Tag Archive: Hawaii

Though you may travel the world to find the beautiful, you must have it within you or you will find it not.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

How true is this quote from the legendary Ralph Waldo Emerson? Many times we need to learn wisdom from the hard lessons in life – sometimes the painful way… I learned this wisdom the difficult way after graduating college. I had the opportunity to work in Los Angeles at an advertising firm – a referral from a professor who saw talent in me. Instead, I decided to throw caution to the wind and move to Hawaii to surf and follow my heart wish (or what I thought was my heart wish). Sounds great right? Yet, something was not right. I had much to still learn about myself and this thing called life.  My mindfulness was shortsighted and I could not put my finger on why I felt uncomfortable within; a boutique of bad habits, lacking self-esteem and energy. The result was one of the most humbling experiences ever: A mélange of bad karma that fed bad luck all of which contributed to the severed friendship of two great friends, a shattered ankle and a broken wrist; a job so inadequate I was on the cusp of poverty; left to picking sticky nickels out of the sofa to buy .99 cent burgers off the value menu. So downtrodden,  injured and mired with bills, I could not even surf some of the best waves in the world – and through it all I could not even remember the main reason I moved to Hawaii; all of this conflict and suffering while living under the warm and beautiful tropical sun. How ironic… Suffering in paradise…?

Ego and negative energy will follow you where ever you go… My own trappings from childhood and the demons of false-self traveled with me to paradise. But it was not a paradise. It was one of the most humbling experiences in my life. I look back on that experience now and see the art of the event; I see the wisdom from such encounters with suffering (and the cause of that suffering). The two long years I lived in Hawaii I grew from a boy to a man – from confusion to clarity. From that experience alone, I have learned that you can travel the world and find  beauty, but if you are not centered and self-actualized within; you will not experience beauty; only suffering. Our ego and false-self can create a mirror image or mirage that may look beautiful on the surface but deep down the root of such beauty is only veiled by the suffering intrinsic to our actions and reactions. Still the wisdom is to learn from such experiences – to evolve and prosper on the backbone of false-self – seizing a new day – a new paradise wherever you call home.

I look back on those days with some indifference; my feelings are complicated as the situations that created the memories now archived in my head. Still, we cannot escape our past for it is that old weed covered path we walked years ago that has led us to this point in the present. From negativity we can find wisdom; and from wisdom we can move soundly forward, clear, connected and self-actualized.


John C. Bader


Nature is one of many connections to empowerment and energy – there is a wealth of space and clarity when surrounded in nature.

2011 was a year of travel for me. I have been researching energy vortexes and meditation within nature for my soon to be released book, The Responsive Universe. I have visited some amazing places within the United States in an effort to center myself and connect to the sublime energy found so prevalent in nature.

I was intrigued by the space of the Great Plains and the majestic presence of the Rocky Mountains. The deserts and canyons of Utah showed rugged beauty even amidst desolation. Sedona was enchanting and nothing seems more inviting than the Pacific Ocean which I visited in both California and Hawaii.

There is so much inspiration and energy to be discovered within nature – each scenic vista so different from the last but each unique and memorable.  Even a sunset in your backyard can be inspiring. On the long winding path to self-discovery and enlightenment use nature as a tool to connect to the sublime – to energy and dynamism.

From energy we were born – from nature we evolved – find your connection to the natural environment that surrounds us and connects to something grander than just grand.

John C. Bader


New Responsive Universe Promo Video

It is hard to believe

It seems so long ago


New Years

And now the travel home

Healing trade winds

Unfettered coastline



Canyons abound

Fond memories intertwine

in the vines of my consciousness

As the final clouds float by

My adventure near done

To have visited something so amazing

Its vibrant sunset fleeting

Gone is the moment

Born is the inspiration

Living in the present

Ever so aware

It is the gift of the future

Responsiveness in the air


It is time to head home today. Thank you Kauai for the inspiration and energy. This is a special place!


John C. Bader


It is as if time has ceased here on Kauai. And then it feels as if time really does not matter in the grand scheme of things. Sure there is a dawn and a sunset – evidence of a new day passing. But much it seems remains the same: The trade winds blow, birds sing and life seems to move on with or without you. We are just shadows cast on another sunny day in the middle of the Pacific.

An old man died yesterday in the local town to the west of us.  I did not know him but he was a local here in Kauai. All his memories and love sealed on the kiss of consciousness that passed the symbolic torch from living to something unknown yet instinctually sublime. Yet, life will go on: The trade winds will continue to blow from the northeast and the sun will continue to rise and set; and that mans imprint left here in the islands will eventually be wiped clean by the sands of time.

Interesting I guess… Somehow, we are all connected to this thing called human existence. Life is a rite of passage; yet it can seem over washed and crude to be simply sponging life forms here on Earth: A boutique of bad habits, fears, instant gratification and desires. Yet, to hear the wind blow through the palm trees, the rustle of foliage and see the sun beaming through the veins of translucent leaves – to breathe in and out and feel alive right here, right now – somehow it is all enough for me.

I feel centered, reverent and despite my aching muscles and bones, I feel alive and aware. Kauai seems to accentuate this quality. Time does pass and it will continue to pass even in my absence. Still, there is a connective quality to this incredible painting of life – its colors awash with the contrasts and complexities of scenery and experience – its rough and ragged edges smoothed over by love and compassion.

As we grow older we tend to lose and gain – whether it is experiences, money, love or simply control. Today I feel connected to unexplainable synchronicities   – In control and targeted even though I do not know the future. I can’t fully explain the experience but I know it is right and that everything is as it should be. Sometimes that is enough. Today it is more than enough.

My time in Kauai is near done. I have enjoyed many meditative experiences and lessons while relaxing in the warmth of the pacific sun. Now, a week into the New Year, I am excited to see what new adventures lay ahead. I have faith that everything will work itself out and new clarity will arise from my future experiences. We all have a lot in common. We have a need for love and a desire to make a difference in life. I wish you the best of luck on your adventure and may 2012 be a great year for all of us.


John C. Bader


The time had come to make the long-awaited journey up to Koke’e which sits atop the green rain kissed mountains of Kauai. The mountains of Kauai are on record for being the wettest region in the world, seeing more rain in a week as compared to what some places see in years. Knowing this means we needed to carefully plan our travel to the center of the island based on current weather patterns. Seeing a break in the rain, we packed up and headed to Koke’e.

Koke’e is well-known for its spiritual energy.  It sits nestled atop the Waimea Canyon, normally shrouded in clouds, shadowed by towering trees and framed by the awesome painted walls of the 6 million year old canyon that journeys to the sea from the center of the island. It did not take long to realize that there is something special about Koke’e.

Our journey began from Kekaha, the western most village in the USA. From there by vehicle we scaled island plateaus, carnivorous ravines and green spiking peaks. We found this truly amazing mango tree on the side of the road. Its position was like a milestone to mindfulness. A towering tree surrounded by distant views of ocean in all directions – it was as if you just knew you were on the right path to something grand and sublime.

We drove through magnificent koa forests which gave way to norfolk pine and cedar woodlands. Tropical vines and flowers intertwined knarled root structure on the forest floor as moss and ferns dotted the shaded landscape. Down a secluded dirt road and away from touristy lookouts we found a quiet hiking path along a sleeping brook surrounded by only the sounds of birds and my own inner voice. Splintered light rained down like shards of energy – filtering through the branches and trees above.  Once centered, there was this curious feeling that there I sat on the top of the world in the middle of Pacific – with only blue sky and the Universe as my witness.

(please visit Twitter: @JohnCBader where you can see more pictures of Kauai)

John C. Bader



The sounds of Bob Marley permeate the vicinity as the rustle of trade winds bring movement and rustling leaf resonance to the tropical foliage and trees that surround my meditative beach head. The sounds of crashing waves in the distance seem to only add to the reggae music that anchors my mindfulness here in the present. A child’s laughter is heard somewhere behind me  – bottles clanking across the street as locals say “pau” and call it a short work day. An airplane in the distance, buzzing and sputtering home from its adventure; a bird calls to its companion as the day matures and invites dusk in for a short visit.

Being mindful of the present is an amazing gift. It sits on a metaphorical island paradise all by itself. Yet there is nothing desolate or negative about being rooted in the present –  With thoughts connected to what is simply NOW, one can find a surprisingly simple and unfettered gift. To be connected to the present, sans of fear and the past and future and fantasy; to be rooted in the present moment of life and your surroundings… Wow, what a feeling of clarity and reverence as I sit, simply soaking up sounds, sights and the thoughts driven by my mindfulness.



John C. Bader



Interestingly enough, I have settled into uncharacteristic surroundings on this retreat from the ordinary:  An errant washer and dryer discarded on the side of the house that appears as old as the 100 year old plantation cottages that reside here; about 50 feet away, a vintage school bus that has been claimed by the twisted vines and flowers of the jungle. Red dirt and rocks paint the uneven driveway bordered by wood piles, wild chickens and feral cats.  Rusty corrugated roof tops, wild banana bushels and towering mango trees. It is a collage of third world characteristics blended with unadulterated tropical beauty; and guess what, I love it!

My ego says I should be embarrassed by my lodging here on the west side of Kauai. It is a stark difference from the aesthetic home I keep in the northwest suburbs of Chicago or the resorts on the other side of the island. There is still this urge born out of my distant middle school years that says I should care what other people think.  Truthfully, it is a great lesson in life: To force yourself to swallow shallow pride and face your internal insecurities and doubts. This is a valuable message learned: To dig deep down and ground yourself to simplicity and True Nature. To see the beauty even among discarded junk and debris dotting a down trodden local neighborhood.

An old tire with a tropical flower growing out of its inner reaches, a gecko races along the rotted beam of a partially collapsed garage across the way. Blue sky above accented by a rainbow to the east as rain contemplates its journey across the island’s spine. Once grounded and centered, beauty is born from most things tangible. Here on this meditative retreat from the normal, I feel relaxed and aware – spacious and driven – my thoughts of the future, are the paying currency of wellness as I watch 2011 wane and disappear – only to remain as memories of the past.

John C. Bader




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Okay, okay… where am I?

Oh yeah, here we go… toothbrush, check!

Extra contact lenses; check!

Paid the monthly bills and actually have money left over for my trip; check!

Curious… I think I am in a Holiday whirlwind of festival lights and controlled chaos… With Christmas knocking yet again on the door of life, I am prepared to buck tradition and do something completely different this year:

Bodyboard and fins packed?  Check!

Lap top to blog from afar… Check!

Here is a recent shot of my front yard. By the way, it was 20 degrees F. this morning in Chicagoland. Brrrrrr….

Right now I am wearing an Aloha shirt with penguins barbecuing under palms trees adorned with Christmas lights. Who says I am not in the Xmas spirit? Spiked eggnog? Check!

Camera with extra batteries; check!

This is where I am traveling to on Christmas Day… The western most reaches of the United States:

Tis the season isn’t it?. My Birthday is actually the day after Christmas. It’s hard to compete with Jesus; yes you can feel sorry for me and yes I was screwed out of presents.

I have found that people are nicer on Christmas…

People are normally tired and hung over on my Birthday.

I think my favorite Holiday is New Years… I like that concept of “out with the old and in with the new”.  You kind of get a clean slate to start over. Last year I was a “Pirate looks at looking Forty” (I love that song by Jimmy Buffett). 2012 is going to be the year “That anything is Possible”.  I like adding a theme to my New Years expectations. Granted it is a little narcissistic, but it sets a bench mark that allows me the entire year in which to fulfill my destiny. This year I will be ringing in the New Year in simplistic tropical desolation. My 2012 expectations are left in the optimistic hands of the Universe. All I am going to do is be a little more patient, be more compassionate and hopefully karma will do the rest…

I hope your Christmas Holidays are wonderful and you find yourself in the arms with someone you love.

As for me?  Well, back to packing…

Sunblock? Check!

Hiking shoes? Check!

John C. Bader

Website: responsiveuniverse.com

Twitter: @JohnCBader

Facebook: The ResponsiveUniverse

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