Venus had just crested the Giant and it was cold, dark and starry — quite suitably, on this new moon day, which is also Imbolc, the mid-point between the winter solstice and spring equinox — when Koko and I went out walking.
Stars shone through tree tops, crowned mountain tops, filled an expanse of sky that spanned mauka to makai, while beside us, a sea of mist rose up from the hollows of the pasture and lapped at its edges. It was so beautiful that I had to go out again, an hour later, and watch the world turn gold-pink, Waialeale blush lavender, the mist-sea recede, like low tide.
And through it all I was thinking of a man I visited at the Regency at Puakea yesterday, a man whose mind was, not all that long ago, sharp, focused, prone to brilliant observations and reflections, intensely curious about the world, and adding greatly to the body of knowledge that is Hawaiian cosmology.
Now, as he told me, his mind is all over the place, though when it comes to rest it still imparts penetrating insights, probes the puzzles and mysteries of why we are here, what came before us.
I had last seen him in October 2004, in the parking lot of the Anahola store, where he was sharing some deep wisdom with David Boynton, who is gone now, and me. He had developed a theory about Hawaii heiau and their connection to the stars and sacred sites around the world that was so fascinating, so intriguing, that I went home and wrote it down.
Knowing that he was old, and in frail health, I kept thinking that I should search him out, follow up on his teachings, see where his further explorations had led him, but as so often happens in the busyness and preoccupations — so many of them trivial — that characterize modern life, I put it off for weeks, months, years, until this past weekend I ran across the pages where I had recorded the conversation that still stands out in my mind, though others rarely do.
His number was no longer listed, and I was uncertain if he was still alive, but I found him through Google and asked if I might visit, and he said yes, and I brought along those notes and read them to him, hoping they would stir his memory, prompt him to tell me more, but he just smiled and shook his head.
He handed me a stack of papers, saying perhaps they contained something that might be useful, and as I leafed through them, I saw that he had written about the topic that had captivated me, but the pages were out of order, and many were missing, and I realized I might never be able to fill in the missing pieces.
And I was reminded again of the folly of waiting, of postponing, of thinking that there is still time, when time indeed is running short, and I thought of how so many of our intellectual pursuits die with us, and I wondered, is the love we create, the service we provide, any more enduring?
Just then he looked at me, and his mind came to rest and I saw clarity in his eyes.
“Take note of what interests you,” he counseled, “because you never know when it might pass your way again.”