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⛰ Letter 69: Koko Head Crater, Cave Diving, Cliff Jumping, Three Week Reflection, Ephemeral

8 min

What are the cons that I am overlooking in this decision based on the pros?

Aloha fellow learn-it-all,

Greetings from my hammock in Fort DeRussy Beach Park 🌺

If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the other learn-it-alls:

Now, let’s dive into letter 69 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

🖊 Writing

So I joined a writing room as a part of the Foster Writing community. The welcoming prompt that Stew Fortier posted was to share something fun that we'd written.

I perused my website with a bird's eye view and realized I hadn't written anything recently that I'd define as 'fun'.

I needed to change that asap.

Here's a poem from my first three weeks living in Waikiki, Hawai'i:

Click below, if you’d like to read it on my website (with all the pictures):

Wearing my wicked watch tan,

my sore feet covered in blisters from hiking

And walking the famous Kalakua shopping street each morn

Along with my black, brown, blue and green bruises all over

especially on my hips and my rib cage from the surf.

I cannot say I've ever had all this before.

It was totally worth it though.

At the top of a hike, it feels like you’re high on life.

Surfing feels like balancing on the earth’s current in the most perfect of ways.

It  is all too exhilarating to stop

Where time gets left behind to be present.

I might need to buy my own surfboard…

and hiking boots.

I got awestruck by tremendous sea turtle inhaling oxygen next to me

So much that I flipped off my longboard

Then I met a guy named Micah

Who coached me and told me I wasn't centered.

Hawaii feels flawless most of the time

But man of man I'm over these prices

It's a pain to buy breakfast that's alway in double digits

But the Kona coffee is so pure

The gasoline is four dollars minimum for a singular measly gallon

It's hard to say no

And all the bowls

There's the poke and the açaí

I never can make up my mind.

You'll never run outta rice here.

There's the delicious Spam Musubi rice meal a dollar 95 at the ABC

I buy those for a meal like 123.

There's dim sum, Korean kimchi and hypnotic Chinese on a spinning Lazy Suzanne.

The time zone is kinda whack

And taking time to adjust to

I mean I post anything and for hours

the only people who see it are me, myself, and I.

And I can't call my rents at night

Only in the morning.

So I've been making friends up the wazoo

I've never lived in a hostel before

Everything is so transitory,

But it's oh so fun.

To go from a handful IRL physical friends

To meeting near 100 people in a few weeks

I’m not lying that it's quite crazy.

On my arrival day I was asked if I was homeless.

Yes, I hadn't showered and was jet lagged,

But I had a home and had insomnia a few days.

So I sat on a bench and waited for the sun to rise,

Without knowing it was on the other side of the island.

I feared I lost my social skills

I think they're coming back.

I've been meeting some of the most interesting people

Like a sped teacher seeking to support dyslexics

Who surfs, produces music, paints and fixes motorcycles

A plethora of uber drivers in the military

A girl who makes spoon rings

A 19 year old entrepreneur who bakes gluten free cookies

An aspiring videographer who has a way with the lens

Rigorous students studying remotely

A flock of drunk germans at Taco Tuesday

A father supporting his family of five with three jobs

A compassionate Moroccan who moved to Maui.

A guy I rented my surfboard who thought I was 19.

I couldn't help but laugh.

Age is just a number here.

The ceiling is invisible with opportunities.

As for the job that relocated me here:

My title is community manager.

In actuality, I feel like a caring adult camp counselor.

elevating young professionals to discover themselves.

While in mom mode I make sure to support them in their ‘street smarts’

And flex some empathy of what it was like my first time studying abroad.

They look up to me

And I look up to them.

They make me feel younger again

Like when I lived in a retirement condo building in Florida last March

When Fred called me kiddo each day.

My students started a mindfulness club with me.

They reminded me what it was like to meditate and journal

for the first time.

What a beautiful feeling that is.

The diversity here in Hawaii is mind-boggling.

An intersection of humanity like none other I have seen before.

Its uniqueness is unmatched.

I could people watch in the Ala Moana park all day.

Who knew that this Polynesian part of Oceania was a magnet for everyone?

This is just the beginning.

I cannot wait to keep observing life as it goes by.

There's something about this place.

I’ve never seen such calming sunsets,

Or glistening stars in the pitch black sky,

The mountain peaks are all shy and vanish into the clouds.

My pass times are in a limbo,

In the best of ways.

I want to surf and hike every day

when I never have before in my life.

Fishing and dancing are still on that list,

And I cannot wait.

🏖 Waikiki Update

I started a mindfulness club and a handful of students joined in on the fun. For some of them it was their first time meditating or journaling. It was so refreshing and inspiring to see the practice experienced through a novel set of eyes. Wow I this is so fulfilling.

I selfishly need the accountability myself as I've been lacking in my practice for my mental health. It’s easy to slip into the cracks without intentionality.

Some other highlights from the past week were facing my fears. My weekend excursion was up at the north shore at shark cove. There were no sharks but there were beautiful fish and sea turtles. I went into a shallow cave and saw a pool of fish. Then I heard about a deeper cave. I wanted to try it out. For a claustrophobic person swimming into a black hole is my worst nightmare. I knew I trusted my friend Seanna but I still was beyond squeamish. It took me about 6 tries to actually make it through but I did it!

We didn’t leave until all of us each jumped off the cliff at the cove. Bravery is not at all diminished by a loud scream. At least in my book. I haven’t jumped off a cliff since a trip in West Virginia with a Tarzan rope when I was eleven years old. Ah, it’s so fun to feel like a kid again.

🔎 Word to define

Ephemeral: Short-lived; existing or continuing for a short time only

Beginning and ending in a day; existing only, or no longer than a day; diurnal.  A mayflower insect is ephemeral. To pass without continuing in a transient matter.


Originally from the 1560s rooted in ephemera + -al. Originally of diseases and lifespans, "lasting but one day". The extended meaning of "transitory" is from 1630s.


Hostels are the breeding ground for ephemeral connections as travelers pass through.

🌟 Quote to inspire

"We cannot teach people anything. We can only help them discover it within themselves." -Galileo Galilei

❓ Question to think about

What are the cons that I am overlooking in this decision based on the pros?

📷 Photo of the Week

Koko Head is a crater tramway that is only 1.7 miles round trip and 642 feet to climb upward, yet I cannot recall the last time I sweat that much.

I witnessed folks from all walks of life climbing it.

I know comparison isn’t the healthiest thing to do but when you see someone with a prosthetic leg climbing it, it helps to squash the seeds of doubt going on in my own mind. "If they can do it, so can I.” For Pete's sake I saw a toddler climbing up it.

There were athletes who were sprinting it and lapped me a couple times. They clearly came often and didn’t flinch at the large drop between each plank on the railway. If I enjoyed it a bit more maybe I’d tag along and make it a habit, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. Though the view was miraculous.

🙏 Shoutouts to some of my students

I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you want to learn more about who I am, I welcome you to visit my online home.

Never stop learning 😁

Mahalo 🌺


👣 Footnotes

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