The Paradox of Love — My Relationship with a Burning Hibiscus Flower

A quick story about the exquisite paradox and hilarity of life and love, summarized by a complex interaction with a hibiscus flower:

Today I had a wonderful conversation with the man who lives next to the Air BnB I’m managing while I live on the Big Island of Hawaii. A tree had fallen from my property on a car on his property, and we connected in total beauty and love over the experience.

Rather than jumping to anger or accusation, instead the baseline was openness and connection. We left the interaction with him offering me a hibiscus flower that he plucked from one of his trees.

We smiled at each other, seeing the divinity mutually that resides within us. His parting words to me were, Aloha ke akua.

I proceeded to put the hibiscus flower being my ear and went off to my next destination — the local grocery store, to pick up some cacao powder for my iced hemp milk latte.

I arrived at the store, and as I was standing in line, an older woman smiled at me and commented on the beauty of the hibiscus flower in my hair.

She then went on to tell me that if it was behind my left ear, it meant I was taken, if it was behind my right ear, it meant that I was available, and if it was in the back of my hair, it meant “follow me”.

I smiled, first because of the magic of the connection, second because I am currently practicing non-monogamy, and responded by asking: “What do I do with all three apply?” I smiled big, and her lips responded in turn with a beautiful knowing smile that matched mine.

We both paid, she parted ways, and I proceeded onto my next destination — my favorite café on the Big Island, The Tin Shack.

I want up to my favorite barista, with my bag of fresh cacao powder in my hand. She smiled, as she has made my special drink for me many times, and this is a place we get to love each other in.

She commented on the beautiful, and again I smiled and the magic of my day.

However, in this moment I began to notice that certain parts of my body were starting to burn.

First, on the tip of my left breast, second, just beneath my right arm pit, then on my belly, then on my thigh. I started to become preoccupied with the sensations, curious and concerned about what was happening.

She asked if I was okay, I said I didn’t quite know as my body was starting to burn, and she went off to make my drink.

Several minutes later, I went into the bathroom to figure out *what* was going on. This island is known for mysterious things, and I knew some further investigation was needed to discover the origin of my symptoms.

Upon closer investigation, I realized that the flower, and part so my skin at this point, were covered in fire ants — a “delicacy” of the Big Island in particular, and smaller than any ant I’d ever seen.

Slightly terrified at realizing what happened, yet relieved because I now understood the culprit and cause of my pain, I started to smile, again.

What a funny and perfect analogy my experience with this burning hibiscus flower was for the paradoxical nature of love.

Love can light us up and lift us up beyond what we could possible experience alone. And simultaneously, love can cause you to burn with a fiery and vengeful discomfort.

The burn can run so deep that it can make it seemingly impossible to focus on anything else other than the depth of its impact.

And really, that’s what we’re hear to learn.

We’re here to learn that we can’t choose the pleasure without also choosing the pain. We can’t embrace great joy if we aren’t also willing to embrace great suffering.

And as we come to terms with this paradox, that there is no light without the dark, we can begin to laugh, and not take life or love so seriously.

It’s the unbearable lightness of being, and I am grateful to be able to see this magic manifest itself as little stories and vignettes of magic in my every day reality. And my wish, is that you are able to see it as well.

Aloha ke akua. I love you.

Arielle Brown
Intimacy Coach for Visionaries & Couples

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