Waiting on the Hurricane

The air is still; alternately, the winds gust a bit. Then it pours or does not. Most of the island, if the papers can be believed, is in drought. This is unbelievable to those of us living in North Kohala. We’ve had little but rain most of the year, albeit interspersed with brilliantly clear skies and sunshine. The gardens thrive, and what cannot abide too much water dies. Though that is very little, all in all. I can live with it, not that I have a choice in the matter.

Hawaii is a group of islands considered the most remote inhabited masses of land on the planet. For those of us who love this magical place, that does not faze us in the least. Yet we live in rapidly changing environmental times. Wildfires in the Pacific Northwest can now almost be counted on this time of year. Floods on the east coast continue, as do wild temperature swings. And that’s just the United States. Still, hurricanes are now as they have always been – unpredictable. A few days ago, Hurricane Lane seemed only remotely close to Hawaii Island. Today is a different story. Category 4 (as I wrote this, now a Five) coming our way. And here come torrential rains, though the winds have not picked up too much. And just as suddenly, it’s gone.

We don’t panic. We don’t, heaven help us, even prepare. We’ve lived 15 years of our lives on these islands, witnessed earthquakes (a magnitude Six found its epicenter in our town in ’06 – the furthest from the volcano, or from anyone’s expectations. Yet there you have it.) Leveled a massively tall concrete smokestack from sugar mill days. Slid houses right off their concrete foundations. We’ve watched from Molokai’s west shore as hurricane Iniki hurled destruction at our sister island Kauai. Several hurricanes have come close, but none has made landfall except peripherally with flooding, last time in Kapoho, much of which was only recently inundated with lava.

And so, at least for now, what else to do but wait?

“Our neighborhood.” All photos ©Bela Johnson

Birthquakes

If I were to sweep, it would never end;
this precious earth has only begun
to burn and swirl and blow away
the flimsy trappings, human footprints
laid down along shorelines expanding
now beneath helicopter eyes, unable
to peer further under Pele’s fiery skirts;

What we consider tragedy is to her
but birthquakes of yet another chapter
in an endless cycle of fits and starts
as we stand nervously in parenthetical
lines, waiting our turn to strike through
her heart once again, creative urges blooming
into discrete shapes and forms, disregarding
the transient nature of life amidst miracles
of existence, five senses, legs on starfish,
hieros gamos, sacred marriage, heaven
and earth united in the upright carriage
of the sentient human form;

Do we not recall sharp edges honed
over time perpetual as sea nudges shore,
even as memory casts this inviolable link
into archaic history at our own peril;
meanwhile rubbish heaps up and up,
spreading plague-like over land and sea,
all hail, homo erectus, purveyor of hubris,
she will bring you, wracked and shaking,
to your bent and humbled knees.

Pele’s lava
Kohala sunset
Hawaiian red chili peppers
tiny dancer
fragrant Plumeria
curious neighbor
Kohala shoreline

~ all photos ©Bela Johnson

Independence Day Reflections, 2017

The best intentioned among us can become discouraged at the apparent hijacking of governments by corporations and special interests of the financially privileged. Yet if vigilant, one can witness changes being made at grass roots levels, mostly because people are beginning to collectively awaken to the harsh realities of global warming and endless warring, and it’s about time. Uniting as One People is the promise of this Aquarian Age, and we can go willingly or be dragged, kicking and screaming. I suspect we are witnessing a bit of both, and this will only intensify with this thousand-year spin cycle.

I am looking forward to more independent actions on the part of citizens who value peace and sustainability over war and destruction on this precious planet. While I don’t harbor any illusions that we can reverse much of the damage done, I rejoice in any efforts to unite in a non-aggressive way to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. My hope is that it helps more people recognize unity across borders; that we begin to collectively value all life as sacred and that we as human beings continue to dissolve the Great Walls that separate us, one from another.

This is the my intention as the US rings in yet another Independence Day tomorrow. In peace and with Aloha, Bela

 

 

 


 

Canaries in the Mine

Searching the thesaurus to avoid duplication of the term sensitive only confirms cultural bias: touchy, hypersensitive, easy offended, easily upset, easily hurt (easy, easily, easily – thesaurus in need of a thesaurus), thin-skinned, defensive, paranoid, neurotic, uptight; difficult, delicate, tricky, awkward, problematic, emotive.

Perhaps if the world were wise, it would pay attention to sensitive human beings. It’s like a mental asylum out there. People jockeying to oppress newly liberated minorities. Folks clamoring to amass the most materiality before departing the planet, as if the ubiquitous they might miss their chance. Chemical companies competing to control the world’s food supply, bees dying by the millions, lobbyists greasing pockets of Senators, butting in line ahead of voters. Voices of The People stymied; small victories savored. Save the rivers, save the forests. What are our priorities as a species? What collective illusions are we laboring under?

We canaries detect the undercurrents, fragile plumage singed by flames long before they fan out on the evening news. Our bodies inform us daily of planetary imbalances. Sharing perceptions, only to discover ourselves discredited. Left brain right. Not sure what to do with impressions the right brain gathers, seeking answers. What is duty, purpose, path; floundering in a sea of indecision, knowing there are no shoulds?


canary-in-coal-mine

Groundless

An avalanche or a rockslide cleaves sharply

from its origins; boulders of perception tumbling, tumbling

thundering carelessly over terrain flinching passively;

unexpected projectiles lodging fragments into storied ice.

 

Millennial madness, and it drives and it falls

as it plummets and crumbles into heaps of rubble and debris,

like emotions or grief lodging sideways into DNA.

 

Choreographed over ages too wide and deep to fathom,

mountains draw themselves down toward the sea;

humans carelessly careen into one another,

conductors of orchestrated imaginings

waiting to fasten on,

as the ground slips away, and away.

 

TRINER_1806_Goldauer_Landslide1

When the rains come

and they have,

and they have –

the porous ground pulls in nutrients,

cane toads wake up from a long,

long slumber.

 

It has been dry in Hawai’i nei,

we have all been thirsty

for this liquid manna pouring forth

from the socked-in heavens;

breathe it in,

ears attuned to the dance

as it slides off metal rooftops

and collects in the pockets

between spongy grasses

and decaying fronds.

 

Envisage liver red worms

slithering freely as they convert

crumbling soil, nourish starving saplings

while half-ripened bananas arch

on rugged stalks, filling fruit

as the figs and the foliage

and the birds and the bugs

merge a chorus of thanksgiving

drowned out in this happy deluge.

 

100_1132

The Age of Aquarius?

Age of Aquarius-790-xxx

In 1969, I was a high school freshman. Middle school had bussed me from a known quantity – a neighborhood in which I thrived with friends I’d known since kindergarten – into flights of stairs and home rooms and tennis courts and football fields and oh, so many students! That original grammar school group was split into three and cast to the winds of destiny. And though high school brought me closer to the mountain foothills where I spent my childhood, once again school chums were cleaved into three groups; three different high schools.

Each time I changed academic institutions, the pond got bigger and bigger. A grammar school class of less than one hundred multiplied by ten in middle school; my middle school class exploded into a high school graduating class of twelve hundred. These were frightening changes to a sensitive kid, but I put on a brave face and kept moving forward. What else could I do? Being bookish, I embraced new arenas of learning. Being an observer of people, I was highly entertained.

Those high school days brought self expression to the fore: the drama cliques, the jocks and cheerleaders, the intellectual/nerds, the joiners/social climbers, the band and drill team groupies, the hippies, the Black Panther wannabes and more. Tumultuous times indeed, they were not without colorful expression and the passion befitting adolescents about to launch themselves into a frightening world replete with social and political unrest.

One of my fondest memories of that time emerges from the center of the school’s interior. Being in a year-round climate meant the quad’s lawn was always abuzz with activity. The hippie kids brought along guitars and beaded headbands; armpit hair, sandals, poetry and song. The Fifth Dimension’s Aquarius hit the top of the charts and my very corpuscles thrilled at its message: When the moon is in the seventh house; And Jupiter aligns with Mars; Then peace will guide the planets; And love will steer the stars …

It seemed all things were possible – that no act of civil disobedience would be executed without merit – we were headed into a new world where our generation would finally have the chance to impact the kinds of positive change we doubtlessly came to earth to embody.

Fast-forward forty years, and the giant clock hands ker-chunk into prayer hands position. Moving into the long-awaited New Age, we discover, to our great consternation, that instead of peaceful euphoria, we are faced with unparalleled atrocities (if only due to our burgeoning numbers, here on Planet Earth). Global warming and random acts of senseless violence pierce the airwaves like Morse code gone berserk. How could this possibly be the same Age foretold in those not-so-long-ago lyrics: Harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding; No more falsehoods or derisions, golden living dreams of visions; Mystic crystal revelations, and the mind’s true liberations … Aquarius! A-quar-i-us?

In fact, Aquarius governs electricity, democracy, technology, computers, the Internet, flight, freedom, idealists, religion and innovative systems such as astrology. Aquarius itself is ruled by the planet Uranus; considered by most astrologers to be the planet of surprise and change. As with any condition on planet Earth, one observes a fair dose of polarity. For all the positive changes that have certainly been implemented in my lifetime, certain incomprehensible acts might seem to negate them. But it is not so simple, for the birthing of a child, of a solar system, of new ideas and concepts and awareness all require tremendous contraction and expansion before settling into the rhythm of existence.

Of course I’d like to believe that events in the recent past, no matter how horrific, will yet result in further awakening humanity; that the chaos perpetrated by a confused minority will result in a collective expansion of noble hearts; of kindness and compassion. I’m hoping that the threat of a planet rife with bizarre weather patterns and melting polar ice, not to mention the extinction of far too many species of flora and fauna, will embolden us to insist special interest groups step aside and let creative innovators help rebalance our planet to the extent that it is still possible. I expect that science coupled with humanitarianism holds the key – that golden key that finally ushers in the long-awaited gifts of the Aquarian Age.