On the cusp of a departure that will take us deeper into the unknown, the captains allow us all to come to Direction Island one last time. While I hang back in a hammock, thinking about what to write, it dawns on me that what I should be writing about is unfolding right in front of me. I’m watching our crew scour the beach, some looking for shells across the sun bleached sand while others keep an eye out for that perfect piece of beach glass smoothed by time and tides. A few quietly search for a bit of solitude before getting on a vessel where solitude becomes more rare than cold drinks and hot showers.
Maybe the broken shell or worn bottle turned into an artsy object when we come home will be the key to conveying the message or mana’o we wish to pass along and inspire those who have not been here to understand the beauty of this place in which simple words are insufficient.
Last night, we came to plant coconut trees under the moon light to leave our mark here. Today, we came to plant more – the mana from our home. The well-placed pōhaku, adorned with ‘olena and ‘awa, being bathed in water from the birthplace of Hōkūleʻa and from the highest lake in our pae ʻāina thousands of miles away. Surely the ring of niu planted by this crew that will grow around this pōhaku has meaning.
Not only will it signify this voyage, but also the kuleana to come back some day that creates a very deep connection to this place and to the canoe. We strengthened this bond with these words: Iwi o kuʻu iwi / Koko o kuʻu koko / Pili ka moʻo / A mau loa. The mana in these words comes from the families where Hōkūleʻa was born and now cast about as these lines were chanted. It was time to go.
Certainly as all of us seek to find meaning and connection whether it be to place, people, objects, or movements. We can all agree this canoe and this voyage has meaning. It resonated with the kids we visited yesterday. It resonates with many of you who have never even seen the canoe in real life. But something about the canoe’s story captured you longer than a news cycle to cause you check back in on us from time to time.
But for us today – departure day – the meaning does not come from any of these amenities; It comes from the part of the journey that is just revealing itself. Past this horizon, we look to the next, farther than Kanaloa might have expected we would go. The kai hohonu awaits us, and only there might we find the meaning some of us seek.
Me ka ha’aha’a,