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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 3, 2002

Waikiki, at sunrise, restores spirit

By Linda Tagawa
Special to The Advertiser

My work consumes most of my waking hours. And every year more and more tasks choke out the things I love to do: swimming in the ocean, lying on white sandy beaches, drawing and painting, reading and writing.

Once in a while, I am jolted into the realization that I've pushed aside all the things I love for work, work and more work. Recently I had one such wake-up call.

The meeting was to be in Waikiki. So, on that morning, I left my house way before the sun rose..

Half the city was still sound asleep when I pulled into the empty parking lot. I browsed through the hotel lobby, glanced into glittery windows, read the morning paper and, just when the sky turned charcoal gray, walked toward the beach.

I stood on the rock wall gazing out at the sea. "The last time I left a trail of footprints in the sand here was a year ago, at the last conference," I recalled. "Funny how it takes a meeting to bring me back to a place I love.

"Swoosh!" I heard the waves rush toward the sandy beach. Then a big black wave crashed with a smack into the wall on my right. "Splash!" It shattered into millions of tiny droplets that rose above my head and floated down softly all over me. I shivered, slipped off my shoes and ran down to the beach.

The soft sand squished between my toes, and both heels sank down as gentle waters lapped around my ankles. I stood motionless, recalling my childhood, when I would watch my feet sink deep into the wet sand until only stumps of legs could be seen.

After a while, I looked up. In just those brief moments, the sky had turned a light gray. The ocean waves were no longer black; instead they had changed into shades of shimmering blues and greens. Now I could actually see the waves surge toward the sky, until they could reach no higher, curl their white crests and crash toward shore. I stood in awe, just as I once did as a youngster.

A soft, pale blue swept across the entire sky like a delicate, silk veil. There was not a cloud in sight.

I began noticing surfers sitting on their boards way, way out, near the horizon, bobbing up and down like corks in the ocean. And when a wave swelled, the surfers quickly stood on their boards and glided along the foamy crest, leaning to the left and then to the right.

I reminisced about my long, teenage summer days. Oh how I relished riding the long boards with the beach boys, day in and day out. I took a long, deep breath and held it as long as possible, clinging to those memories.

By then, the sun had risen over the top ridge of Diamond Head. The warm rays reached down and touched the ripples along the shoreline. I continued walking, when suddenly two children ran right in front of me and stopped. They dropped to their knees and began digging deep into the monstrous crab holes, hoping to find one with big pinchers. That scene triggered memories of childhood summers at our family's campsite. I still recall digging into the deep, secret crab tunnels late at night.

I checked my watch. It was time. I turned and strolled back to the hotel, stepping into footprints still set in the sand. The waves swooshed up onto the sandy shoreline and erased them. Old memories faded away.

I dusted the sand from my bare feet, took in a last deep breath of the salty air and resolved, "I'll never again put aside the things I love for 'stuff' to do."

No longer will I say, "Maybe next month ... next year." I had lost sight of how inspiring the ocean was in energizing me and restoring my spirit.

And so, on Jan. 1, during the early morning, I took a quiet shoreline drive down to the beach, swam along with the turtles and lay in the sunshine. I have begun to do things I love, bringing a sense of balance, harmony, beauty and peace into my life, so I can continue to be the person I was meant to be.

Linda Tagawa's column appears on the first Sunday of each month.