On October 13th, 2006 I flew from Honolulu to Kona to visit the St. Juvenaly Orthodox Christian community there. The highly accomplished artist, Darrell Hill, and his wife Pat, let me stay in a small apartment attached to Darrell’s gallery and studio in Holualoa. On the morning of Sunday, the 15th, at 7:07:49am, I was sitting on the toilet when the magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck!
At first I became aware of a rumbling sound as if a delivery truck was parked in the drive next to Darrell’s gallery, and I found myself thinking, “Who makes deliveries on a Sunday morning?” The next thing I knew I was on the floor with the whole building shaking, things in the next room crashing, and me trying to get my pants pulled up! I kept trying to crawl out of the bathroom but the floor kept disappearing from under me, only a second later to be there again for me to thump into! While I scrambled about on my hands and knees, pants somehow having become successfully buckled around my waist, I heard a very clear dialogue going on within myself: “Is this it? Is this how I’m going to die? Is this a bad quake? How would I know, I haven’t ever been in one?!”
Quite often as I’m doing artwork I have two dialogues going on simultaneously: that of my eye and hands with the artwork, and that of my mind and heart about some other issue, each discussion somehow mysteriously enabled and freed by the other! Having made decisions about the piece as I went along, like choosing certain words, I often end up with something which is leagues away from what I had intended when I began! And with my mind and heart having had their discussion, I often find that a clarified issue is connected within me to the final piece.
Hawaiʻi, especially the Big Island, often has to deal with earthquakes but I suspect that the strongest one it has to deal with is that of wrestling with Western/non-Hawaiian values. Hawaiians seem to understand that no one can really “own” the land. Rather, that the land is entrusted to us for a time of stewardship, for which we will one day have to give an accounting. The same is true for Hawaiʻi’s values which were given by the Ancestors for our use, to then be passed on to those who come after us.
Western values so overly-emphasize the pursuit of finding oneself above everything else! Every time that self-pursuit crashes into kuleana and ʻohana and aloha I suspect that psychic and spiritual tremors are set off within the Hawaiian individual! But just as I eventually scrambled out of that bathroom and into the backyard, I am convinced that Hawaiʻi’s people will come out of the Hawaiʻi/West discussion intact! Having had to take out and look at its values, its inheritance, and its culture, Hawaiʻi’s people will have clarified for themselves and thereby more fully possess who they are.