It was a hard weekend here; my family is starting our fourth year without my mom. This morning I woke up to the news that Kilauea was erupting brilliantly and I spent a little while watching the world leak out of itself on Youtube. 

Late last year I shared a photo I took when I was sixteen on a school trip to Hawaii. We were there for eleven days, and on one of those days we hiked Kilauea. I lost the disc of pictures I took on that day, and though there are worse things in the world, this one is still pretty bad. It’s a strange thing, to see the world from that vantage point. I would love to be able to show you what it looked like from where I stood at that moment, even if the pictures were shot by a girl who was only doing what she thought she was supposed to do when she walked through a volcano.

It was a long, long hike, and by the end of it I was sure they were going to have to drive a van up to me somehow because I knew I was not going to finish. When you push yourself physically that way, you think so many bizarre things, and then you stop really thinking at all; your body divorces itself from your silly brain to keep taking step after step. I sat down on a rock and told myself not to cry. Our tour guide, Mike, found me sitting there. He handed me a small white flower and, ever the cryptic one, said simply “Mana” to me before walking on by.

click to visit the original image on Flickr from sinayNo, they wouldn’t have left without me, although there’s nothing like watching someone walk away from you when you’re in distress. But I caught my breath and walked back out of that volcano. Mana is spirit; it’s in everything, the whole world, and especially in Hawaii, if you pay attention, you know you are surrounded by it whenever you’re more than a mile from a t-shirt shop. You carry it around with you even if you aren’t using it right now while you’re drinking your coffee and reading this. Or maybe you are; maybe this is about all you can accomplish right now because other things are too much. And that’s okay. Everyone walks out of the volcano on their own, in their own time, on their own mana.