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"Moving in the Dark"
I woke up in a dark room. I knew I was inside a room because I could hear doors opening and closing. I knew that this was not representative of my entire life because I had memories of being outside of this room, of living my life before this room. Why was I in this room? And how did I get here? I did not know. I just had a sense of certainty that I could trust my memories. And early on, I decided to hold on to these recollections.
This room had no light. I remained inside this room for what felt to be a very long time. Without gadgets or tools to tell me what day it was, or how much time had passed, I was clueless as to how long the sentence had been and would continue to be.
I did know one thing: I wanted out of this dark room!
With my powers of deduction, I made observations:
1. This room was large! No matter how far I traveled by foot I couldn’t reach a wall, and yet I heard doors open and close. Doors that must have been connected to walls. But where were these walls?
2. I could hear people walking by. I could feel others as I bumped into them, and as they bumped into me. Eventually, voices began to sound familiar. So, I asked my neighbors, Do you know where we are? How do we get out? How long have you, yourselves, been here? And they replied, “I don’t know”, to all of my questions. They were as lost as me.
3. In this room, our basic needs for food and water were suspended. Or at least, mines were. I didn’t feel the deprivation of physical nourishment. I didn’t feel a satisfaction either. But I didn’t feel the physical hunger or thirst. This was a relief considering I had a bigger need on my hands: to go beyond.
4. After wandering for a long time, I decided to rest. Just be still. Instead of listening to the captives, I would try my best to pay attention to the outgoers. We couldn’t all be prisoners. There are people leaving through doors. It must have been hope that interpreted the outgoers to hold success stories.
I got back up, and took a couple of steps forward, back, left to right all the while throwing my arms up above me. I was trying to grab a possible instrument that outgoers were using to leave this room. Perhaps, there was a bar or rail that they clung to and followed. But there was nothing. So, I thought creatively, and hunched down to the ground. Maybe there was a clue on the floor? I found a bundle of braided thread. It was a rope! But was this the instrument outgoers were using? And instead would this rope lead me to my own demise? There was only one way to find out.
This was the plan: I would follow this rope trusting it would lead me to freedom. To a way out. To out of here.
It’s so funny. When I was wandering aimlessly, even bumping into others, there was not much said to me. In fact, I would have to initiate conversations just to be engaged. Not many of the bystanders were interested in their own circumstances let alone mine —- while I was wandering. After I grabbed the rope, I became a magnet. Many voices in the dark asked me what I was trying to do. I knew they were speaking to me because they called me by name. Meanwhile, I was surprised that my actions were noticeable. Keep in mind, this was a dark room. How can anyone determine what I was doing when nothing was apparent? I didn’t announce that I was using a rope, but I wasn’t stingy with the information either. When others inquired, I told them that I was using a rope to leave this room. Pretty simple. I imagine that in a well lit room, my plan was very rational. But not to my peers in the dark room. Instead, I was told how silly it was for me to believe that the rope led anywhere. I was told to believe in the randomness of darkness. Some of my peers tried to convince me that life was better inside this dark room. I was told that I didn’t have what it takes because I failed to find a way out sooner. My efforts were dismissed, and my failures highlighted.
And yet, now was the time to hold on to that rope. I had tried every other conceivable way to accomplish my goal. And without the help of others, I followed my instinct. I held onto the rope, pulled myself along the line, and followed it. I knew this route was a gamble. There was a possibility that the rope was knotted, and I’d walk into a circle. There was also a possibility that the rope ended within the room, and thus leading me nowhere. But there was also a possibility that this was the tool that outgoers were using. There was that possibility I would make it out using this instrument!
The biggest tests of faith were after I traveled miles forward, following the rope. I attracted larger crowds whispering for me to let go, and to turn back. My guess is that some of these lifers did not want other bystanders to know there was a rope in this room. I had to resist internalizing the discouragement. I had to resist giving more weight to their dismal speculation than to my own speculation of success. If both were speculations, why did their opinions deserve more clout?
By the end of my travel, following the rope, I kept my eyes closed. It was useless trying to use them in the darkness. And Lord knows how much damage I’d probably already done trying to use my sight in this light-less room.
Guided by the rope, my instinct told me I was moving forward. The rope eventually led me to a wall. I know this because I bumped into it. Reaching in front of me, the rope was strung into the wall. I felt the wall, and found a knob, and doorway. This was a door! A closed door. I turned the knob, and the door opened into another room absent of light.
I figured, I traveled this far. I might as well see what’s in the next room. I closed the door behind me in case there was trouble in this next room.
I moved my hands along the wall of the new room. I found a switch, and turned on the light.
The door and rope disappeared.
~ Original story by Ruby :)
Contrary to popular belief, I'm not all positive. I'm not all feel good, and I'm not one dimensional. I'm potent because I allow space for my strengths and weaknesses. I do not live in other people's limited perspectives.
I am a person of excellence, and I try my very best consistently. But that doesn't make me perfect, and it doesn't make me immune from human frailty. So I will not allow you to limit my right to be imperfect, and my right to know who I am - even when you don't.
In the past, well meaning friends have tried to limit me and tell me who they think I am. Primarily painting me to be Miss Perfect because I'm ambitious, persistent, and accomplished. And when I made mistakes or stepped outside of their comfortable limited views of me, they condemn my behavior either with thinly vieled caustic humor or outright accusation. What made it difficult in identifying their projections was that their intention was well meaning.
But I had to balance out their supposed good intention "to help" with how I FELT, and I never feel good when others attempt to limit my humanity.
When I feel sad, angry, persecuted, victimized, betrayed, [fill in any negative emotion], then I don't want to have my humanity limited and expected to quickly "get over it" or expected not to react at all. You don't have to listen to me. I can certainly find another friend to lend an ear. But you will also not control me.
How did I solve this dilemna?
1. I listened to how I felt and how I reacted, not just the well meaning intention of the speaker. But also how I feel or receive the message is just as important as the message. Am I perfect? No, so I do listen to valid suggestions. But often the intention was mixed with their control issues so I took into consideration if this "friend" was attempting to control the situation or me. As opposed to genuinely sharing healing advice about forgiveness, peace of mind, and maturity. I'm really great at listening and respecting friends so I expect the same benefits in return.
2. I limited my interaction, and in some cases discontinued the friendships, with these controlling people. Because ultimately a controlling person will soak up all the compassion from you, and then condemn you when you attempt to extract some of that in return.
Ultimately, I'd rather preserve my self-respect which means accepting my good with my bad. I am dimensional, and my real friends get that.
Surprisingly - I really enjoyed the film! Disney's Moana turned out to be a great cartoon and story. And I say that as someone with Polynesian and Melanesian heritage.
Prior to watching, I was bracing myself because I knew that this was a pacific story told by a non-pacific organization. Usually when an outsider tells our story, I cringe because the artwork/narrative is dishonest and lacks integrity.
But I saw so many criticisms that I became curious. Ironic - Lol! Some complained that the story was too "mixed" accusing the writers of inappropriately mixing multiple polynesian and melanesian languages, clothing, mythology. Some complained that there was not enough research done, and not enough insight sought after from the elders back home. Others complained simply because outsiders told our islander story which was not for outsiders to tell.
So this is my take:
I enjoyed the "mixed"ness of the script especially because the setting took place in ancient Oceania which means that our pacific cultures were likely unified in ancient times before we spread out to populate the rest of the pacific. It makes sense that we would recognize various island cultures in this crafted tale of ancient times.
I also read that Disney's team did spend some time in the pacific. And when I saw the film for myself, I saw that they did do their research as far as capturing the various garments, language, and physical features of the characters. Did they do enough research to create a documentary? Probably not. But did they do enough research to craft an Oceania cartoon, something intended to entertain families and children? I feel they did.
As far as their outsiderness disqualifying their position to tell our story? Gosh I'm torn on the answer. On one hand, I don't like outsiders telling an insider's story - especially what feels like "my" story as a pasifika woman. Since I am indigenous to the Samoan, Tongan, Fijian islands, I have a painful relationship with Colonization and Exploitation of the Pacific. When a non-pacific person/group tells my pacific story and makes a profit, then it does trigger that stinging sensation of colonization in the pacific because it feels like an outsider is reaching into my territory and extracting something valuable without permission or compensation.
On the other hand, I am first generation American living in the diaspora and I constantly yearn for islander representation in the media and in pop culture because we lack islander representation. Since I was not raised in the islands, and was not raised in a society where islanders are the dominant majority, I fight the issue of Invisibility. The invisibility of my islander identity and culture. So when I do see parts of our islander culture represented, even if not done perfectly, then I feel excited. I can't help it. I'm excited for visibilty of our islander culture even if that means an outsider will share our story because it starts the conversation, the conversation about the pacific.
Visibility creates a sense of belonging. And a sense of belonging inspires participation. As an immigrant, visibility is vital for me while I continue to live and create something for myself in this new land.
That's what Disney's Moana means to me. It's a reminder of our talent to pioneer new things. After all, weren't our islander ancestors navigators? And in that sense, I have all the pioneering tools and dna to succeed here.
Happy Holidays All, I posed my unique cartoon character in a holiday setting. That's right! I invented him.
The little round guy is Maka from my original children's story, "Maka and the Impossible," which is a parable of ambition. My little rock leaves his village and goes on an impossible journey. Reflecting his creator (me), he has an ISLANDER FLAVOR to his style.
To read about his adventures, please check out my book :)
#polynesianstory #polynesianchildrenstory #polynesianwriter
Fundraiser: Please donate online to support a dynamic and loving Polynesian church - Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga of San Francisco. Their program has contributed to the community for 31 years through youth mentorship, community outreach, and even feeding the homeless. Giving money to this church is an investment because they are a living, breathing community resource. Any donation amount will be appreciated.
Just an idea: if 1,000 people - islanders and allies - each contributed $30, then the church would meet its goal.
#San Francisco #Community Support #Polynesians #Tongans #Polynesian Church #People Power
I grew up in San Francisco :) Surrounded by friends of multiple cultures, exotic food, and eclectic entertainment. San Francisco will also have a special place in my heart for empowering me to think openly and bravely.
In addition, I grew up knowing that my people are Polynesian because my father is Samoan and my mom is Tongan. As a result, I feel tethered to the South Pacific in a spiritual sense which means that I'm never lost because my identity works as a compass. Because I know who I am, and where I come from, I have the confidence to travel very far.
To no surprise, when I began painting - and I'm self-taught - a Polynesian flavor popped up despite my American upbringing.
For instance, in my "Water Window" painting, I tried to snapshot a village in the distance from a surfer's point of view. Check it out:
In another painting, I tackled the subject of Akaka Waterfalls which I enjoyed visiting when I lived on the Big Island. After growing up in San Francisco, I knew that I had to live in the Pacific in order to blossom. The journey was so worth it! Hawai'i challenged me in ways I didn't expect and didn't know I was capable of meeting head on. Here is the "Waterfall" painting:
Last but not least, below is my painting that marries my identity as a Polynesian and as an American. I call it, "San Francisco Jungle" because the title and subject captures my eclectic upbringing. Although it's a concrete jungle, the locals - like my family - keep the city exotic and fresh.
"Maka and the Impossible" is a Polynesian children's story which I wrote based on my own experience as a Polynesian American.
The message is universal in that it's a parable of Ambition. Maka is a little rock, and he decides to travel up a hill. The problem is that rocks are not mobile - no legs nor arms.
Starting with that problem, I chronicle his impossible journey up a hill.
Similarly, I know what it's like to decide to travel up the career ladder in California. After spending many years working and going to school, I've made progress in a field that I don't see too many of my peers: Law. That's right, I'm in law school :-) I know for sure that I'm standing on the shoulders of giants - my family - who empowered me to move forward. So I am grateful.
Like Maka, my journey towards becoming an attorney was not easy. Many would say that my dream was Impossible because I did not have the financial resources to pay for law school nor the mentors from whom to model myself.
Yet, all it took was Initiative. By continuing to believe in myself and putting in the work towards higher education, I gravitated towards the right people who answered my questions. Although I didn't have Samoan or Tongan attorneys from whom to follow, I reached out of our community and asked Latino attorney mentors for assistance - who were happy to answer my questions, and direct me towards scholarships.
My children's story character - Maka - has traveled much further than I. But I look forward to catching up with his greatness in my near future.
To read my Polynesian children's story, "Maka and the Impossible", you can purchase a hard copy on Amazon.com.
For the ebook version, go to Lulu.com.
Wish me luck! The journey continues.
I am a Polynesian woman, and that message is communicated in the natural dark curls of my hair, the broadness in my features, my community interests, and subjects of my art.
A recurring image in my first children's story and in my paintings is the Bird of Paradise. While I'm unsure whether this flower has its origin in the South Pacific, I do know that I saw these flowers all over the place when I lived in Hawai'i. The flowers seemed just as much of an inhabitant as the locals.
Now that I live in San Diego, I noticed bird of paradise flowers being a favorite in residential front yards.
These flowers make my journey in life all the more enchanted.
Check out my art below. See what I mean?
"Being an Aquarius, I always feel 10 years ahead of my time, and 10 years behind."
~ Ruby 's Daydreams
#AquariusQuotes #Visionary #RebelWithACause
"The Offputting Duckling," is an illustrated story about a NONCONFORMIST duckling. It's available in ebook form. Buy your copy today!
Polynesian Writer and Artist