The Journey to Find – Myself
I am one of those people who envy others who can recall their childhood. You see, I have few, if any memories of my childhood until the sixth grade. Although I remember some of my elementary teachers’ names and the layout of my elementary school, I do not remember classes or students or any work that we did. I remember my parents and my siblings within the context of our home, and the kids on our street with whom we played. Very few specific moments, events, adventures; a day at the beach with the family, our old cars, playing hide-n-seek with the neighbor kids.
In 6th grade my teachers convinced my parents to allow me to apply to a private school where I would find more challenges in my education. I was accepted to the school and remember feeling proud and happy at my new school. Still, I did not feel like I fit in well with the other kids. One would say that I flourished at this school, and I did. I was an academic success, but a social nothing. During high school I began stretching myself to do things that were not expected of a poor kid from Kalihi, a not so affluent but highly diverse neighborhood on Oahu. Since then, I have had many adventures, some of them handed to me, some of them by default due to my inaction, and others that I intentionally pursued.
Recently I was interviewed for a project conducted by Small Town Big Art here in Wailuku, Maui. Although I was not sure what I could contribute to the project that was aimed at collecting “sense of place” stories, by the time I left the nearly one-hour interview, lots of thoughts were floating in my mind. This morning, as I lay in bed during that period of drifting thoughts, I realized that my interview responses were really describing my life’s journey to find myself, to be in a place where I was comfortable in the skin I was born in and proud of the genes I had inherited. Someone once observed that I managed to change something in my life roughly every five years. As I thought about my interview and the stories I told there, I realized that I have spent my life trying on different “skins” and being different aspects of myself, all in search of an environment that would not only allow me to be who I truly am, but one that would also nurture me as I live and continue to grow. Some might say I was searching for an environment that would allow me to “live up to my potential”.
In the end, I must acknowledge that the many twists and turns in my life were merely touchstones along my journey. Positive, uplifting, and rewarding as they have been, none were the destination – until I moved to Maui. Until I discovered my Hawaiian ancestral roots, both the people and the land. Since I arrived on Maui roughly 30 years ago, I have been accumulating information that, unrecognized by me, was slowly filling in the blank spaces of my life, forming the connections I needed to truly understand this journey of discovery. I am at peace with the life that I have created for myself here on Maui, with my familial relationships, my formed relationships, my career, and my future. This book is the story of my journey.