Monday, October 6, 2014

E Komo Mai

Today my journey will span some 5,000 miles as I trek to a conference on the island of Hawaii. I make this trip with a bit of a heavy heart. You see, five years ago I went to this same conference, held at the same hotel, with my 11 year old daughter. That was the first time since my divorce that I could even begin to contemplate such a grand outing. It took every ounce of strength that I could muster to undertake a trip to a place that my wife and I had dreamed of going to together. Without her presence I struggled with feelings of depression and failure. The weight on my chest kept pulling me down with its should-haves, with its could-haves. I found myself unable to let sunshine penetrate my beclouded mind. Yet my daughter was relying on me to be strong and her energy and giddiness buoyed me. We ended up having an adventure that bonded us more deeply and gave us fond memories that have lasted through the years.

Today I travel alone without anyone to rely on me. Nobody was present to see me off and nobody will be awaiting me at the airport to welcome me back. I will be roaming the grounds of the hotel replaying all of the old memories that my daughter and I shared. I know that this will bring out old aches and feelings of helplessness and loneliness. I have found that in my years of traveling alone, I often let solitude serve as my companion. The presence of that life-sucking monster only makes the food bland, the air stale, and the breeze cloying. Yet it is I that tacitly invites him to come alongside.

When I told my daughter about my travel plans this week, it barely registered a reaction. I had expected her to recollect on our time there together or maybe even ask if she could go along with me again. Instead, she grunted at me and went about what she was doing. It is amazing how timing is everything. I am so glad that I took the opportunity that I had five years ago. If I had put that moment off, I am certain that we would never have shared an adventure anywhere near that same scale. Today and this week, I pray that I can find some level of enjoyment and contentment out on my own.