A new Hawaiian Facebook friend named Michael asked me, “Olelo Hawai’i Oe?” So out came the Hawaiian dictionary in which I found out “Olelo” means “speak” and “Oe” means “you.” So it became clear that he was asking if I speak Hawaiian. I wrote back that I don’t yet although I am picking up words here and there and that I hope to get better at it once I am living in the Hilo area. What I did not tell him is that I have a secret feeling of inadequacy in regard to learning a new language stemming mostly from never having adequately learned what all the various parts of speech are and do. I had 2 years of Spanish in college but in no way can it be said of me that I speak Spanish!
We can get so used to doing what we do in the way we do it that if we are not careful curiosity can go into “sleep-mode.” This happens bit by bit as we “settle-for” things and situations rather than demanding more OF ourselves. With “Well, it’s not SO bad” a mediocrity settles for what is currently reachable even though the deadening constancy of that familiarity ever so slowly smothers our soul. And then the day finally comes when one awakens to the fact that their life has settled into a soul-crushing mediocrity and a preference for ease over the discomfort of stretching one’s body, one’s interests and one’s mind! Without that stretching we gradually lose the ability to even do what we currently can do! It has been said we won’t change until the problem hurts enough! If we invest so much of our life into not stressing ourselves then the day may come where we awaken to how much it hurts but may no longer be ABLE to change!
So the next morning as I sat outside in our “summer morning mists (a.k.a. steambath)” watching a beautiful Savannah sunrise Michael’s question kept occurring in my mind, “Olelo Hawai’i Oe?” I suddenly realized that the way I had chosen to deal with my language-inadequacy fear has been by not dealing with it! I mean, I speak English so what more do I need, right? As I watched the sunrise and pondered these thoughts a second sunrise occurred within me… I now need to be curious about this avoidance! On some essential level it is now time for me to stretch my curiosity beyond that old fear and start learning more about the Hawaiian language! I purchased a book with two discs in it and have begun a daily half-hour session of beginner’s Hawaiian! What a blessing for me Michael’s question has turned out to be! Is there a question for you about which you too should become curious?