A dear friend, who graciously hosts us when our work takes us to New York City, posed this semi-sardonic question. She'd read our post announcing that - after eighteen years sleeping in tents, car seats, and rapidly shifting house-sits - we'd been gifted a home of our own. Her question prodded me. Clearly we owe our readers a bit more of the story. Snug in an actual "home of our own" (and no, we neither own it, nor do we pay the expenses involved in owning); we have been gifted its permanence and its comforts. We chose it, no strings attached.
How have our lives changed?
"There are reasons that we are no longer living at the edge of the ocean, after years on the beaches," 'Iokepa Hanalei 'Imaikalani said. "Now we face East looking at two mountains: Alikoko (reminding us it's the heart of the Island) and Haupu (telling us to remember). We're here to touch hearts and to remind others of the ancestors' words. Our opportunities have changed with this house."
'Iokepa named our home, Na Ka'a Mea. Literally, it means "Changing of the Winds." Metaphorically, it means "Changing Minds."
"This is about a new conversation," 'Iokepa said. "There are people on the North Shore of this Island who never speak to the people on the West Side. There are economic and ethnic differences that lock us into enclaves, factions. And yet," 'Iokepa said, "we all say that we love the Island. What exactly does that mean? It's time to break down those walls. Na Ka'a Mea speaks to purpose. This house becomes the physical center of the conversation, of our work.
"This is no longer about my nineteen years, or our stories; it's not about our living on the beaches," he said. "More to the point, it is about what's the best for the Islands - it can't be less than that."
Some years ago, a bookstore owner in Atlanta proposed making bumper stickers. They would simply read: "Save Hawai'i From Ourselves." We loved the idea, though we're not the folks who typically display our hearts on the bumper of our car.
To that end, I'm going to do the unthinkable as a writer. I'm going to break into my thoughtful narrative here, to insert a recommended link to the narrative of a complete stranger. This half-an-hour film - sent to us by an old friend on the Island of Hawai'i - is a compelling and engaging statement of both the Native Hawaiian land wisdom, and the destructive threat to their land and to the people.
Here it sits. I ask that you continue to the end of my own post before you bury yourself in this very powerful film. http://ainafeeds.us/film
From the profound to the personal: "Do you miss the sand between your toes?"
We live now on one acre of land - two thirds of it invasive jungle. 'Iokepa has spent a significant chunk of his three-months at home with a 20-inch chainsaw appended to his arm - clearing trees with the intention of allowing sunlight to penetrate our little acre and the subsequent restoration of endemic and indigenous species - kukui nut trees and much more.
I've spent a considerable portion of my days with hands deep in the hard, red dirt - digging beds for papaya and banana trees, plumeria and gardenia. For eighteen years, I've lived in the most climate-friendly spot on earth and have never had the privilege of a garden. I'd left my gardening tools back in Portland, Oregon when I moved here. Now that, too, has changed.
And so, where does the profoundly public and the intimately private meet for 'Iokepa and for me? It meets, clearly, in ka 'aina - the Native Hawaiian soil. 'Iokepa said: This house is about trust - and responsibility." We're far too busy living our purpose to miss the sand between our toes.