Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mahalo Moloka'i

I love finding unexpected gifts.... this one when I walked over to Make (maw-kee) Horse Beach for sunset.

It's no secret that I do love Moloka'i. I love looking out the big window right now, seeing the pink and purple clouds floating by, and watching how the sun's morning rays are lighting up the sculpted limbs of the Kiawe trees. I'm loving how fall rain is turning the dry landscape of the central and west portions of the island green again, starting with a lazy strip down each side of the road, then a few days later, as the strips widen, the fields and hills themselves taking on the subtle color, like a soft sage peach fuzz covering the ground. And I love the break we're having this morning from the fierce trade winds of the last few days, that have hurled sand like little stingers against my legs, and send my car bouncing to and fro; the great quiet that is only truly appreciated because of the contrast.

But even more than her vast physical beauty, I have come to love her people, their fiery spirit, their sense of community, their embrace. It is like a small town but spread out over the miles of the island. (Well... let's be honest here... spread out over the entire island except the west end, which seems to be a country unto its own, filled pretty much with moneyed white folks who venture into town only when they need gas or food or beverage.)

Four times in these months I've been here, I've experienced car trouble, once way out around mile marker 23 on the east end, where it is very remote, and the road is one very small lane, often with a sheer dropoff straight into the ocean (though a pretty stunning place to be stuck!). That was the third time I'd been stranded by the side of the road, but even way out there, I was not concerned, because I knew from experience by then that someone would always stop and ask if they could help. That day, many someones stopped, one giving me water for my radiator once the car cooled down enough to put it in, another telling me that on his way back, if I was still there, he'd give me a ride into town. I couldn't help but think, marveling at the beauty of the blue, blue water against the stark black lava rock, as each car that approached slowed to a stop, how different it would have been in the hustling, bustling bay area, thousands of cars speeding by not even noticing me, much less stopping to offer aid.

There is so much to love here in addition to others caring enough to help out when help is needed. I love the sweet, "rough-around-the-edges" (thank you, Lindsay!) uniqueness of this place. I love the passionate spirit of the people, and how you can't drive a block without seeing a homemade protest sign of one kind or another. I love the colorful signs that greet you when you leave the airport. The way everyone kisses hello and goodbye, be they strangers or best friends. How the elders, the kupuna, are all "aunties" and "uncles," a title of respect, how family, ohana, extends far beyond mere blood ties. On a personal level, I love how generously I have been embraced by those whose company I have been priviledged to share; made to feel not just welcome, but that I belong, that I have something to offer Moloka'i, that in fact, I really must, return (music to my ears!). I have come to love town, anything east of town, as well as "upcountry," where the wind sings its beautiful melodies as it whips through the tops of the ironwood trees. I have been told by people who "know," that my experiences here on Moloka'i are only beginning. I believe I will return, and have come to know with certainty that when I do, it will be there, to central island or east, and not the west end, which provided its own staggering beauty as well as desperately needed solitude and retreat for the first two months, but not the people (some of whom feel like old, old friends suddenly re-found) and community that have magically appeared and received and embraced me in my last month here. Perhaps more than anything, I love the everyday miracles I have begun to experience here, that have blown me away, that have humbled the hell out of me, that have confirmed and affirmed what I only "believed" in the beginning to be true - that there truly is magic afloat here, that this truly is one of the strongest, most spiritual places on earth.

After much resistance, I've hauled my suitcase from the closet and begun to fill it. I'm doing laundry, cleaning out the fridge, organizing. I've been to the beach to ask if there might be a rock, or shell, or piece of driftwood that might want to venture back to the mainland with me, keep me company, and return with me again when I return. (Always ask, I am learning. Never so much as move a rock or pick a flower without asking its consent. For all things are filled with mana, life force energy, and must be loved and respected). I have two important dates on my calendar these last two days. I'll give you a hint: both involve hearing and experiencing the lovely spirit and outrageously moving music of Lono live... :)

It is fitting that I return home the week of Thanksgiving. Never in my life have I been more aware of all that there is to be thankful for. What an enormous, earth-shattering, amazing turn around. What an enormous, earth-shattering, amazing gift.

What can I possibly say other than thank you...

The journey continues. To those of you who have come on board for this portion only, these months in Moloka'i, big mahalo. I hope my words have done her well, have brought her to life for you a little, maybe even a lot. I wish you safe and blessed passages on your own journeys. To those who will continue to follow as the journey into the unknown continues to unfold, big mahalo as well... and many, many blessings. The next Musings will be from the mainland.

From the core of my being, fat salty tears streaming down my cheeks, I say mahalo, mahalo; for her spirit, for the fire that formed her, for the land, the water, the pristine air; for Teri and the wonderful dream and space of Kalele Bookstore, to Auntie Snookie, to sweet, sweet Nan (sister re-found), Auntie Cathy; to Lono for moving me more than I ever knew music could move me, blasting my heart wide open; to Lawrence and Kawika, for one of the most amazing days of my life, in the most beautiful, most sacred place I've ever had the privilege of being (bug bites and all!).

To Isaac, beloved kumu, who wouldn't give up on me, who had the audacity to wish me joyful reentry, and which changed everything.

And to my cherished ohana stateside, Chris, Annie, Katie, Cindy, for loving me enough, for showing by example, for setting me free, for unselfishly and unconditionally supporting me and helping me grow, spread my wings, and fly. I love you more than you can ever know.

With great aloha, aloha nui loa, from beautiful, staggering, loving, challenging, magical, mystical, life-giving, healing, treasured Moloka'i...

and p.s... I finally found out yesterday that it is the shama bird that has the beautiful, haunting song that will forever be Moloka'i for me.

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