I decided to just bite the bullet and jump in. Worked on language study for a little more than an hour. Then dove into mele #2 in the cycle that I'm working on. Lots of translation. Totally love how the brain is able to switch gears like that! I know... I know... Itʻs going to take a lot more than a few hours a day to really grow within the language... But Iʻve got to start somewhere, right? And a few hours a day is a lot more than Iʻd been studying every day prior to this. Slow. Baby steps.
Growing up in a home where only one language was spoken, I was jealous of my friends who lived in a bilingual home. And I was constantly amazed to witness the "change" in their brains as they went from one language to another. I never thought I'd be able to do that. Not that I'm suddenly fluent in Hawaiian, but it's coming along. Slowly. Steadily. And after I finish my "official study time" for the day, my brain stumbles between English and Hawaiian. It's awesome! And I'm sure it's funny for the folks that call me on the phone during that time... I can hardly form a sentence!
More of the same for tomorrow. I've laid out a game plan as I countdown the days to Molokai. I want to be able to sing these songs with Pops and get his manaʻo. I want to be able to speak as much Hawaiian with him as I can. Where else am I going to find a chance to use it like that? And with a native speaker! Thatʻs one of the best parts about being down in Hālawa... being able to think in Hawaiian instead of thinking in English and then trying to translate it. When youʻre immersed like that, you donʻt have to keep changing gears. Itʻs easier just to lock it in!
Feeling blessed with these opportunities. (And mentally exhausted!)
Ahhh.... Ok. So I sat down this afternoon and started to work on a mele from Molokai. A beautiful song that doesn't get sung very often anymore. And you know, that makes me really sad because this is such a fantastic combination of haunting melody and incredible lyrics. I was in heaven. Very few composers write like this anymore. In ANY tradition!
And I love the fact that as I sing it--over and over and over--the lyrics really start to come to life. As a non-native of the islands and a language student, sometimes the poetry is lost on my western ears and mind. But every time I slow down and take a breath and allow the song to "breathe," it's like light shines in the room. The lyrics suddenly become clear. The melody makes perfect sense. The planets align. It's all good.
I love that this is my current job. I hope that it can be forever. I can't think of a better way to spend one's time and energy. This job, while exhausting for a moment, actually gives so much more than it takes. How can you argue with that?
I was talking with Pops last night on the phone. It had been 2 weeks since we'd last spoken. Too long. I try to talk with him once a week--usually on Sunday nights. I know he comes out of the valley to go to church on Sundays. That means he has cell phone reception again!
He called me--an unusual thing. Usually I call him. I had mentioned this to a friend of mine who grew up in the islands. I told her, "Well, if he really wants to talk with me, he can call, too! Why do I always have to be the one to make the move?" She explained that in Hawai'i, it wouldn't be unusual for a kupuna to wait for my call. I needed to show the respect and make the first move. In the years that I've known Pops, I can count on one hand the number of times that he's called me. And every time is special.
We were catching up on all of the latest news. Everything that's been happening in our worlds. Family news. Local news. I told him that I really wanted to come and visit--the same thing I tell him every time we talk. He usually answers, "Well, son, I know that we'll be together again someday." I mentioned that I wanted to come in August. He sounded excited. I threw out a few dates. He grew more excited. I told him I would go on the computer and try to book a flight. His response? "Don't try. Just do!"
And that is a valuable lesson to be applied to all areas of my life. Don't try. Just do!
(And I went to my computer and made it happen. Mahalo, Pops! I'll be seeing you SOON!!)
I'm heading back to Molokai to study/work/hang with the ʻohana next month! Booking a trip back to the ʻāina is ALWAYS one of the best feelings. Like a birthday and Christmas and New Yearʻs Eve and the Fourth of July all rolled into one.
That means that Iʻve got to really put my nose to the grindstone and start making some headway with these mele. Nothing like committing to a trip to make you accountable, right?
I'm embarking a new project to learn some mele--specifically mele from Molokai. This is gonna be quite a journey. As I learn more about the island, the language in the mele comes to life. These songs that haven't been sung much over the last 50 years BOUNCE back into being. And I am blessed with the opportunity to learn them. How cool...