Man has always shaped his world… and has always been shaped by it. The world we live in is perceived by and held in our hearts by the quality and quantity of its physical and spiritual attributes. The earthly and celestial elements we hold dear can intrinsically alter who we are. We can absorb these characteristics in to our being and regard ourselves indistinguishable from them. We can become as abundant or as barren in our souls as we behold our world to be.
Equally, we bestow human attributes and emotions upon our world. We strive to humanize our world to make it our sanctuary and sometimes unknowingly, our hell. This creates an illusion which masks reality but can also create a reality that obscures the illusion. The determining factor one way or another is often the presence or lack… of love. If we mold our world out of love we can create an illusion which masks the reality of man’s selfishness and the world’s indifference. If we mold our world to suit our desires we can obscure the illusion of love and create a reality of emptiness.
The far northern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii is an idyllic paradise. From the moment man set foot on this rugged shore thousands of years ago to the present day, its inhabitants have revered its beauty and abundance. The Big Island, with its variety of physical and climatic zones, is divided into districts. The names of these districts were given by a people who were imminently bound to the land both emotionally and spiritually. These names were often passionately representative of the feelings they evoked in the people who lived upon them; none more so than the district of Kohala which means “cherished land”.
Rain falls here in copious amounts as clouds laden with moisture are driven in by the nearly ever present trade winds. The plentiful rain showers combine with ample amounts of warm tropical sunshine enabling every living thing to flourish and multiply in abundance. Open ocean swells break upon jagged rocks at the foot of cliffs that stand as fleeting barriers to a sea that wishes to reclaim what was once hers. Mountains that rise green and regal in the distance are a home to Gods and Mythical beings… and the memory of the cataclysmic events that shaped this land.
If there is a single distinguishing characteristic of Kohala which would define it for someone who had never had the opportunity to spend time there, it would be the wind. Strong trade winds from the northeast blow for weeks and sometimes months on end. During the summer these trade winds are a cooling respite from the heat and humidity of the tropics. During the fall and spring these breezes can either be a cooling relief or likened to a cold and wet blanket on a chilled evening. Their virtues alternating, not unlike a tempest child who can’t quite make up their mind which one to be. During the winter this child’s indecision gives way to certainty as these blustery winds grow to be downright chilling. Cold, grey and angry clouds scud by depositing their contents in a never ending procession until everyone and everything is cold, damp and miserable.
Occasionally though, a Kona wind will blow in from the opposite direction of the trades which will transform the winter’s chill and grey into a sultry radiance. There is a shimmering quality to this wind and the mood it conveys. The earth and sky take on a brassy metallic sheen and otherworldly appeal. Time slows as if to give everyone and everything the opportunity to realize this precious gift. At these rare moments one can justly feel they are living upon one of God’s favored creations and feel a divine presence, as if life, indeed the earth’s very spirit, were standing still… savoring a truly sacred moment.
At least once a year these Kona winds blow so fiercely as to topple age-old trees. A howling and sighing can be heard as the gusts rage and seethe through swaths of forest and crags of lava. The land and sky come to be alive and spiritually connected. The melding of the earthly and heavenly expressions gives rise to a singular voice that is vehement yet strangely melancholy. The vernacular of the wind lamenting the past and warning of the future in an ancient tongue few are old enough in their souls to remember. Those that are… listen intently.
Kohala is a district that exists as much an embodiment of man’s ideals as it does a physical location. A magnificent and timeless place whose moods are dictated and sanctity heralded by the whim of a zephyr. Kohala is a transcendent realm where a sacred shimmering wind speaks in whispers of sanctuary and in cries of purgatory. A wind that could perhaps be considered…the very breath of God.