Every year I look forward to the Merrie Monarch Festival and my annual hula-binge! My brother Dan in Waikīkī records the three evenings of competition on his VCR and sends me the tapes. When that “hula box” arrives here in Rincon I disconnect the phone, pour myself a double bourbon and go on a non-stop spree watching this fantastically beautiful art for hour after hour! I most appreciate the Hula Kahiko. Watching each hālau as the women or men dance together I am struck by their sensitivity and awareness of one another which enables the entire hālau to move in sync.
It seems to me that the hula is a perfect expression of the Hawaiian sense of “living in harmony” with people, with the land, with the Divine. This sense of “living in harmony” implies a respectful stance toward Life and others, a curtailing or disciplining of the desires of the Self for the benefit of all. Some today have a knee-jerk reaction to the concept of “self-discipline” as if the restriction of one’s desires is a form of imprisonment. In fact the reality is just the opposite! Obedience… whether to persons, place, or heritage… calls for an alert attentiveness which enables the individual to be aware of more than just the confining desires of the Self.
What I have been able to take in about Hawaiian values is that what the Self wants is not the paramount value of what is good for all in the Canoe. How different this is from the Mainland over-emphasis on the Self above all else! Sometimes the freedom that we yearn for comes only through the acceptance of certain restrictions. Surprisingly these restrictions sharpen one’s awareness much as fasting makes one even more aware of food! And Lord knows there would be much less mayhem in our lives were we more aware of what we want, what we’re doing, and where we’re going! (click pics for larger)