The other day I was sitting at the beach with my favorite family on the west-side of the Island. These are some of the most brilliant sharing kind and compassion people I know. This is a woman who has taken on more personal responsibility than most of us could ever imagine. She has died a death of the mind and of the heart and has entirely rebuilt her ego on the maxims of selfless service, endless acceptance, relentless innovation, and consistent love, community, and inclusion. Despite being one of my dearest teachers on the island here she also happens to be one of the most incredible mothers and practicers of spiritual law that I have ever had the pleasure to encounter.
Don’t even get me started on her daughters. They’re the best thing this world has ever seen.
So anyway we’re sitting on the beach and the sun is shining and we’re looking out on this outrageously beautiful bay. The water is so crystal blue and the wind is blowing so gently upon the shore. This is more picturesque than I can even really imagine and the fact that my eyes get to see such sites on a regular basis is beyond me and the reason I am so often filled with this amazing sense of wonder at what this beautiful world has to offer us when we let go and decide to just be open to the endless possibilities in store.
So now that you can picture this scene we’ve got to zoom in for a second because on this beach is something I’d never seen before. There on the shore with an open canvas covering above his head is a man in a wheelchair. his feet are just barely in the water and he is surrounded by children playing and splashing and laughing. shortly after I learned these little angels were the culmination of his ancestry, his whole Hawaiian family, his children and nieces and nephews, his beloved little ones, his offspring. in a few moment the scenario becomes much more clear. he’s been given 4 days to live. today is day four and his entire family has gathered at the beach to celebrate the final precious moments of his life. it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
As it happens I’ve brought my guitar to the beach and begin strumming a melody I’ve been working on for the past few days that is much more intricate than the rhythmic patterns I usually model my songs around. I wasn’t really sure if I should keep playing but I felt really compelled to keep going. When I finished I was completely shocked to hear applause ring out on the beach and this inspired me to keep playing. I pushed it more and more out of the shy place I started from and eventually moved into the fullness of my passion and voice that I would use normally. I noticed during one song the man in the wheel chair started stirring and at one point with the assistance of a couple family members he actually stood up. It was heart wrenching and healing and so serendipitously kind and amazing that I could find myself playing guitar to this family on this beach on this island on this earth at this time in perceived existence and quantified human life. A number of the people in his family were wiping tears from their eyes as I finished a rendition of ”3 little birds” and I myself felt the same. I had just decided to put my guitar away when something amazing happened. A little girl collapsed in the parking lot, crawled into the beach area, stood up, and collapsed again. To those not familiar with Island stigmas and norms, there can be, at times (like with whites and nonwhites in the midwest) subtle and oftentimes very present tension between locals of hawaiian and polynesian descent towards those from the mainland and abroad. Though I have definitely felt the frustrations of racism and have also made some rather ignorant comments on race myself, outside of some extreme situations (another blog, another time) I’ve usually always fallen in the middle of these things. I am by most definitions a not easily definable goofball. I’ve been called nigger and white boy and shit face and kook and asian and hawaiian and mexican and rasta and my half-fro, half-mane has been dubbed a mullet and earned me some rather “endearing” names like rats nest and wild weave, to much move enjoyable tags such as Jellyfish and my personal favorite: banyan.
Anyway the point here is that there’s a social context of subtle racism here that makes this scenario all the more divine and lovely because when that little white girl hit the sand due to heat exhaustion on that sweltering hot hawaiian day it was not one of the many white tourists who rushed to her aide, nor was it myself. It was the brother of the man who was dying and he did something I’ll never forget.
he quietly and swiftly kissed the forehead of his dying brother, took the umbrella from over his wheelchair, grabbed a bottle of water from his cooler and walked over to that little white girl and cradled her in his big brown arms and offered her the shade and the water.
these are truly the arms of angels. these are truly the descendants of noble kings and queens.