I woke early on the second day and decided to take a trek around our host ranch, a beautiful property where some of our preliminary training is occurring.
The morning greeted me gently using complementary melodies from local island birds. One bright yellow singer flew past, inviting me into the lush vegetation and before long, I found myself exploring the windy garden paths, surrounded by tropical plants, banana bunches, and bright blue and pink flowers sprinkled about. Jealous ‘Birds of paradise’ flowers stuck out their necks gracefully in a bid to join their more mobile counterparts.
Nature’s busy silence reminded me of its capability, and its unabating resolve refused to do anything but wash out my nerves in exchange for calm.
I take in it all in. With the approaching mission, fresh air and the warmth of the sunlight against my skin has become a precious limited resource.
It’s all a bit bitter-sweet, having the Hawaiian landscape in sight, only to be isolated from it for the majority of my visit.
Throughout the property are many large, elaborate spider-webs populated with crab spiders. Through each twist and turn of the path, more and more began to present themselves in a jungle-gym fashion.
My short indulgence in a tiny forest adventure reinforces my love of wandering, and these webs provide a welcomed child-like playing.
Every few feet, I stop to carefully examine each geometrically unique structure, looking to expose vulnerabilities so that I can move forward without breaking their anchors. Before long, I’m ducking, shimmying, and dodging each of the silk laser security systems.
Some spiders seemed to grow more clever with time, laying their webs low in trip-wire form while others created large boastful walls, demanding I step off the beaten path.
With growing frequency of appearances, I eventually begin to accidentally break some invisible webs. I feel a bit bad in these instances. These spiders have worked hard to build the webs they inhabit, with little recognition. As far as I know, they’re not even eligible for retirement benefits, and some of them have spouses that eat them afterwards. It’s not an easy life.
And here I am, accidentally destroying their pièce de résistance, all because in their world, I’m a fumbling giant, whose playful movements can be detrimental.
The whole exercise reminds me that we live in a world of ‘Bigs’ and ‘Smalls’.
It’s obvious to us that the Earth is the place we live – somewhere to live, grow, and thrive. In our stomachs, where trillions of living organisms live, we are somewhere to live, grow, and thrive. In the other direction, where the Earth lives, grows, and thrives -in the universe, if we decide not to venture, we may as well be a crab spider waiting for a broken web.
It’s all just ‘Bigs’ and ‘Smalls’
It crosses my mind as I finish my lone trek, that I will miss my ability to go for a walk, to disappear into the warm embrace of nature. I wonder if my mind will be able to give life to these odd thoughts when the plants and whistling wind are replaced with miles of volcanic rock, and the sound of my own breath bouncing off a simulation spacesuit visor.
And so, I consider a newly identified challenge. How can I find the equivalent of going for a walk in the habitat? Where will I finding winding paths and new discoveries in a dome with few physical ones to offer?
How will I turn the big….into small?