Monday, October 1, 2012

Musings: Pay Attention

Up and out early, walking with moon shadows, mine and the dogs, beneath a shiny-faced Mahina accompanied by Venus, Jupiter and those stars bold enough to shine through the silver light that washes the sky. Fog creeps out of the pasture, hovers over the pavement, embraces us as we move through, provoking chicken skin. An hour later, sun rises, setting camphor trees aflame with alpenglow, an orange globe directly opposite a white disc slipping toward yellow-green mountains.

I was driving through Anahola yesterday morning, heading south, looking at the mountains, the pastures, aware of how parched the island feels, but it's not just drought. She's drained, depleted, and I thought of a kahuna who told me almost no one is tending Kauai anymore, saying the ancient prayers, leaving the customary offerings that foster a connection, reinforce the appreciation for water, land, air, the essential ingredients of life. And I wonder what we lost when we turned away from those rituals of earth acknowledgement — not just here, but all over the world.

Later, at the Pow-Wow, drums pounding, I smiled at a Native American man from Minnesota, a man who carves stone pipes in the traditional way, and right off the bat he started telling me about the places you can just feel, even if you're not a tribesman, and they touch you somehow and you know it, because you get teary-eyed, or the gooseflesh. And those are the sacred places, he said. Not everyone feels it, but those who do know they have to be protected, because they are the special places.

Yes, I replied, there are places like that on Kauai, too, the wahi pana, and you can feel them, even if you're not Hawaiian, if you just pay attention.

That's exactly it, he said, you gotta pay attention. You gotta stop and get quiet. And it's not just feeling special places. Maybe you have dreams, or you hear voices. Maybe you can just read people, know all about them the moment you meet them, or read messages in the clouds. You'll always get people telling you, oh, there's nothing to it, it's all superstition, crazy talk. But you know it's real, because you've experienced it. So it doesn't matter what people say.

I nodded, teary-eyed, flesh puckered into chicken skin, thinking of how just two days earlier a friend had spoken to me of a Kealia sunrise made spectacular by the cloud formations, and how clouds had something to say, if we just look, and the Hawaiians knew it, and did look, which is exactly what the kahuna had told me, years ago.

Home from the Pow-Wow, the man's words in my head, the phone rings, and it's a friend who has pulled over near the bell stone in Wailua, because he suddenly felt a need to talk to me, from the quiet of a sacred place, and he tells me of how he was driving along the highway, one recent morning and saw not just one rainbow, or a double, but 10, stacked on top of one another above the heiau, and he was so stunned that he had to pull over and get out of his car, but all around him, everyone kept going. “I'm standing there, going, wow, this is so unreal, so special, and it was like they never even saw it.”

I thought of the man at the Pow-Wow, and his admonishment: you gotta pay attention.

Then I thought of a video I'd happened upon that morning, where John Trudell was talking about the “great lie of civilization, the predator energy that feeds upon the essence of the spirit,” the process of “mining our minds,” the spread of the mind disease that has allowed us to "accept the unacceptable."
And I know some will say this is all crazy talk, superstition, there's nothing to it. But others of you know, because you've felt it too, and you understand.

Pay attention.


Elaine Albertson said...

Yes, I understand. My heart aches when I hear "local" people talk about transplants as if they are all unfeeling, heartless, greedy dolts. Many of those same complainers are so wrapped up in "how it was" that they cannot feel how it IS.

We have to get past this us vs. them mentality. We are all the "us," and we are all the "them." How we conduct ourselves, how we connect with the Earth, Sea, and Sky that are our sustenance, is what is important.

We can be "modern" and still maintain that connection. It is the greed of a few that spoils real progress for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiment but Mr. or Mrs. Bullshit is a clear example of the ignorance that needs to be overcome.

Anonymous said...

true story

Anonymous said...

10:25 is part of the problem. No wonder they anonymous. I am a local, lived here all my life, and Elaine is not wrong. I'm anonymous because lolos like 10:25 like to get back. Probably not even kanaka maoli.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Albertson opened that door.

She goes on to say: "Many of those same complainers are so wrapped up in "how it was" that they cannot feel how it IS."

I want to assure you that much of the problem is the fact that the "complainers" can definitely FEEL HOW IT IS.

You describe these anonymous voices as "complainers" which may very well be kanakas. So it dismays me that you should attempt to exude any semblance of cultural sensitivity OR sensibility.

So, I just wish you wouldnʻt be such a ʻvoiceʻ of authority sometimes.

Joan started with a neutral appreciation of what is and out of the gate you raise the flag.

If you assume Iʻm haole, you are correct. If you assume that I donʻt know what Iʻm talking about, you are INcorrect.

I am married to a kanaka and I feel, to my bones, what he endures. The amount I feel, as great as it is, can never completely parallel his depth of pain and losses to the "way it IS".

For me though, the fact that you state (rather callously)
"Many of those same complainers are so wrapped up in "how it was" just demonstrates that you have no appreciation of history and that if we do not understand it, we are destined to repeat it.

You do not come off as a civil individual.

So this is how it IS, Ms. Albertson: Your Congress of the U.S. confirmed what the complainers have been saying all along...the archipelago of Hawaii is still un-ceded to the state of Hawaii and ownership (real title) lies with the inherent sovereign.

Anonymous said...

and we all see how well that's working out for you.

Welcome, again, to 'Merica.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

I've been rich and I've been is better, especially in 'Merica.

Glad I'm immune to it all.

Anonymous said...

You can moan and groan about the way it was but sensible people put their energy into the here and now. It is way more productive to look forward than it is to look to the past and fret over what you perceive has been lost.
We all have a vote and an equal say into the way it is now or at least to the degree that we can fend off corporate interests. It is going to take all of us working together to create the changes in society that foster the reconnecting to the Earth, Sea and Sky. Energy put into dividing people, government and society along ethnocentric lines will only delay the process.

Anonymous said...

We have to know where we came from in order to look to the future. Part of the problem is that we don't learn from our history, the lessons of the past are forgotten and therefore repeated over and over. Kanaka faced the future looking back on the knowledge of their ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Joan...Thanks for introducing Jim Trudell.....his songs and beat have Heart and Spirit ....his words, blood and bone.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

The Hawaiian kingdom was a multi plural and multi racial nation. Unfortunately most of those who talk about reinstating it want to do so in a fashion that divides rather than brings people together. Blood quanta is a lousy way for any government to determine how it is going to treat its citizens as is how long one's ancestors have lived in a place. If there is any lesson to be learned from looking back in history this would be one of them. Your ethnic background should be a non factor in regard to how government treats us. I am all for cultural pride and preservation but not at the expense of the political rights of others. Indigenous rights do not trump the more inclusive human rights of all those living in our society. If there are people who need a hand up let's help them on the basis of their individual need not on how much "magic blood" they have.

Anonymous said...

Blood quantum was a foreign concept until Americans introduced and forced it on to the Hawaiian Homes Act and it has served to divide amd conquer. In the Hawaiian Kingdom, all ethnicities were citizens of the nation. It was American businessmen who attached property and English speaking requirements to voter eligibility in Hawaii that kept Asians and Kanaka Hawaii from voting as was done to the blacks in the American south. Racism and cultural divide was introduced by foreigners for their political and financial benefit.

Anonymous said...

"Racism and cultural divide was introduced by foreigners for their political and financial benefit."

I would not disagree. I would suggest that we don't go down this path today as some sort of payback.

Government treating citizens differently because of how much of any kind of blood they have is akin to apartheid.

Anonymous said...

TO October 2, 2012 6:11 AM:

Correction on your comment.
"Unfortunately most of those who talk about reinstating it want to do so in a fashion that divides rather than brings people together."

You are mistakenly referring to state processes such as AKAKA bill, Fed. Recognition, OHA, Kau Inoa, Native Roll Call, etc.

But NOT those who wish to "reinstate". Those people are doing correctly. There is no blood quantum racist tactics in their process.

This sentence bewilders me: "I am all for cultural pride and preservation but not at the expense of the political rights of others."

And this means what? This is all occurring at the political expense of Hawaiian Nationals. Is that what you mean to say or are you referring to the people that now call Hawaii home after moving here?

Anonymous said...

I am glad to know that there are those who are talking about not using blood quantum in regard to a re-instated Hawaiian kingdom but you list a whole bunch of groups who are pushing blood quantum. The State's political establishment certainly is including both Democrats and Republicans and they have by far the loudest and best funded voices.

Defeating the Akaka bill should be first and foremost in any agenda thinking about reinstating anything. Once that is accomplished let's see how far the idea of reinstatement goes when you factor in the need for the consent of the governed to be legitimate. It seems dubious to me that a majority of the people now living in Hawaii are going to choose a reinstated kingdom versus being the 50th State.

I'd go along with a majority decision but would vigorously resist any attempt to force it on me by undemocratic means.