried to regain my composure. Wow did I wish I had done what everyone else had done and used the patch. Right about the time I lost my breakfast over the side of the boat two of the lines went off almost simultaneously and my mom and dad jumped and started reeling in a couple gorgeous Wahoos. As miserable as I was, seeing their enthusiasm and victory was awesome, and I did enjoy the delicious meal from their catch later that night. Anyone who has been seasick knows it is about one of the worst feelings in the world and enduring it for 3 more hours was not something I was excited to do. However a few hours later when the captain asked if we wanted to extend the trip for another hour or two and I was asked how I was doing, I couldn’t help but reply “I don’t want to spoil ya’lls fun, whatever you want to do.” And another hour we stayed.
What did I learn from this experience? First – taking advise and following the lead from others that have more experience in something that you do can prevent unnecessary pain and suffering. Secondly I realized that there is always beauty that can been seen through pain, and those glimpses of splendor can make the trials all worth it. The gorgeous sights and seeing the enjoyment of the ones I love made it all worth it. Yet I must admit I was very, very happy to be back on solid ground.
4. Seeing the Bigger Picture can make Everything more Beautiful.
Probably one of the most awe-inspiring things we did on the trip was take a helicopter tour around the island. I must say that it was quite a sight to see. The breathtaking and magnificent views…..the diversity of the landscape….wow it was gorgeous. The waterfalls and ocean views, the canyons and mountains were a marvelous sight to see. What was extra impressive was seeing so many of the places and locations we had visited throughout the week, to remember what they looked like up close and personal and then to see them from such an elevated perspective made a dramatic impact on me. I realized that beauty is something that can always be enjoyed up close, yet things can be even more astounding when looked at from a higher vantage point. I realized that life is the same way, sometimes we ‘can’t see the forest through the trees’ as the expressions goes. When we are up close in the mix of the circumstances and events of our lives we can become blinded to the bigger picture, we can cease to see the beauty right before our very eyes.
I believe that every thing happens for a reason and a purpose and it serves us in some way, we just have to find out what that purpose is. We have to see the bigger picture. So many times in life we can get so frustrated with the day in and day out when thing seems stagnant. We can also easily slip into a state of depression and even hopelessness or take on a victim mentality when things don’t go our way and hardships fall upon us, yet we must remember that the story isn’t over yet. Hindsight is always 20-20 and more often than not in life as time passes we can see that many times the things that seemed like setbacks are really just setups for something greater. It can be very hard to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture especially when what is right up in our face can seem like such a jumbled mess at times, yet the beauty is alway right in front of our eyes. God can turn those tests into testimonies, he can make the mess into our message. We can go from being depressed victims to empowered victors. We must always remember that though we can’t always see things from a higher perspective, God always can, and He always knows what he is doing. Have Faith. When the timing is right you will see the beauty and perfection in all the seemingly illogical chaos and you will be humbled with the love our Creator has for us and the marvelous way He wove the tapestry of our lives to get us where he wanted us to be.
I hope you enjoyed the post, the thoughts and the pictures. Please share you feedback, comments and insight in the comments below and share the post if you enjoyed.
May God Bless you Always,