Since returning from Kauai, I seem entwined with waterfalls, ribboned with the link of water falling to the sea, and all that that means.
The language of Hawaii reflects the landscape. The wind and sea sound through it.
I’m reading Braiding Sweetgrass. Robin Wall Kimmerer writes of the language of her people, Potawatomi, an Anishinaabe language. One of their words is Puhpowee, which means “the force which causes mushrooms to push up from the earth overnight”.
She writes: “As a biologist I was stunned that such a word existed. In all its technical vocabulary, Western science has no such term, no words to hold this mystery. You’d think that biologists, of all people, would have words for life. But in scientific language our terminology is used to define the boundaries of our knowing. What lies beyond our grasp remains unnamed.”
She continues: “In the three syllables of this new word I could see an entire process of close observation in the morning woods, the formulation of a theory for which English has no equivalent. The makers of this word understood a world of being, full of unseen energies that animate everything. I’ve cherished it for many years, as a talisman, and longed for the people who gave a name to the life force of mushrooms. The language that holds Puhpowee is one that I wanted to speak. So when I learned that the word for rising, for emergence, belonged to the language of my ancestors, it became a signpost for me.”
She goes on to explore how “English doesn’t give us many tools for incorporating respect for animacy.”
She writes of language and pronouns and concludes that what’s most important is living and speaking from the Heart!! Live there!
The first morning we were on Kauai, I rose at 3 to sit in the dark and appreciate the stars and wind through the palm trees. I saw four shooting stars. I was reminded of my visit to Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrine, the Ise Grand Shrine. All is alive and entwined.
On Wednesday, I took a boat ride that left the beach at Hanalei to explore along the sacred Napali coast.
We entered a cave where a waterfall poured down from an opening above.
Perhaps these photos I took give a sense of the land we share. All of this moves in us, mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and caves.
Today I’m wondering if the land we live on reaches up to hold on to us. Perhaps we are connected and entangled like the fungi strands beneath our feet.
Maybe the land enjoys and participates in our footsteps, laughter, joys, fears, and worries.
We’ve gone through all the hoops, and there were many, and it looks like we’ll be traveling tomorrow and yet I feel an attachment to this land, our home for 43 years.
What is this hold? I reflect on separation, on birth, organs, bone, and skin.
I consider the separation of an orange into parts, the sounds and squish, the squirt of juice, and I’m grateful for this gathering of family as I step away knowing wherever I go, there I am, so tender footsteps are the wayto meet and travel each day.
Last night the fog came in. This morning the wind chimes chime.
I read the news. A man kills his two young children because he thinks they are “lizard people”. How can this be?
I watch the fog move in and out, pick plums from the tree.
We create anger by a series of thoughts that result in a particular emotional and physiological state. Anger doesn’t just happen to us. If we’re able to catch an angry thought as it’s budding, we can let it go.
I’ve been in pausing mode, cocooning. I’ve been with transition and how we meet what comes.
A friend has been going through chemo. The doctors thought if the chemo could shrink the tumor, he could have surgery but at this point he is so weakened, that the question seems moot, and so how do we meet this? How do we meet what comes?
This morning my heart is heavy and my eyes are filled with tears. My heart feels like a breast dripping and pumping milk into the mouth of a baby who sucks to live, and the world sucks now on my heart, on all hearts for the milk of compassion. I suck there too. Compassion. May we all feed there!
From Robert Aitken, “The Nature of the Precepts”
The Dharma is the mind, not merely the brain, or the human spirit. . . . It is vast and fathomless, pure and clear, altogether empty, and charged with possibilities. It is the unknown, the unnameable, from which and as which all beings come forth.
I was out early this morning, watering quickly, though mindfully, as we are allowed to water by hand, especially before six. Where it would have been light a month ago, it was dark, and the birds were still asleep. No chattering, just quiet, and stillness today. August is when birds molt, change feathers from summer to winter, so it usually is a quiet time.
Meanwhile I’m cleaning out books. It’s my way to molt. What feathers do I need to nourish in the dark?
In Harold Gatty’s book, Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass, I learn how to tune my senses to my environment. He writes of a famous traveler and explorer, F. Spencer Chapman, who was “kayaking along the east coast of Greenland with an Eskimo hunting party”.
Suddenly the fog came in, and visibility was nil. Though far from home, they were able to keep within sound of the shore. Chapman worried how they would find the narrow entrance to their home fjord but he writes: “The Eskimos seemed quite unperturbed … indeed they beguiled the time by singing verse after verse of their traditional songs and occasionally they threw their harpoons from sheer joie de vivre.”
An hour of paddling later, they turned into the entrance to their home.
How did they do it? Chapman wrote:
“All along this coast, there were snow buntings nesting, and each male bird … used to proclaim the ownership of his territory by singing his sweet little song from a conspicuous boulder. Now each cock snow bunting had a slightly different song, and the Eskimos had learned to recognize each individual songster so that as soon as they picked out the notes of the bird who was nesting on the headland of their home fjord, they knew it was time to turn inshore.”
We’re back to masks indoors. I actually like wearing a mask, feel safer. I have every kind, super protection and lovely cloth that probably do little for safety but were fun. Now, I’m going for the protective ones. Again, as I read Heather Cox Richardson with real concerns that a few want to turn our country into a dictatorship, I come back to the essential nature and importance of these words by Cheri Huber.
We know in our more lucid moments that the answer to life cannot be self-hatred. If you did nothing all day long other than practice being as kind as possible to everything and everyone you encounter—starting with you, of course—you would live a truly extraordinary life.