On a recent trip to Hilo, Hawaii I ate half a cup of poke (a salad of raw fresh tuna, herbs, spices, oils and vinegars). For any who have read my previous blogs about my knee-jerk negative reaction to raw seafood this news might generate some astonishment; Lord knows, when I discovered that I wanted to eat it the news startled me about myself! It was delicious, tender, and not at all fishy tasting. The deciding factor for my willingness to eat it is that I want to fully embrace Hawaiian culture, and poke is a big part of that culture.
In a short-story by Paul Theroux entitled “I’m the meat, you’re the knife” I read the following: “…sickness shows us who we really are by making us too weak to pretend.” That immediately clicked with me. How much of the troubles in our life can be ascribed to our pretending… to knowing the answers when we haven’t a clue, to being happy when we aren’t, to knowing where our life is going when it is a blurred mystery to us, to pretending to dislike something about which we have little or no experience… like poke?
When we are seriously ill we are too weak to put up a front, to wear a mask, or to sell a false bill of goods to others or ourselves. Part of the misery when we are confined to our bed arises from the fact that there are two of us in that bed: The one who puts on a mask when facing the world, and the one who knows that our lies are lies. Being unable to escape ourselves and our thoughts we are forced to taste the current flavor of our inner life, and that can be dismaying. So as we lay there and ponder aspects about ourselves that need some attention the mystery surrounding changing comes to mind: Is the risk of saying “no” greater than the risk of saying “yes” to change? Where will change take me? Where will I end up if I DON’T change?
The fact is that when we are motivated enough to do something (like eating poke) we can generate the willingness to do it; it’s when we don’t want to do something that excuses for staying the way that we are begin to seem valid to us. So in regard to the issue of change, it boils down to whether or not we want to; whether or not we want to change will be dependant upon whether or not the need to change seems urgent! Waiting to change until the need is urgent, however, can be risky: When the ship is sinking seems to be a little late to learn how to swim.
The older I become the more I am aware that maybe I don’t have all the days to change that I assumed I had when younger. So this trip I ate more fish in general (not my usual menu), I ate poke, I ate papaya and I drank coconut water. And you know what? I liked all it! Who knew! Certainly not me! I wonder what else about myself I don’t know? How about you?