In the presence of eternity, the mountains are as transient as the clouds.
~Robert Green Ingersoll
To see the unseen.
A few weeks ago, some friends and I traveled up to Koke’e to hike along the jagged cliffs of the Kalalau Valley. It was raining, notoriously not a good fit for a day of hiking. In fact the weather report cautioned for us not to go at all, but rain is common in that Valley and there have been plenty of hikes that have proven just fine once we arrived. So we packed our gear and went.
“Now, if anyone isn’t feeling the hike, let’s all acknowledge how we feel, so we stay safe,” my friend cautioned as the car swiveled her way up the mountain. He was answered with unanimous “uh-huhs;” however, when we arrived at the parking lot, all started to silently suit up. Flip flops exchanged for hiking boots. Short sleeves layered with rain jackets. We were all in tandem: today we hike.
The mists over the valley erased the valley to the naked eye. Tourists stood with fogged cameras, hoping to grasp a glimpse of its infamous splendor, while the Valley offered nothing less than a thick fog of cloud cover.
What we see depends mainly on what we look for. ~John Lubbock
We walked on the clilff’s edge, towering over magical green valleys, cloaked in the impenetrable mists.
And then it changed.
When the mists parted, we saw four waterfalls that were – to us – never before seen. The heavy rains had refilled the crevices of the mountain's rivulets. Abundance poured forth. And yet, to those still on the top of the mountain – these waterfalls were hidden, the veils did not completely clear. I stood with my four other hiking companions and thought: this is for us.
There is grandeur in solitude.
There is a choice in what you see.
I looked up at the mountain top, imagining a woman who had come here for the first time, disappointed that she was not seeing what she expected. I had been that woman. And I saw myself, in this moment - not attached (granted because I had seen this view on open days) to what I would see. In this perspective, I stood, counting waterfalls cascading down mountain faces of green opulence.
And then the mists returned.
Now I knew what was on the other side.
What is the difference when one sees the unseen? How does that function in our memory? How much does our positioning in life affect our perspective?
Are we in control?
Is it best to design for the best view? Is it best to be unattached? Is there a right or a wrong?
If you do not raise your eyes you will think that you are the highest point. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin