Thumb closeup of sailboat Lausen Arts
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

en-MAUI-lightenment

Black and white scenic photograhy of a sailboat offshore in Maui
Published Title: Sailboat off a Maui Beach
Type: Digital Photography - Black and White
Description: Hawaiian Landscape with sailboat
Buy on poster print at Fine Art America

There was only going to be so many hours to explore...

…the historical town of Lahaina and our ship's tender felt like it was taking forever to get to shore. We seemed to be stuck: one bob up to the top of a wave, and then the second bob back down to the exact same spot we had started in. It was as if our engine had run out of fuel and our speed capacity was now based on two of the scrawniest seamen they could find for rowing us to land. However, despite impatience lurking around me, I could also feel the magic of the Hawaiian Islands blowing its famous 'laid-back' charm over my ruffled nerves and soothing me into a state of calm. Before I knew it, my body had relaxed easily into the rhythm of the boat and our progression just didn't matter anymore. The only thing worth doing at this point, was to wonder whether the magnificent West Maui Mountains, that were greeting us that morning, had offered the ancient Polynesians the same warm welcome – 'e komo mai'. [1]

Once we had landed at the dock, my newfound contentment was still very apparent, as I had no real desire to do anything. I clearly was under an island spell. Good think my traveling companion had some idea of what to do next, "Want to go over there and see that tree? It's huge!" To which I replied, "Sure, lesgo!" And no, I wasn't so mellow that I was slurring. As it turns out, I was speaking the lingo for, 'let's go', which I must have picked up by osmosis at the last island.

In what the residents called, Courthouse Square, was apparently one of America's, single, most one of a kind, banyan trees. First of all, it was huge. It stood approx. 60 feet tall and branched our an entire city block. [2] Wow! As a whole, it was hard to take in its entire physicality. Secondly, the air beneath this fig tree was not only cool and fresh, from the shade of its glossy green leaves, but it was also giving off an unusual sensation. No matter where I stood under it, I was experiencing some sort of effect. The only way I could describe it was, when I held out my hand, 'peace' felt like it was falling into it as gently as snow falling from a night sky on a winter's ever. I wondered to myself, "Is this what heaven felt like?" Such an extraordinary sense of safety and tranquility within its presence. No wonder the Buddha had chosen a tree like this to meditated his way into enlightenment. However, in-spite of its uniqueness, I also understood that this exact tree would not have been perfect for an extensive meditation that day. There were far too many busy bodies under this natural wonder to capture a still photograph, let alone sit still long enough to have the mind transcend into the world of Nirvana.

Now knowing that Maui definitely showed the potential for illumination, I wondered if the island contained yet another noticeable 'presence'. If I could just find it, I would be able to capture the location with my camera, print a tangible impression of it, and fulfill what every artist desires: to express the inexpressible. This would be a souvenir to treasure! So, with a heart full of promise, I was off to explore the rest of the day and hopefully discover another spot of sublime potential.

It didn't take long to realize that the path we were on, Front Street, was going to grab my attention and slow us down in more ways than one. There was everything to indulge in: from restaurants called 'Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.', to jewelry stores with displays full of precious Hawaiian black coral, to art galleries containing the local photographers' seascapes showing humpback whales breaching. The ego had definitely made its presence know, and if memory had served me right, when I resisted temptations in the past, under similar circumstances, some bazaar cosmic interference would occur and stall me even further. So, in order to appease it, I happily devoured some chocolate coated macadamia nuts and bought a plumeria flower for wearing over my ear. Getting past these worldly distractions and on to attaining my next photographic treasure as soon as possible was imperative, because in the short hours that lay ahead, I had a cruise ship destined for Honolulu to catch. They sailed on time, regardless if you're captured in a 'divine' island moment or not.

Finding the picture of peace was going to be harder than I thought. It wasn't because there weren't enough pictorial opportunities before me; the sights were postcard perfect and endless. No, it was because I wasn't feeling it – you know, deep down in the bones. "How was I not feeling peaceful? Maui of all places? How could that be?" my mind kept whirling. And it was beginning to whirl an awful lot with thoughts about the time ticking by quickly. So, knowing I wouldn't be back this way for a while, I captured as many shots as I could, and then headed back to our point of departure, all the while wondering what had gone wrong with getting the picture I had hoped for. I think it was due to more than what was meeting the eye – literally and figuratively. Little did I know that it was going to be back in my studio, some eight thousand kilometres away, before I would discover the answer to this mystery.

After my return home, I did what I usually do after a trip; proceeded with the labour intensive process of photo management. Each photo that was captured on the oceanfront setting of Lahaina was carefully reviewed. They were spectacular. The water was bluer than blue, the sky was bluer than blue, and every other tropical colour, under the sun, filled the open gaps. For sure the camera had done its job. But, had I? Had I captured one for my my medium of choice: black and white fine art photography. And had I also captured one that represented my inner perceptive of Maui?

As I pondered the collection I noticed that one kept calling me back to look at it. I didn't know why. It was a typical image of a yacht sailing off the shores of Hawaii. There were hundreds of these types of pictures already in the world, usually in colour and rightly so, as seascapes don't usually hold up to the demands of a black and white. However, once I started relaxing into it and playing with its effects, I started to see it had potential, and much to my delight I started to notice that it was coming alive in a totally different way. A bold and dramatic impression started to unfold. Wow! The clouds were intense and acutely contrasted against a mysterious sky. The ocean looked almost abstruse – who knew what was going on with it. Was there a wave secretly building momentum and getting ready to pounce? Were the tiny white caps foreshadowing a storm? Yet amongst all the shadows to softly unfold near the shore's edge, then dance its way over the water, where it gently landed on the white of the vessel's sail. As I paused and looked at this little spot of radiance, it seemed to me that the light had found them and had draped them in a state of harmony. And there it was – a spot of peace – the peaceful spot of illumination that I was hoping to find on my journey. It HAD been in Maui all along.

Why hadn't I seen this that day in Maui? Well, it was probably for the same reason most of us don't see the peace we're looking for. Many of us have been so conditioned to believe that its the effects of the physical world that affects us – bring us our frustration or our joys. I had quite a few built up perceptions I carried around that island: the Hawaiian magnetism had calmed my nerves, a banyan tree had played a role in the Buddha's enlightenment, a busy street and a sailing schedule had causing me to feel stress, etc... But, the fact of the matter is, those are just outside barriers blocking me from going inward to see the real cause. They were disempowering me from seeing peace in a whole different 'light'. It was 'in' me all along, I just could see it until I let my misperceptions go, then I could see the re-presentation of a moment on the pacific. The Buddha got it, "Peace comes from within. "Do not seek it without." [3] Guess that's why he's an Awakened One and I'm still asleep. However, thanks to this experience, I'm not a little more awaken too. I'll leave you with my personal thought that played over and over in my head during the processing of this image, "In the middle of it all, I will see through to light."

P.S. Did you know that peace is a synonym for the word pacific. Coincidence?

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