We - every last one of of us - build walls that we hope, pray, and assume, will protect us from life's vicissitudes - from the winds of change. We call them: career, family, home, reputation, insurance policies (health, house, automobile... more). We'veheard about folks who were terminated from jobs they'd held for a lifetime. We know that divorce happens, and that children disappoint. We've read that people's houses are foreclosed, that they declared bankruptcy. We have seen respectable people exposed for shameful behavior. We realize that human bodies get sick and (Don't speak of it!) die.
We hope - and expect - that those people are not us. They live on the other side of town - or down the street.
There was a reason why there are 160 different words for the, "Wind" in the Hawaiian language. These people, who lived on the most isolated archipelago on the planet and who's very survival depended on an intimate familiarity with the natural world, knew full well that their walls, literally and figuratively, existed for this breath alone - that they may not stand up to the next.
The United States economy is, in this breath, delivering the exact same aboriginal message: Our homes are going, going, gone, our jobs are going... our retirement savings... Our protective walls are failing to protect us. We feel exposed, betrayed, and frightened. I am no longer speaking about the people across town. This time, it is us.
But what does Huliau - The Return Voyagehave to do with mortgages, 401k accounts, and bail-outs? What indeed?
At the bottom line: Huliau is the conscious return to that which we are born knowing, that which we carry in our very cells, the ancient wisdom etched into our DNA by our aboriginal ancestors. "We are all descendants of indigenous peoples," 'Iokepa has said. Huliau - -The Return Voyage asks that we reclaim our gifts - and use them.
In this particular economic breath, that reclaiming is a necessity.
At a personal level, my heart breaks for our struggling friends- wealthy and not so wealthy - as the winds shift, the walls erected to protect crumble, and the word, "security" takes on a very different meaning. But my life's work is about something more than compassion for the pain of friends and strangers. Return Voyage offers a hand, an alternative view, a human story that may inspire confidence: Wall-less, jobless, house-less - and still secure.
It has been twelve years now, since 'Iokepa precipitously surrendered the many walls that supported his comfort, and his dreams of stasis for forty-six years: business, home, material abundance. I joined him one year later. We have been adamant in these years - that our voluntary surrender of career, home and identity - is our path alone. We were not evangelizing surrender.
We have learned in these years a very different kind of, "security."
We were required to build confidence that (like my husband's aboriginal ancestors) we can hear the answer to our prayers in the 160 different winds. "Kukulu ke 'ike i ka 'opua - there is knowledge in the clouds."
We needed to convince ourselves that our connection to the natural world and its source is benevolent, protective, and loving. We had to assure ourselves that whatappears unseen is see-able; what is unheard is hear-able. We had to strengthen those flaccid muscles in our connections: Even without a house we would not be homeless; without a paycheck we would not starve; without health insurance we could heal.
"Our survival depended on it," 'Iokepa has said. Living in tents on beaches, eating mangoes that fell from private property onto public streets, losing weight (but not faith), we reclaimed that "security."
This past year, after ten years on the beaches, we left our Islands. For twelve months and 26,000 car-miles we criss-crossed the continental United States. We made our faithful way from one tankful of gas, to the next. Huliau - The Return Voyage was the obvious next step on our journey. It was time to tell our story and share our message. We have only just begun.
We have described our stripped-to-the-bone life to friends and strangers - people who trusted their own multi-layered, protective walls. We couldn't have foreseen the collapsing world economy. We are not economists: We didn't have a phone, an Internet connection, a newspaper subscription or a place to park our 16 year old Camry overnight, for ten years. Yet we were led - fully conscious - on our journey, knowing that somehow, some day, what we chose to live on these Islands would bolster hope and confidence in what other people might be forced to endure.
"Security" is our birthright. Greedy Fortune 500 companies can take our retirement accounts - but not our faith. Corrupt mortgage brokers can devalue our homes, but not our confidence in ourselves. We can lose our jobs, our insurance, our ability to fill a gas tank, but 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.
Wall Street's decisions cannot take away what we were born with - our deep connections to every part of Creation and to one another - unless we agree to surrender it.