So, Hawai'i - as in, 'I've always dreamed of...' or 'I will go before I die...' or'I once went and it was incredible...' (versions of which'Iokepa and I hear daily) - becomes the metaphor.
And that metaphor is not just the fantasy of a tropical Island paradise - beaches, coconuts, and aloha. It is the fantasy of the way life can be lived, should be lived, once was lived - without greed, competition, judgement, fear, racism, war - and strangers regarded as the other.
That is what exists in every one of those "I will go...I must go..." assertions. It is the yearning for what our nature already knows: the Eden within our own hearts - the compassion, the trust, the fearlessness, the there is no stranger. It is our inborn responsibility for every bit of creation, of nature, of life.
Our work - my husband 'Iokepa Hanalei 'Imaikalani's and mine, which employs the genuine tools of the aboriginal Hawaiian culture - is about so much more than the Native Hawaiian righteous plea for sovereignty or freedom from oppression. It is about personal and cultural freedom on every inch of this planet. It is about awakening that metaphoric Hawai'i in every breath we breathe, with every cantankerous soul we encounter - and in every Redwood tree our automobile collides with. Our work is to remind even ourselves of the last words on the last page ofGrandmothers Whisper:
"We could not have foreseen the collapsing world economy.
"But we know this: security is our birthright. We do not lose our compassion, our responsibility for one another, our ability to give and receive - our very lives -unless we agree to it.
"No circumstance and no person can take away what we were born with - our deep connection to every part of creation and to one another - unless we agree to surrender it."
So our work is to remind ourselves and others of what already resides in each of us: the choices that we are free to make; the remembering in every breath the Hawai'i that we yearn to touch and to inhabit.
Our work is greater than just the freedom of this one oppressed people to show the world their stuff. Within this ancient culture there lay the possibility to remind us, inflame us, and inspire us to help this world flex and touch its long-forgotten toes.
It is within the words and the worlds of this one particular ancient culture, that my husband carries to his people and to the world, to incite the fantasy of the tropical Island that sustained and nurtured life in its multifarious forms - and to acknowledge the human responsibility for each of those parts.
Already, we know (like we know the place our toes sit when we stretch to touch them for the first time after couch-potato years of of no-use). We are permitted no more excuses for not bending, not reaching. 'Hawai'i' awaits.