When the Turtle Comes Up to Breathe, It's Daylight

Puha ka honu, ua awakea. When the turtle comes up to breathe, it is daylight. Said when a person yawns.  Sleeping time is over; work begins.

'Olelo No'eau - Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings, #2717      Collected, translated and annotated by Mary Kawena Pukui 

August feels like a big yawn!   A good time to rest and play. It's been perfect playing weather here in Chicagolands - not too hot - with humidity that feels good on my skin. Flowers are blooming everywhere - dahlias, black eyed Susans, sunflowers.  And big work is afoot for me.

My husband and I have transitioned from our large old Victorian home with its three floors, large kitchen, and seven bedrooms (counting the attic). We've moved to a two bedroom apartment above our Zen Life & Meditation Center.  We haven't sold the Victorian yet - still prepping and getting it ready for sale - hopefully on the market by mid-August.

Overall it feels very good to divest and simplify. Releasing the house also includes releasing the beautiful pa hula (hula mound) in the backyard.  Halau i Ka Pono students, friends, and I have enjoyed feeling the soft grass underneath our bare feet as we danced hula on it for performances or just for the joy of dancing. This unique structure is also gorgeous in different seasons - white with snow, golden with maple leaves, and green with life-giving rain falling on it.

It's not so easy to let go but I know that it's time to imua (move forward).  I feel that I am like an opihi (limpet) loosening its grip on a rock as the knife of reality pries it off.  I spent part of yesterday afternoon sitting next to the pa hula reading under the shade of a leafy maple tree. The air was still and cool in the shade.  A slight breeze came up every now and then. The bamboo fencing, enclosing our yard, looked strong and quiet, turned white with weathering.  The fence secured and created a safe, serene space.

I took a break from studying and walked slowly around the mound.  The grass was slightly damp from a big rain on the previous day.  It felt peaceful, and I so appreciated being there.  Then slowly I noticed that I wasn't clinging to it.  I was just there, taking it all in.

Change is a constant in all life. It's good to enjoy things while we have them and let them go when it's time to.  For example, our bodies age - our hair whitens and eventually strength leaves our arms and legs.  Youth vanishes whether we like it or not.  Our work or practice is about being ok with these changes.

That doesn't mean that we don't care when our bodies age.  We do care, and we do what we must to take care of ourselves.  Although we can't stop the aging process, we can age mindfully and gracefully.  We all will die some day.  Instead of dreading it, can we make peace with mortality and let it enliven the time we have left here?  I've been underwater a lot.  It's time to come to the surface and take a breath.  I think that's the realization that leaving the house is leading me toward.

Malama pono (Take care of body, mind and heart),

June Kaililani Tanoue Kumu Hula

P.S.  Sending prayers for everyone's safety and well-being in Hawaii during this hurricane season!!!