Connection is essential in life, in order to feel. For me anyway, this is true. We as humans have found a handful of ways to connect in the world, whether it be through media, materials, or just the simple company of other things that may help us find a deep sense of peace and/or physical and emotional security. I can say with most certainty that I am guilty of choosing to connect in life through media, materials, and living things such as animals, plants, and people. Although, I don’t believe that I have ever truly had an opportunity to make a raw connection with Earth until I stepped foot on Kure. I wish this type of experience for anyone and everyone in the world. I had gotten a taste of finding this sort of connection with nature throughout my remote internship in Oregon this summer, I guess you could say I wanted a little more.
As the days pass here I notice a shift in how I view Earth and all that lies within the ecosystem that we are sharing with the wildlife on the island. I stare at the stars a little longer each night, marvel over the ample amount of love and respect that the albatross show each other, and soak in the happiness that a simple look at a healthy and happy endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal can bring to my soul. I enjoy hearing the variety of wildlife vocalizations and listening to the sound of the ocean’s mana as it breaks onto the island’s edges throughout the days and nights; taking the place of cars zooming by on the university main road and Twitter notifications popping up on my phone for hours on end. Some of the characteristics here take me back to my simple yet full-of-life home, in Montana. The home where my brother and I used to tell our friends “our house is in the middle of nowhere, good luck finding it”. Exaggeration at its finest, although we both know that the love for our home is endless despite our sarcastic comments here and there. The place we grew up in allowed us to grow with nature, see the good and the bad, and eventually led the both of us to share a passion for its well-being today, tomorrow, and the days that may follow.
The more connected I feel, the more grounded I seem to become with the ecosystem, Earth, and the universe. The more grounded I become, the more appreciative I feel for life. There is so much life here. And by life, I don’t just mean the life that humans can bring (there are only five of us!). I’m talking about the life found in the elements that make up the earth—vegetation, water, wildlife, the sky. These, too, have connections with each other, just like we do with the things that help us feel more whole. I find it valuable to try to be more mindful of such elements that surround me in life. Life is beautiful, but it is only as pretty as we make it up to be. Part of its beauty now relies on our work to try to restore it back to the way that it is supposed to be.
Just the other day I was accompanied by a black-footed albatross as I was tuning my uke on the white sandy beach, looking out at the calm turquoise blue lagoon of the atoll. I looked over to the curious one and started to strum a few chords, forming them into a song of my own. The albatross looked up at me with its kind eyes as its feathers ruffled, and took a seat inches away from my legs. I don’t exactly know what it meant, but it felt like he/she enjoyed the tune and the company that I may have provided. Little moments like this strengthen my connection and place here on Earth. It couldn’t make me happier! Everyone deserves a chance to connect with a place that provides room to roam and grow, I am grateful to have my chance here.
-Myka Lahela Steinbeisser