[extropy-chat] An update to Stretching Comfort Zones

Amara Graps amara at amara.com
Wed Oct 5 08:21:37 UTC 2005

Some years ago I wrote the attached text in the message:

Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2000
Subject: Stretching Comfort Zones

Since I am now on the island (Molokai) on which the location of this
story takes place, I asked the people here who know, "precisely
where is this place that the Audrey Sutherland began and swam her

It is here:

(seeing with my own eyes)

which is located on the following map at Halawa Valley at the far
right on the map, where the road ends:


She swam from Halawa along the north shore of Molokai which,
it is said, holds the worlds tallest sea cliffs (true or not,
it is very impressive to see them from the sea!)


--------------my attached text from 2000------------------------------

_Paddling my Own Canoe_ by Audrey Sutherland, Univ of Hi Press, 1978.

The book is about a woman (Sutherland) who first started making solo
journeys to a particular inaccessible beach in Moloka'i in 1958. She is
a strong woman who made her first attempts swimming from one side of the
island (after being dropped there by plane), dragging her gear in
waterproof containers that she also built, and then later she improvised
by building small rafts/canoes. This part of Moloka'i was uninhabited
and, because of terrain and enormous cliffs around, one could not reach
the beach from inland. And the Moloka'i Channel is one of the most
dangerous stretches of water in the Pacific Ocean, so that getting there
by boat is/was non-trivial too.

Each year she learned new things on how to accomplish this task, and
became more knowledgeable and sophisticated in her sea-faring methods.
Eventually she built a cabin for herself on that beach, bringing all of
the materials patiently on each journey.

I think that this book might be a good book for teenagers to read when
they have times when they think that they cannot do anything. It might
be particularly helpful to young girls. I liked the book because I think
that she is an amazing woman, and it's inspirational for me, and the
book descriptions remind me of my childhood (I grew up in Hawai'i in the
60s, and my family and I lived on boat for a year). Plus I especially
liked her descriptions of solitude. It brings "home" to me why I like to
go on long solo bike trips.

I'll quote from the last part of the book- my favorite part.

{begin quote}

"And why did I always come alone to Moloka'i? I know why, but the
telling is hard. Daily we are on trial, to do a job, to make a marriage
good, to find depth, serenity, and meaning in a complex, deteriating
world of politics, false values, and trivia. But rarely are we deeply
challenged physically or alone. We rely on friends, on family, on a
committee, on community agencies outside ourselves. To have actual
survival, living or dying, depends on our own ingenuity, skill, or
stamina- this is a core question we seldom face. We rarely find out if
we like having only our own mind as company for days or weeks at a time.
How many people have ever been total isolated, ten miles from the
nearest other human, for even two days?

Alone, you are more aware of surroundings, wary as an animal to danger,
limp and relaxed when the sun, the brown earth, or the deep grass say,
"Rest now." Alone you stand at night, alert, poised, hearing through
ears and open mouth and fingertips. Alone, you do not worry whether
someone else is tired or hungry or needing. You push yourself hard or
quit for the day, reveling in the luxury of solitude. And being
unconcerned with human needs, you become as a fish, a boulder, a tree- a
part of the world around you.

I stood once in midstream, balanced on a rock. A scarlet leaf fluttered,
spiraled down. I watched it, became a wind-blown leaf, swayed, fell into
the water with a giant human splash, then soddenly crawled out, laughing

The process of daily living is often intense and whimsical. The joy of
it, and the compassion, we can share, but in pain we are ultimately
alone. The only real antidote is inside. The only real security is not
insurance or money or a job, not a house and furniture paid for, or a
retirement fund, and never is it another person. It is the skill and
humor and courage within, the ability to build your own fires and find
your own peace.

On a solo trip you may discover these, or try to build them, and life
becomes simple and deeply satisfying. The confidence and strength remain
and are brought back and applied to the rest of your life."

{end quote}


Amara Graps, PhD          email: amara at amara.com
Computational Physics     vita:  ftp://ftp.amara.com/pub/resume.txt
Multiplex Answers         URL:   http://www.amara.com/
"It never hurts to be conservative where the galactic plane is involved."
   -- Chris Fassnacht

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