A Travellerspoint blog

The Big Island Part 2.2

The Born Supremacy (Originally Part 7)

Enough procrastinating! It was time to get our identities back! We secretly made pancakes by just adding water (no eggs here), and then we hopped the bus to the Prince Kuhio Plaza. The SSN office was actually a store in the mall (weird), and we had to take a number and wait in those chairs that make you unsure how long the line in front of you actually is. Then we handed them our birth certificates and they handed us sheets of paper saying our names and our SSN's. We wouldn't have had to do this for me had my mom sent my SSN card, but she didn't think I needed it (when do you not need 2 forms of ID)? But we had to go here for Joe anyways (have I mentioned that a few weeks ago he had his wallet stolen with his SSN card in it? Yeah, well if I haven't, now I am. And if I have, it deserves to be repeated to show how often I've reminded him too... as if he could forget, but I'm like that sometimes). Then we hopped the bus over to the Governor's Lesion's office, and we got our second souvenirs from the Big Island (our picture ID's now say Hawaii on them, and no, they aren't drivers licenses... so we aren't we aren't able drive now probably until we take the test again wherever we end up). We were going to head back to the mall to get Joe a new SSN card (they wouldn't give him one without a photo ID... really people? What do you think we are? Circus Lions? How many hoops can you possibly make us jump through?) And now that we had photo ID's and our birth certificates, we asked Kathy if all we needed to do is take the paperwork for lost passports back to Larry at the Hilo post office with our 2 forms of ID to start the process of getting our passports back, and she said no. No, no no. She said that we would have to go to the Federal Building in Honolulu to get the passports.

Damn it!

But what could we do about it? That was it. All we had left to do was get Joe a new SSN card, and we were tired. We would leave that to another day. For now it was time to get dinner, so we took the bus back to the main station at the end of the rout, and then walked over to where Stephanie said we could find Tiffany's Tai Fusion. On the way we passed by this huge temple that said "Taishoj Soto Zen." Joe wanted to go in and see what it was, and I was thinking about it, but there was this huge fence with an electric gate opener. The gate was open, but I just didn't think we should go without knowing what it was. Then this asshole with a baby pig on a leash sealed the deal. "Joe, lets get out of here!" He was laughing, he thought the man was playing with his pet pig. But I saw the way the animal struggled against the leash, and ran towards the man when it got the chance. Then the man would lift the leash in the air, swinging the pig away from him and harshly knocking it back to the ground. The man was a local Hawaiian, and he was with another local, and they were laughing and having a blast. "Come on Joe!" I screamed when I saw that one of its front legs were broken as it dragged the leg under its belly while rushing the men. Joe asked me what was wrong with me, and I told him under my breath. He took a second look, contemplated it, and began to follow me as he continued analyzing the men and their pig. I think he was about to debate with me about the situation when a local white guy with long curly blond hair and a dark dan pointedly came out of his surf shop and began calling out to the guys. "Hey man, cut that out!" His voice was much sterner than I thought it was going to be. The Hawaiian guy started to explain that he wasn't doing anything, but the guy with the surf shop cut him off. "No, I know exactly what you are doing, and I'm telling you right now, to cut it out. Thats not cool, and I don't want to see andy of that outside my store." The Hawaiian guy was big and tough when it came to dealing with his baby pig, but he wasn't going to stand up to this guy, and he sheepishly nodded and started somberly heading down the street, holding the pig upright a bit with the leash b/c it couldn't walk right carrying its own weight, but he also kept his arm fully extended away from his body so that the pig couldn't thrash at his ankles.

Sitting down at the restaurant, I was really kind of distraught. Luckily the menu was geared towards vegetarians, perhaps thats why when we first came in we spotted one of the Hare Krisna families from our temple gatherings. The place was really nice with huge photographs of Hawaii all over the walls. We looked though the menu, but then we saw a couple next to us with the Tai Pizza, and we agreed with Stephanie... looked really good. It was basically 2 really huge pita breads with cheese oozing out from the between them and you could get several types of curries as "pizza toppings" inside with the cheese. It took a long time for the food to come, but that gave Joe and I time to have a good long conversation about something happy to get our minds ready for eating again. We were both starved by the time the pizza arrived, and we were both full by the time she took our plate. We shared the dish, and it was a good deal for any US restaurant, especially Hawaii.

Then we started walking home, and people were now heading into the temple. "Come on, can we check it out?" Joe really wanted to see what was up, so we went. The doors pushed sideways (that took a min. to figure out), and inside you could see pews and an alter like in Christian churches, but behind the alter was an extravagant chandelier of blankets and candles above a table with incense candles, and a huge drum next to that all on top of extravagant rugs and pillows. But behind all of this was a staircase that led to a large golden statue of Buddha. People were meeting on the right side of the room in chairs around a fold out table... we were interrupting a meeting. "Come in! Come in!" one of them called to us. Oh god. We came in. Most of them looked at us for a while, then went back to organizing papers. They all appeared to be speaking in Japanese, but they were all in normal garb except for the one man who ran over to us in a powder blue robe and pants. "Hajimemashite... Please... come in." I understood him through his heavy Japanese accent, shook his hand, and followed him to the front of the pews. "Wait here." We waited, not sure why, and looked at all the picture frames of what we assumed were past abbots of the temple that lined the walls going back behind the alter. When the man returned he was followed by a bald white guy in black robes. "Hello," he said as he shook our hands. He was American. He asked us if we were interested in the Soto Zen religion, and we came right out with the fact that we had no idea what it was. He graciously attempted to explain his religion as he gave us a tour of the temple room. Basically it was a sect of Buddhism that was formed in Japan that revolves around these principles:

1, The practise of meditation.
2, Keeping the moral precepts of Buddhism, both in service to others and in keeping faith with oneself.
3, The teaching that all beings have the Buddha Nature. All are fundamentally pure; but out of ignorance we create suffering, thereby obscuring our real nature. (This can be uncovered through principle 1.)
4, Awakening the heart of compassion and expressing it through selfless activity.

We liked him and what he had to say. He went to Japan to continue his study of Zen and was ordained there, so he told me that if we planned to travel to Japan he might be able to answer some questions for me, but they were having an officers meeting at the moment, and he would like to talk to us again possibly after their meditation they hold at 6am once a month (and it just happens to be tomorrow), or after Sunday "church." We told him that we would love to come to meditation, and we would see him again in the morning.

The next morning we got lost. Trying to get to the temple through short cuts always ends up taking longer (so why do we still try to do it?) When we eventually made it to the temple, everyone was already on the left side of the pews sitting on their knees on top of pillows in an oval facing outward. There was a pile of shoes on the ground, and my sandals had velcro straps. "chch-chch-chch-chch-chchchchc" damn it, one strap off. "CHCHCHCH" I thought it would be better to rip it off all in one go rather than dragging it out. I was wrong. It would have been better to leave the damn things on. I had a long skirt, I could cover up the fact that I didn't take my shoes off. Joe just slipped his shoes off... show off. Then we kneeled down on two open pillows and bowed our heads. I closed my eyes half mast to keep from falling asleep, and to keep from having my eyes wonder around the room (even though I was facing a wall). Meditate, okay... is this a meditation on something, or is it supposed to be on nothing? I chose nothing because I like that form of meditation, and I felt that was the vibe from the room. A meditation to clear the mind. After maybe 20 min. everyone started to get up. My feet were asleep. Then we started walking clockwise around the pillows very very slowly. Many of the Japanese people tried to walk at a slow, but steady pace, but the abbot would only move one foot's heal to the toe of the other very 10 seconds. We had a pile up. Once everyone caught onto the new way he was introducing them to moving around the room we un-accordion-ed. Then we sat back down on our pillows, and meditated again. After that we stretched, then we all walked to a table with a Buddha statue and bowed to it, and then we put our shoes back on. "Please, will you come with us for breakfast?" a little woman asked me with a thick Japanese accent. "Sure," I responded, nervous to say it in Japanese after how Naioki couldn't understand me.

We all headed for the room behind the main Buddha alter where there was a kitchen and dining area. The only other white people had us sit at the end of the table across from them. They were from New Zealand and were now living in Hawaii, so they gave us a bunch of information about New Zealand and where we could go to some more Soto Zen temples there. The others were mostly speaking in Japanese, and it was very hard for me to understand them because there were 5 or 6 different conversations going on at a time, and I can't even follow English speakers when they do that. The studding abbot (I assume) in the light blue robes sat next to me and pored everyone around him some tea. Then they had Japanese rolls (very good) made by the little old woman who invited us back there. Before we passed out the fruit and other assorted breakfast foods we chanted some Japanese. You would know the chant if you heard it. The little old woman gave us all sheets of paper with the mantras on them so we could follow along. Then: thump, thump, thump, one, two, one, two, the abbot began to keep time on the table. Then for every beet a new one syllable sound we would say and hold until the next beet with the next sound. For 2 syllable sounds we wouldn't hold the notes, and it sounded something like this:


It went on for about 2 or 3 minutes, and then we ate. After talking with everyone and sharing our trip with them they invited us to come to their Sunday prayer meeting, and we agreed. Then they started to clean up, and I tried to help but they just shushed me away. "Don't even try, they wont let you." the woman from New Zealand told me. But, she didn't know how stubborn I was. So I kept helping, and started washing the tea kettles, and another woman came over and told me I could help only if I dried, and that she would wash because I was a guest. I was just satisfied that I could help. Then Joe and I came upstairs with the main abbot and he had one of those big screen Mac computers without a tower. Joe bit his lip, he wanted one so badly. He brought up pictures from his trips to Japan and told us places we would have to see, and gave us tips about how to get around the Tokyo airport and bus terminal. Then as we were leaving he got into a discussion with us about how the Japanese people felt about WWII, and how if roles had been reversed and they had blown up LA and NY, we wouldn't be cool with them the way they have forgiven us. "Or am I totally missing something?" He agreed with me that they have the mentality of whats past is past. They attacked us, and we overreacted, and there were circumstances of fear that we will hopefully never understand, thereby leaving us in a state of only sympathy... but never empathy. Other than that he really didn't seem to have much more insight into their mentality than I had already concluded myself. He did have some stories though, and one really stuck with me. It was of this old woman he met in Japan. She remembered those days in December vividly. She was on a train heading to visit her family. When they were only an hour away the train stopped. Nobody knew why for the longest time. And then the train started heading back. "Doushite Kudasai?" she asked the train operator. He told her they were heading back because Hiroshima no longer existed. It had been literally blown off the map. Crushed, she headed back to her home and morned their deaths. The next day she bought a new train ticket to the only other city she had family in. Imagine her fear when on that train 2 days latter... it stopped, and started heading back. Her only other family lived in Nagasaki. And still, this tall very American looking male talked to this woman, and she held no grudge against him. He was not the reason her family was killed. It was his country that did it, and not even the country he lived in now, but his country from 50 years ago. It just didn't make any senesce to her to blame him today, or to blame his country today for what happened all those years ago.

Walking home with Joe we discussed what we thought about what happened in WWII, but the conversation kinda died when we got to our street b/c we were starting to get really tired, cranky, and fighting a little about how we treat each other. Nap time? Hell yeah. I'm not used to holding to a schedule. When we finally woke up Stephanie was in our kitchen making lunch. "You kids finally up?" I told her that she was the one who slept in because we were already up, meditation for like 2 hours, had breakfast with some Japanese people, and had our afternoon nap. (So there.) "Well then, you kids ready to go swimming?" Joe declined b/c he wanted to start on the vines this weekend, but I said I could go. Since it was weekend 4 mile was crowded, so she took me to Richardson's a little ways down the road instead. It didn't have the fresh spring water, so it wasn't sacred or special to people, but I think I liked it better than 4 mile. 1.) No spring water = warmer water 2.) Black sand = cooler than normal sand 3.) You could see Mauna Kea from the beach! And... I didn't have my camera. Damn it! I decided that I needed to start bringing my camera around now. Screw having someone steal it or loosing the photos to travelers point crashing, whatever the new tragedy maybe... I think I decided that its better to have photographed and lost than to have never photographed at all (and yes, I had to write that sentence with loved in it first to get the phrasing correct). This was proven true when I searched the internet for the picture I wanted to take that day. It should be easy right? Black sand beach with a view of the mountain with its little white balls of observatories on top. Classic photo. Nope, couldn't really find one. So here are some that I did find, and I'll try to talk you through the images to see what I saw.


Here is the beach (small, but good). But there are clouds in the background covering up the mountain on the left, so here is another pic. of the same place, but from a boat on a clearer day:


Hopefully that makes up for my lack of a camera. Anyways, at the beach Stephanie was asking whats going on with Joe and I, and I told her that we were fine, but just having a difference of opinion about how I treat him. He said that I could be nicer to him, and I said I was. Then Stephanie just came right out and said, "break up with him." Really? Over that? I told her we've been through a lot worse things than this, and if we've made it through those, then I think we have something holding us together a bit tighter than could be broken by this quarrel. Then she told me about how life is too short, and how I could be on this trip without him, and how I would make more friends along the way if I didn't alway have a person I already knew to lean on for company, and how she didn't think that one person all your life could really satisfy all of your changing personality needs. It reminded me of the book Eat, Pray, Love; a book that my mom suggested to me about a year ago. She was unsure if she should b/c she liked Joe, but she could see him in both the ex-boyfriend and the future husband, and she wasn't sure if I would feel the same way, thereby pressing a wedge between us when we were at our most stable, happy and solid period of our relationship (everyone is always happy when planning a vacation, especially one that was going to last as long as ours).

“But I really loved him.”
“Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don’t you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching. I mean you got zapped, kiddo. But that love you felt, that’s just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That’s just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck, Groceries – you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It’s your destiny. Don’t laugh.”
“I’m not laughing.” I was actually crying. “And please don’t laugh at me now, but I think the reason it’s so hard for me to get over this guy is because I seriously believed David was my soul mate.”
“He probably was. Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can’t let this one go. It’s over, Groceries. David’s purpose was to shake you up, drive you out of your marriage that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it. That was his job, and he did great, but now it’s over. Problem is, you can’t accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life...
“But I love him.”
“So love him.”
“But I miss him.”
“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll be really alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with the doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go.”
“But I wish me and David could —“
He cuts me off. “See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”

"In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place."

— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia)

I told Stephanie (in less eloquent speech if that could be possible), that I was hoping that Joe could be my soul mate, my best friend, and my lover. He could come in and out of those roles depending on the situation, and thats how one person could really satisfy all of your changing personality needs, because they change with you, and you change with them. Leaving seems too easy and too hard, both at the sam time. To this day (in Jinan China, March 31st) I still think I may just be spineless. No wishbone, no backbone, just nothing, riding out life the way it goes, but fighting change when it comes, forced into a forever stalemate that I'm not sure is for the best, for either of us.

That night we went to temple, and God did not rush in, and I didn't think that it was because I was holding onto Joe that God was holding out on me. But I could be wrong, and I'm just too afraid to test that theory because what happens if I was right? Do you get a 3rd chance at love? And if I was wrong, would I really want to be one of those people who really love God? I don't think thats me. I don't think I'm the type of person who could be really passionate about God. Odds are that if I found God, I would be more spiritual and probably happier in that regard, but also very lonely because I wouldn't be able to devote myself to God, and I'm not really much for dating. Maybe thats another reason why we've stayed together for so long. I don't want to start all over again. That can't be the only reason obviously, but it sure as hell has to count for something. I think that this is one of the reasons why many people stay together for long periods of time. Not the only reason, or even one of the main reasons, but somewhere on the list of reasons to be with someone, I'm sure that one comes up. And I came to all these conclusions at the dinner section of temple when I sat next to this really beautiful woman who turned to me with these bright gorgeous blue eyes (I find beauty very intimidating) and asked "Isn't God just Amazing?" What do you say to that? I mean really? I didn't find God that night, or all week with the Hare Krisnas for that matter, yet hear I am eating their food and participating in their chanting... what do I say? "Well, considering everything Gods done, I'd be pretty excited if I could even do one billionth the things Gods done, so, yeah" I smiled and nodded attempting to make it a joke while at the same time not being offensive or even giving her the slightest idea that I am kinda agnostic leaning towards atheism. We talked for a bit, and I felt more and more uncomfortable by the minute as she told me how one day she just knew, you know? And she felt God, and this that and the other thing, she just knew. I nodded like I knew, but I didn't, and I also didn't think I ever would. But anyways, my point I think is this, I am confused about life, god, relationships, love (yes I hold that separate from life, relationships, and yes, even god), and going on a trip to find myself has only added more questions.

Posted by - Rain 21:31

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Last sentence was superb, and I identify greatly with it. There were more new entries than I thought so I'll have to email you tomorrow as it is late. But not late for you I imagine.

by laurr

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