To kick off 2019 in the right fashion we headed out to the lava fields. Part of it was to show the boys the power of volcanoes and lava. The other reason was to re-live some of our favorite memories from our last trip to Hawaii. What we found was that everything changes through time, even rock.
We first headed to a lava field to show the boys where the lava went right over a road and cut it off. We wanted to show them the area we hiked to see lava pouring into the ocean. The lava stopped over four months ago, but the area around it was pretty amazing. What we found instead of the five foot high swath of hardened rock was a road… with houses on it. Where there had once been land, then houses, and then lava was now once again inhabited by man. It was amazing to see roads cutting through and on top of the lava to use what appeared to be unusable land. We were still able to drive further ahead to show the boys the lava fields but it was the first of many changes since we’d been here almost six years ago.
When we were here back in 2013 Becky and I fell in love with the Champagne Ponds, a natural wonder of bathtub temperature water surrounded by all types of sea life and protected from the ocean by walls of rocks. We were able to literally walk out of our house and into the water to snorkel and see turtles, eels, and fish. It was heaven on Earth, a true paradise.
At the beginning of this past June they were completely destroyed by lava flow. Pele took back what she’d created. What the volcano gave it took back in less than two days. The bay was completely filled in, the houses destroyed, the water boiled away, and every square inch was covered in lava.
Becky and I knew this before coming, but we still wanted to see it with our own eyes. There was something about seeing it on the news that made it not quite feel real and I knew that seeing it would help me really get it.
As we drove from the lava fields to where the ponds had once been the road ended long before it it was higher than the lava that had once cut off the other road we’d been to earlier in the day. This wasn’t the normal way to get to the ponds, but my heart already felt like it was starting to break.
We drove along the other route and as we reached a corner we remembered driving so many times in 2013 we saw this…
We couldn’t even get close to the actual area, but here it was, the entry to paradise, blocked by lava. All we could see beyond it was black shimmering rock.
Later in the day we had our big excursion for this trip, a helicopter ride over the volcanic areas. As we took of and flew clockwise along the coast I was enjoying all the green foliage separated from the blue ocean by cliffs of black rock. As we went around the corner my heart sank as I noticed something I was afraid I immediately recognized. Over the headset I asked the pilot, “is that the light beacon that’s right by Kapoho Bay?” His response matched my fears, “it was.”
Looking to the right of the light beacon where there should have been one of the most incredibly idyllic places I’ve ever experienced was a field of black rock. There was nothing but rock. No ponds, no plants, no green, no blue, no sea life, no houses… just black steaming rock. Everything we’d enjoyed and experienced at this location was erased from the face of the earth.
As the realization of the impermanence of the ponds hit me my eyes welled up and I just had to sit back and breathe. That punch in the gut is what I am most thankful for today. There were two huge realizations that I have been able to take away from this experience.
First, nothing is permanent. Everything will eventually change. I will die, my body and soul will change. There is nothing that I can do to stop it from happening. I have the choice to either be sad about the change or accept it, appreciate it, and learn from it. The only constant is change, and nothing is immune to it. In this case the change in the first place is what gave us the gift of the pools. The volcanic activity gave us the gift of the pools, the volcanic activity has destroyed the pools, the volcanic activity will create something else in the place of the pools. I can either be saddened by the change or I can be thankful for having experienced it in my lifetime… which brings me to point number two.
Much like when I lost my dad I realized that the reason loss hurts so much is because of the deep love I have for what was lost. How wonderful to have had the experience I had at the Champagne Ponds? How great is it that I was able to find such great joy in the wonders of nature? Of course I’d still like to have them around, but I’d rather have experienced them and lost them than to never have experienced them in the first place. The depth of the hurt reminds me of the depth of my love for them.
Today I’ve been reminded by the impermanence of everything, a reason to enjoy the present and milk every second of it for all that it’s worth. My heart aches for the loss of the pools by rejoices in the memories I’ve had flooding back of so many moments of pure joy in them. I’ll never forget swimming through a small break in wall, turning right, and almost running right into a turtle. I’ll always remember laying still and just watching moray eels open and close their mouths underwater, thinking about the old Hawaiian stories of how the eel is the wisest of all animals as they believed that knowledge was taken in with breath. I’ll always remember the smile on Becky’s face while snorkeling there. My heart will always fill with joy as I think back to sitting up on the deck overlooking the pools at night listening to the ocean. Today my heart hurts due to the loss of the Champagne Ponds, but it is full from the joy they’ve brought me so many times in my memories.
Live for today, enjoy the moment, live and love without fear of loss.