During the two weeks that I spent on Kauaʻi in 2007 I drove to Poipu late one afternoon in order to watch the sun set over the water. All sorts of other people had the same idea and although all we were doing was watching the sun go down there was a party atmosphere among those sitting on car hoods, rock walls and the sandy beach. I managed to get a few shots of that sunset in progress and when it finally slipped into the sea accompanied by everyone’s applause it did so with perfection. After the sun had set I then went to the restaurant “Kilohana” for yet another experience of perfection: one of the finest meals that I have ever had! What day could be better? (click photos for larger!)
Part of the enjoyment of going out to eat at a really nice restaurant is that the eating experience is elevated to a level not normally enjoyed on a daily basis. The starched and pressed tablecloth, the candlelight, the respectful attentiveness of the waiter add up to an experience which can even leave the diner happy to just be alive! No small accomplishment in today’s world! So why should we do something as well as we can? Simply because doing something as well as possible is a manifestation of kuleana, of being a responsible person. Being responsible is an expression of maturity. Like a flower bud whose whole purpose in being is to become ripened fruit, so too our daily experiences are meant to contribute to our maturation.
And yet we humans have the ability to take a normal human impulse and mis-use it so that what was healthy crosses the line and cripples us. The need for food is part of the human experience; without food, the person dies. When one crosses over the line of healthiness with food the issue can lead to over-eating, bulimia or anorexia. The sexual impulse is a normal part of human experience, giving joy to its participants; pushed beyond healthiness this impulse becomes sexual addiction. The need for rest when pushed over the line can become sloth and laziness.
When we push normal and healthy human impulses to an extreme we often do so because of some deeper issue. Take perfectionism for instance. Perfectionism, which we all assume demonstrates an admirable sense of responsibility is actually about the issue of control; more precisely the fear of losing control. Coupled with this may also be the fear of being vulnerable and afraid of emotions. When God created everything… us included… He said that it was good. Therefore those impulses which are proper to the human experience are also good. If those impulses get out of whack then like the sun setting at Poipu we must slip beneath the surface and look for the reasons. After all, the desire to be healthily whole is another human impulse… isn’t it?