Friday, March 9, 2012

Grieving a lost dream

Anyone who has a home on the Big Island of Hawaii or who is even a mild Hawaii fanatic knows about "Lava" Jack.  We went to Hawaii on our honeymoon in the 90's and once we did, we found our second home.  When we saw lava for the first time, we became certified lava freaks.  In 2001, we found ourselves alone in a lava field for 3 hours watching the volcano goddess, Pele show off some of her finest work.  We read up quite extensively on safety around lava from items to take to watching for flows sneaking up on you to getting gas masks so we could breathe during a white out.  We made an offering and a finger from a flow going downward reached out to the left and claimed our offering.  From that point on, the lava increased quite a bit.  To say it was mesmerizing was an understatement.  It immersed every sense.  The bright glow of the lava, the undeniable smell that was a mix of sulphur and finger paint and the sounds of molten lava covering hardened lava.  It sounds like a roaring wood fire with the occasional plink of glass flaking off and shooting into the air from the heat.

We knew about Lava Jack and we rooted for him.  He finished his home the day the volcanic eruption began in 1983.  Parts of the subdivision he was in were overrun with lava as was an entire town in the 90's.  Before long, Jack was the only one left.  His only access was eventually cut off and he had a 3-4 mile hike out and back to get supplies.  He had his own piece of paradise with fruit trees he'd cultivated and eventually, he started hosting tourists and local friends in his home.  It was a dream of ours to eventually stay in his home overnight.  To see that red glow from his porch, to talk to him and have a personal tour of land that we wouldn't have access to otherwise to feed our lava addiction.  An addiction that had us buying land in the rainforest so we could be close enough to Pele but not too close.  We planned to do that next year and I was just wanting to get another 40 lbs or so off so that I could comfortably hike in the heat of the black lava without embarrassing myself.

In the past 30 years, many flows have headed Jack's way and many times Pele granted him more time on his beautiful acre of land...until a week ago today.  Jack's piece of paradise is under lava, reclaimed by the volcano goddess who respected the man who took care of her 'aina (land) until she took it back.  As I read this news, I sobbed uncontrollably for a few hours.  Jack was a lava renegade to us.  He was the last man standing for so long and no one ever questioned why, it seemed that they had a special relationship and all of his friends and admirers knew that.  It was quite beautiful.  My heart broke for him and after a good crying jag I also realized my heart broke for us.  Yet one more thing that our years of being overweight stole from us.  Another thing that we couldn't do because I wasn't in good enough shape or too embarrassed or too...whatever.  I mourn for that lost opportunity of that ultimate bucket list item for the Mr and I.  I can only hope one day we get to meet Jack and express what following his story meant to us.  To tell him we can never know his loss but grieved for it just the same.

Don't let your weight hold you back from opportunities to do something that may not always be an option.  If there isn't a weight limit involved in an activity you want to do, just take a deep breath, jump out of your comfort zone and do it.  We're not guaranteed all the time in the world to do big things.

If you want to read more about Jack's story and see video of his last day and return, click here.

What activity do you want to do that you haven't because of psychological barriers with your weight?

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  1. It sucks that we won't get the opportunity to see the lava house but I'm glad we have had the chance to follow this amazing story.

    While we may not realize our dream on this one, we can still get pretty close to it by just hiking the lava fields and getting that amazing opportunity to see lava flows close up again and feel that incredible heat.

  2. Although it has nothing to do with activities I can't or won't do because of my weight, I do know the pain of regret. All I can say is, don't allow it to cripple you. What would you have done once you crossed that off your 'bucket list'? Go do that, and then the next thing and the next thing. Your world is opening up more and more with every pound conquered--rejoice!

  3. There are too many activiites to mention that I could not participate in before my weight loss. Either from lack of energy, fear of mortification, or simply that I just didn't fit either size-wise or weight-wise. I did nothing.

    BUT NOW....I can do anything. I feel such a sense of freedom. I think that is the BEST thing about my weight loss, how it has opened the world back up to me..and nothing is going to stop me now!

  4. Wow, I just watched the evacuation, that's so sad. I can't imagine surviving so many flows for so many years, and then to have to leave... I'm sorry this dream won't be realized. *HUGS*

    There are tons of things I didn't do because I was scared. I didn't go parasailing, hiking in the Pacific Rim, or caving. None of which were hindered by weight, but I was terrified I wouldn't to do what was required of the activity. SOOO Stupid. This post really makes me want to do a crap load of stuff this summer.

  5. Wow, that's a really special story. I honestly had no idea about lava Jack or any of this but I still felt tugs at my heart strings as I read. I'm sorry you won't be able to experience what hoped you'd be able to. I know that in the future you will never take an opportunity for granted, so don't let this eat away at you too much. You have so much more to do!!!

  6. Never heard of "Lava" Jack, but I could definitely feel your emotions throughout this blog. I have really missed out on a lot even now, I don't want to go places where I have to get on a plane b/c quite frankly the seats are uncomfortable, and I feel embarrassed, like I don't deserve to be able to fly. I don't want to go and see my old coworkers because I weigh more than I did the last time they saw me, and I feel like I would just be a laughing stock. I think that I am my worst enemy. I hate going out in public because I don't like the way I look. If I feel so harshly about myself, I should just change. I don't like to put my real feelings out there because then I feel exposed, and I wonder if everyone sees me the way I see myself. There's my reality for you. This blog just brings those thoughts back about how I shouldn't let my feelings about my size stop me from trying something as long as I don't exceed any weight limit.

  7. I do know what u mean in the sense of the worst feeling but as the MR said...u got to hike the fields and will do it again:)



  8. How sad! I am so sorry that you didn't get to do this. It's true that we should not let our weight hold us back!

  9. Wow - what an amazing story. I hadn't ever heard of him before, but even just in that short segment I could really feel his passion and pain. No wonder you're so torn up for him, and for yourself missing an opportunity.

    I can't say that my weight has been the cause, but I certainly have missed my share of opportunities that I've come to regret.

  10. I'm sorry that you missed out on this. And it is a shame about Jack's house. But there is still a lot of life and living ahead of you. I'm sure there are lots o other things on your bucket list that you will get to do.

    I do have some regrets although they are not weight related. Thanks for the reminder to not let fear hold me back. Life is short. Live it.
    "Leap, and the net will appear."

  11. This is so sad, I remember seeing him in a documentary and thought he was so cool! I really hope you get to meet him one day.

  12. What activity do you want to do that you haven't because of psychological barriers with your weight?

    To go to a Girl's night out and not feel self conscious. Hell to Go Out and not feel self conscious.

  13. Thank you so much for the wonderful comments and trusting me with your feelings as well. It's a slippery slope but we all need to remember life is for living now!

  14. As a Hilo girl born and raised, I know exactly what you mean. I miss the days when you could drive up to a road and watch the lava flow right in front of you, now your options are limited to hiking in and viewing from half a mile away. It's sad, and so is Uncle Jack's story, but its Pele's way of clearing out the old & getting ready for the new :) also.. Aina has no 'okina (') between a and i.. It is actually in front of the entire word ('aina) :)

    Me ke aloha pumehana!

  15. Mahalo Lucy! I know that but was apparently having a brain cramp that day! The county is even closing the lava viewing area due to funding issues so I just hope people will respect the land as they hike in like they seemed to do before that county site was established.


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