Do you ever find yourself in the middle of an extreme work day, daunting tasks ahead of you, deadlines, meetings, chaos. You stop, take a deep breath, look back at your life and wonder: "How did I get here?"
I had that moment on a recent trip to Kaua'i with my wife. I found myself on an extraordinarily beautiful hike with mountains, the Pacific, my love and a soft tropical breeze when I stopped and wondered: "How did I get here?" To be fair, I was actually wondering, how did here get to me.
How did this Garden of Eden come to exist? Looking out at this deep, red colored rock, I thought about how some 50 million years ago the Pacific tectonic plate shifted and began moving northwest so that by about 5 million years ago it crossed over the Hawaiian hot spot and the birth of this archipelago begun. But my quest for where I was went deeper. This red rock is red from iron, a heavy metal element which is only fused in the aftermath of a supernova, a relic stars death.
So many billions of years ago, a massive star exploded after it exhausted its hydrogen supply of fuel. During its explosion it became so intensely hot that it began fusing elements together, including iron, which then traveled at incredible speeds, through our galaxy, into our solar system and collided with asteroids, debris and dust until it snowballed into the blue marble we call home.
After 4.5 billion years of turmoil, this chunk of iron found itself beneath our planet's crust, just at the same time the Pacific plate, chartered it's new course. Packed with immense heat directly from the Earth's core, the iron left the crust, destined for greater things. It collected and collected and collected, spewed out as magma until it finally broke the surface of the Pacific.
Roughly 5 million years of hurricanes, salt spray, wind and rain exposed away the black lava rocks to reveal this iron rich underbelly and oxidized it, creating beautiful red colored rust. Just in time for me to catch a 757 crowded with 158 others, stuffed into economy, traveling halfway across the Pacific at almost the speed of sound, in order to hike, think, and wonder just how here got to me.