It’s a day I still think about with no less wonder and awe – the easy unfurl of symmetrical perfection. What did it all mean?
Here’s what happened in Waikiki, Hawai’i, on September 29, 2012.
I wake up and in the first few minutes of just lying there, à propos of absolutely nothing, I remember a scene from the movie ‘Kill Bill, Vol. 2.’
It’s a wedding rehearsal, where the pastor introduces Samuel L. Jackson to Uma Thurman and her groom as, “Rufus, he’s the man.” As in the man to play the wedding song. Whereupon Jackson laconically lists all the musicians he’s played with who’ve passed through Texas. When he finishes, the pastor says, “Rufus, he’s the man.”
I enjoy re-living the black and white scene’s sly humor and tight scripting, then I turn the page in my mind and get vertical.
It’s a Saturday, which means Farmers’ Markets, and that’s where I am soon after my morning ablutions. I purchase tropical fruits and Chinese vegetables, then stop at Sammy’s sugarcane stall for a chat and a few laughs. It’s how I usually end my shopping.
Today Sammy and I discuss Mitt and Trump and politics and racism. Originally from Guyana, Sammy talks about black and white issues in both the West Indies and New York – the latter his home for fifteen years before North Shore, Hawai’i. We laugh when he mentions his Rastafarian son skiing in Colorado and “white people, they’re not sure if he’s a mirage or real as his dreads float past in the powder.”
At one point I say, “Kill them before they grow,” referencing the lyrics in Bob Marley’s legendary song, I Shot the Sheriff, and Sammy nods, “Yeah, exactly mon!”
Back at my studio I work, then in the early afternoon I head to the beach for my swim. I pick the same spot as yesterday, when it had gotten so late I’d feared I’d miss my daily fix of liquid blue.
I spread my towel, take off my T-shirt and dive in. I swim, splash, float, frolic. I loll in the turquoise shallows. I am joy!
A song floats slowly on the breeze. It sounds familiar, and with some surprise I realize it’s Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’ An outdoor band is playing it at the nearby Hilton Hawaiian Village. Wondering if I should walk over, I stand up.
Then, for some unknown reason, I say to to the gal sunbaking near me, “They’re good, aren’t they?” The gal squints up at me. “The band,” I say, “they’re good,” and I point, thinking maybe she doesn’t speak English, Waikiki being so cosmopolitan.
She keeps looking at me, then suddenly props onto her elbows. “Were you here yesterday?” she asks.
I’m startled, and my reply sounds like a question, “Yes?”
“You were wearing a pink shirt?”
“You swam, then came out and did some stretches?”
“Yes, that was me,” I say. “It was kinda late.”
“Oh my god!” she shrieks. “I saw you yesterday.” She scrambles to her feet. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again! I watched you, and then I went home and told my husband, ‘I saw someone today who reminded me of what I used to be like, what my body used to be like, how fit and healthy I was. She inspired me,’ I said to Kirk. You inspired me,” she says to me. “Thank you,” and extends her hand. “I’m Debbie.”
Debbie tells me she was a fitness instructor with her own business. Then she contracted multiple sclerosis and her life changed. Dramatically. Her strength began to disappear; one morning she woke up to find herself partially paralyzed; she became blind in one eye, then in the other eye. The afflictions were plentiful and they all sounded horrific. But she managed to overcome a lot, and her spirit remains visibly alive and positive.
“I came to Hawai’i to heal,” says Debbie.
“Me too,” I exclaim. “Last year I came here to heal myself. In the ocean.”
“Me too! Exactly the same,” she says.
I remember her now from yesterday, and tell her so. “I was behind you coming out of the water, and I thought, that’s a strong woman, there’s just some extra padding. But I saw the physical power in your body. It’s still there.”
“That’s exactly it! The padding. I can’t seem to get rid of it,” she cries.
“The strength is there,” I repeat. “I see it.”
We discuss exercise, yoga, emotions, metaphysics, meditation, prayer, nutrition, ocean healing … and our conversation is punctuated by Debbie’s, “Look, I’m getting goosebumps,” because there are so many points of synchronicity. It’s amazing, unbelievable and beautiful.
Dusk is now upon us, but before we part, Debbie says, “You know what? When you left yesterday, you skipped away. You actually skipped!”
I laugh. “That’s so weird. Yesterday was the first day I skipped. I’ve had back and pelvic misalignment issues for two years now. I used to be so carefree and athletic. I loved sports, it was a huge part of my life, and suddenly that was all gone. I’ve been trying to heal myself, and I discovered that skipping may help strengthen the hip bones. So I tried it for the first time yesterday.”
“Goosebumps,” repeats Debbie. “Your skipping, your body, your stretching, all of it was so inspirational to me.” She gives me a warm long embrace.
Back at home, I’m still marveling at the encounter, the mysteries of perception and the impact, often unknown to us, we have on strangers.
I fix myself a light meal, sit down with my bowl, and turn on the television. The screen flickers awake to a black and white wedding scene, to the moment when the pastor is saying, “Rufus, he’s the man.”