I was standing on the beach in Hana on the east side of Maui the other day, watching the sunrise. For a year and a half, living on the west-facing slopes of Haleakala volcano, I’ve witnessed only sunsets over the water . . . long, hazy, fat orange-globe glides into the ocean, frequently accompanied by a riot of technicolor cloud formations.
In contrast, east-side, the sun fairly leapt from below the horizon as if eager to start the new day. There was little preparation and fanfare. One second the sun wasn’t there, the next moment TA DA! LIGHT! No tired end-of-day haze on the horizon, the sky was sweetly pellucid and almost unmarked by clouds.
Once again I was struck by the similarity between the average day and the average life.
Morning starts out sweet and uncluttered. Our baby faces unmarked, eyes wide and luminescent, our gaze is candid and unswerving. Life is simple. We want what we want when we want it. Our demands are loud and clear. With luck, they are swiftly met.
Energy is infinite and untapped. We GO! As soon as we get our sea legs we’re up and at ‘em—a running, laughing, skipping, screaming, skating, tree-climbing explosion of action and sound that goes and goes and goes until we drop, exhausted, and sleep overtakes us.
By noon, the sun is overhead and we’re feeling the heat. We’ve managed to thrash from Pre-K to that college degree, and whether we like it or not, 50,000 hours of legally-enforced programming has set the tone and expectations for the rest of our lives. We’re out there “doing our thing.” At least we hope it’s our thing. Maybe it’s our parents’ thing. Or the thing all the fucking aptitude tests told us was our thing.
We’re not sure. But who has the time or the energy to question it?
5 pm comes. Finally!
We’re tired. We probably should go for a run or hit the gym. But they don’t call it “working out” for nothing—and we’re tired of working. Tequila and wine, cannabis and coke and Oxycontin look pretty damn good at this point. Of course, there’s TV and Netflix. It all runs together, just like our days.
By 11 p.m. we’re zoned out on the sofa, mouth sagging open with maybe a bit of drool spotting our t-shirt. At least the hillbilly heroin has taken care of the body-wide issues that are setting in—the nagging low back pain, the headaches and neuralgia, the inflammation-driven diseases. The depression. The anxiety. The boredom.
Sleep, if we can attain it anymore, beckons—that narrow slide between sofa and bed, stupor and temporary oblivion.
Hopefully we can get it up for one more day. But we’re just so damn sleepy and drained. The slide into entropy is just so damn easy. Attractive. Inevitable.
Sunrise . . . sunset.
I was on that slide into entropy . . . that long slow glide path towards a tired horizon filled with haze and smoke and clouds. Which is why I cut my drinking by 99% and my “substance intake” by 100%. (The next battle is with Netflix!) It’s why I cut out sugar and gluten. It’s why I walk every day and bought a rebounder. And a strength-training kit. It’s why I’m taking voice lessons and want to learn pickleball and take hula lessons. It’s why I meditate and am reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
I looked at that dusty horizon—that typical sunset—and decided, “No way. I’m not going out like that.”
And I’d be lying if I told you it’s easy.