Trapped in Paradise with a Friend and a Donut


This one’s for the child in me. For the part of me that’s innocent, playful, downright youthful.

This was a day for the living with the learning. Life with the lesson. It doesn’t always have to be serious.

Life sure isn’t what I thought it would be.

And I’ve sweat my soul through my pores and pulled my heart straining for answers.

But I knew a whole lot more about living when I was a child than I know now.

Isn’t it funny how that’s true? “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these little ones.”


So, I found myself trapped in paradise.

How is that even possible? It’s paradise, I’m not supposed to feel trapped here.

But boy, have I ever.

Just one small island. No big city, no place to drive beyond these boarders, no coolness in the air.

I dreamt of these beaches and now they’re like the boundary lines that limit me from the world.

I used to think the ocean was the gateway to the heavens,

Now the waves are like chains around my ankles.

How does a girl feel so trapped wherever she goes?

Everything I take with me weighs more than I want to carry.

Because I’ve been crawling through darkness my whole life, and I long to run.

You can’t carry heavy stones and fly.


So, I found myself trapped here in the place I thought I would feel free.

And then, I found myself literally trapped in this paradise.


I stayed on the beach after sunset with a friend, and when we went to leave, they’d locked the gates.

There is no way to get your car out of the yellow double gates once they close.

There’s no number to call. No narrow path to squeeze through.

We just had to wait the night out on the beach until someone came to open the gates again in the morning.

We were trapped on the beach!

But, instead of longing to be free, I felt freed by those yellow bars.

I didn’t have what I wanted, but I had what I needed.

I had a friend.

We both had water. We had a bathroom. I had my car. We had our towels and swimsuits.

And I had a blowup floaty donut.


As we’d walked across the powdery sand to my car still thinking we could leave, I had said “I still need to camp on the beach here (in Hawaii).”

This was a dream come true.

Though I wasn’t exactly prepared or comfortable.

It was exciting. It was adventure. It was unexpected.

We pulled the car up and talked until we fell asleep.


I tossed all night, and as we slept and woke, my mind turned.

Everything’s a lesson with me; anything can be a metaphor.

I thought of being a child: how everything has wonder because you still carry it in your heart.

How everything has fullness and life because you still live for the very seconds in your hands.

What would I have done here as a girl?

I would’ve played until my body couldn’t play any longer.

I would’ve laughed until my belly hurt and my cheeks burned.

I would’ve spun in circles until I collapsed and the stars blurred as the sky turned in my dizzy head.


So, I got up and walked the edge of the sand and sea.

A giant sea lion had made his way onto the sand the day before, and he was still there in the earliest hours of the morning, snoring like an old grandpa.

I walked up close to his big belly and watched him nuzzle his face into the sand as if it was a cozy pillow.

He sneezed in his sleep and his flippers rubbed his eyes like the hands of a human.

I turned and walked over the porous and pointed lava rock dividing the beach between him and I.

The pre-dawn light was just starting to lighten the sky.

I threw my towel down and stretched my no longer five-year-old body.

The sun was starting to rise behind us, as famously pink and perfectly round as the Kona sun always is.

Laying on my back, I watched the clouds above me get spray-painted with the hues of first light.

The weather was perfect. Warm but not hot, with a light breeze and a salty mist as the waves curled over themselves beyond my feet.

My friend came and joined me.

The thing about living is it’s always better with others.


I got up and ran as fast as I could, tracing the line of foam all the way down the beach, playing my favorite game with the waves. Touch them and run before they get you.

By the time the sun came up, a few others must have parked on the other side of the gate and walked their way down.

Kids with boards came and rode the waves with their dad.

We decided to put our swimsuits on and blow up the donut.


The thing about the water here is it’s crystal clear and warm.

It’s everything you dream of when it comes to beaches and oceans.

We played and floated and hummed songs.

I searched for a shell in the water and watched the sand churn under the water like a windstorm of shimmering grace.


I guess, when you live present, you can turn what has felt like your prison into your play house.


When you enjoy where you are now, who you are now, who you’re with now –

You can just have fun without striving to be something or somewhere or somehow better.

You can laugh without fearing the future.

You can love and not let the unknowns steal your peace.

Children know secrets that we’ve forgotten.


So, what is my resolve?

I live in Hawaii Nei: Hawaii Now.

This place, this land, this paradise now.

Whoever told me I’m not enough as I am now is a liar.

Whoever convinced me I won’t ever be happy, feel alive like I did as a child, is a liar.

Whoever held me captive and scared me silent and screamed “You’re not free!!!”




These fears have lied to me.

I am already free.

I will live like it.


I will pray and I will play and I will learn to be fully alive in this life.

I will turn these prison walls into playful halls.

Life is for living.