I just came back from an epic vacation in Hawaii, and I want to write this down for you before I get back to normal. Why? Because Hawaii is beautiful, pure, and still being built by mother nature. It made me get spiritual and back in touch with my senses…all of them.
The only piece of technology I brought with me was my mobile “phone”, with which I:
- Took pictures
- Applied photo filters
- Backed-up pictures to “the Cloud”
- Recorded videos
- Edited videos
- Shared videos
- Participated in playful contests on Instagram and Facebook
- Wrote down reminders to write this for you
- Listened to music
- Text messaged
- Made one phone call (just one)
All from my mobile “phone”. OK, I also brought multiple chargers, because we still need chargers.
One night after dinner, I had the luxury of walking back to my hotel, instead of needing to catch a motorized ride. The exercise was invigorating, but the real treat was in the almost total darkness. The hotel that had hosted the luau, and the hotel where I was staying share the same island coastline. They are only separated by a couple of other luxury resorts, and about a dozen mansions, most of which were unoccupied. The result was a walk under the stars, not artificial light, but the primordial light we were all meant to see. It made me sad to realize how much light pollution I am usually exposed to. My Silicon Valley home isn’t even representative of the most light-polluted areas. We have an astronomy tower in our city, so the lights are kept more dim than you would find in most other metropolises. Yet, Maui was a treat for the sight and the soul. Have you ever visited a site that was not heavily light-polluted? If you did, you were probably camping. How long did you have to travel from your home to experience that?
It’s hard to find things to complain about at a fancy resort, and I’m usually not a complainer, but I did have a real issue with an annoying sound keeping me awake during the first two nights. I kept hearing a beep, beep, beep, every second. It sounded like a phone off the hook. No one else could hear it. The hotel didn’t seem to know what it was. Finally, a maintenance technician figured out that it was the silent alarm from the public announcement system, which is always active, but most people can’t hear. Well, I heard it, loud and clear. They were kind enough to disconnect it in my room only, for the duration of my stay.
Wouldn’t you like to know why I’m blessed with such superhuman hearing? It’s because my Mom didn’t buy me that Walkman I asked her for during the 1980s. She said it would ruin my hearing. She was right. Here I am now, blessed with the unharmed sense of hearing, patiently waiting for my iPhone 7, which promises a brand new headphone experience! Yet, I had to stop and think about how technology can both damage and repair part of my humanity, in this case my sense or hearing. I wonder if I could get a job testing sound quality for fancy hotels? Pure silence is priceless. There’s nothing I can do about the birds, though. They are nature’s alarm clocks.
During my stay on the island of Maui, it made me sad to receive news from Beijing, a city shut down by human negligence and pollution. While I felt my city allergies dissipate, my heart hurt for the children of a city that have never known a clear blue sky or an outing without masks. What’s even more sad is knowing that the contamination finds its way to plants and animals, becoming part of the food supply. Air filters can help the breathing that happens behind closed doors and windows. We were not meant to be locked up. Are we teaching our children that this is acceptable?
China is somebody’s homeland. China is everyone’s problem. Every body deserves fresh air. Can we put our creativity together to build new economic, production, and consumption models that are environmentally friendly? We all came from the sea, and we all deserve to experience the gifts of nature.
Enjoying the bounties of a daily ocean catch, knowing the name of the fisherman who made it possible, that’s what I call luxury. We know so little about our food or where it comes from. Most days we’re in too much of a hurry to care anyway. I have had passionate conversations with friends discussing whether the world is overpopulated or poorly managed. Whatever the current situation is, we can agree that there is an unfair distribution of food and water on the planet. Many people support vegan practices as a way to reduce the impact of human predation on other lifeforms. What do you think?
Hawaii has multiple agricultural inspection checkpoints while entering and exiting the islands. This is an effort to preserve the local wildlife. It also means that many dishes and drinks can only be genuinely enjoyed there. What a good old-fashioned reason for traveling and experiencing the originality of a new land!
We need to be more child-like. Playing with our sense of touch may be the best way to get back to the basics of the human experience. If we are able to travel to a land where we don’t have to worry about contamination, radiation, pollution, or disrespectful littering, then we can touch everything around us.
There are places on Earth where you can still feel fully human. Are we using technology to preserve these naturally beautiful stretches of nature, or will we be forced to use technology to clean up the mess we’ve made? Join me in committing to preserving our planet as it continues to expand, grow and adapt. Hawaii proves that we haven’t made a mess of the entire planet, yet. Let’s build from there, clean up our mess elsewhere, and preserve the beauty of what we have inherited. We have the technology, we can rebuild it better than it was before … “Better… stronger… faster.” … cleaner.
We’re not perfect, but we’re in this together.
Are we the peak of evolution? No, my money’s on birds. They are the descendants of dinosaurs, they survived previous cataclysms, and they will survive us as well. I leave you with images of native birds, who came to share my breakfast with me during a recent visit to the Yucatan peninsula… the very place where an asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago. As you see, the birds evolved and adapted. Could we do the same?