When I was thirteen, my father bought my family matching t-shirts that said, “My Dad is type-two fun.” This referred to my father’s tendency to take us on stressful, mostly outdoor, adventures that were far from enjoyable but whose stories provided decent entertainment later. These outings occur regularly, leaving the family in a state of distress while he becomes frustrated with our unenthusiastic attitudes.
Shortly after, my family planned a vacation to Maui, Hawaii. I stepped off the plane after a long flight, but I was pleasantly surprised at the small, chirping birds flying through the open-air terminal at Kahului Airport. I should have known that no vacation to island paradise would be complete without type-two fun.
My dad had his heart set on viewing a sunrise from the top of Mount Haleakala, Maui’s eastern volcano that forms seventy-five percent of the island. I thought this was a decent idea, but I had not prepared myself for the jarring sound of my alarm going off at three-thirty AM to wake up for the two-hour drive to make the six AM sunrise.
My father said, as we piled into the car, “Cheer up, Sunshine. What other place in the world can you drive straight up to ten-thousand feet?”
We departed, and as we neared the top of the volcano, it began to pour rain, and my hopes for a pleasant experienced plummeted as I pleaded, “Can we just go back down and forget this?”
My family insisted on staying, so I sat in a rental car in a parking lot with hundreds of people and marveled that somehow in July in Hawaii it was raining and forty-seven degrees outside. Gradually, the rain tapered off, and we emerged from the car. I shivered and jumped up and down, trying to overcome our lack of preparedness and weather resistant clothing.
A crowd of people had begun to amass against the landscape of barren, post-volcanic rock.
My family huddled like penguins against the cold, a strategy we found to be legitimately successful, as a park ranger confronted the crowd, gestured to the bleak, grey sky and declared, “This is your sunrise!”
“Please, can we go back to the car,” I begged, as the group dispersed, sunrise completed.
Still, we remained wandering Haleakala National Park as the horizon at last began to clear. The sun scattered the gloom, floating above the clouds concealing the island below, and smiled upon we who had bothered to make that very very early ten-thousand foot summit.
Eventually, I realized that I was basically on top of the world in an exotic location outside the contiguous forty-eight, and the glowing, near blinding sunrise was actually breathtaking, and eventually, we descended the winding roads back into summer. In the daylight, as we drove, my vantage point allowed me to view most of the island, from the fields of sugarcane all the way to the coast.
On the way, we stopped for breakfast at the Kula Lodge & Restaurant. There I became the opposite of my state on the mountain: warm, dry, and contented with a plate of macadamia nut pancakes and an understanding that I had participated in an extraordinary experience. I had been disgruntled with braving the elements, and yet, what had occurred had not been completely unpleasant.
Author Paulo Coelho writes, “The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”
Sometimes, very little suffering is involved at all, especially if the conclusion is a nap in a hammock beneath swaying palms with a breeze blowing off the ocean.
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