Our unlearning begins when we release the strongly held inbuilt distrust of ourselves and each other. We must unlearn to relearn. Taking full responsibility for the vision of life we want, we uplift ourselves and the world. Our commitment to the vision begins.
These sentiments speak volumes to me of the integrity and grit of The Tūhoe people of Aoetearoa (otherwise known as New Zealand). They struggle with the costs of colonisation, with the depth of brokenness, with worry and despair.
And still, meeting with them, seeing their land, standing on the edge of civilization, and sharing our breath, was one of the most uplifted experiences of my life.
Mana, the power of knowing who you are
As you can see in the photo above, I met one of the Tūhoe, Tame Iti. His passion for change, his creative spark, and his deep compassion transmitted across the internet as I watched a TED talk : Mana, the power of knowing who you are prior to our trip.
Then I met him. Unexpectedly. Wow. Mind-blowing-ly cool.
The meeting is not about the ego, the self, it is about the place. Introductions start with your mountain and the river. The felt sense of respect in every pore of my being, connected to the Tūhoe. Weʻre interconnected. Though look at us, at first glance, it is too easy to simply see the differences.
In the past, Tame Iti was known as an activist, considered a trouble-maker by some, jailed, and freed. His people, the Tūhoe, have attained sovereignty from the Crown, and are now doing the vital work of restoring peace to the people and the land.
According to one person of the Tūhoe Nation, when the people work out their relationships, the land will be restored. I get this. On a very deep level I get this. I care passionately about the land, but I am a relational health coach, my focus is on people. When we are okay, the land is okay.
Gives more than it takes
The Living Building, on the Tūhoe Nation, is a building that gives more than it takes, is indeed remarkable. As we walked through the space, we discovered much about the purpose, the vision behind it. The impetus, as I understand it, was to demonstrate what is possible.
The Living Building impressed upon me the importance of having a vision, a purpose for living. While many still live in poverty, and struggle with addictions, and unhealthy conditions, the question of the use of resources to build this feat of wonder surfaced.
And so it is with me, I demonstrate what is possible. I live as a sober woman of integrity, in a committed and happy marriage. I am well-rested, fit, awake, and fully alive. I work on my relationship vision, which grows to encompass family, both offspring and parents, landscapes and Hawaiʻi lifeways, vocations and creative pursuits. I want a lot from life, and I give a lot to it.
Yet, ironically, I no longer strive. Striving begets strife.
Part of my unlearning has been to give up striving, striving for more, for perfection, for winning. Instead, I have a relationship with enough, with good enough, with cooperation, and, ironically, all of this invites abundance. Abundance of spirit, of connection, of time, of health, and of willingness to keep on keeping on, saving the planet one relationship at a time.
Despite cataracts, clear vision
Tame Iti showed us around his art studio. Depictions of Frida Kahlo peered at me as he told me he quit banging his head against the wall with his activism. How I heard that, was that he quit fighting anyone or anything, and quit hurting himself in the process.
He sees clearly. He understands we are all the same.
He looked me in the eyes, thoughtfully. I commented on his purple eyes, he told me they were cataracts and he was due for surgery next month. And yet, his vision is clear. He knows what matters most. To tap the creative spirit within all of us to create a better world, to restore the land, to heal the minds.
Unlearning to relearn
I must unlearn the role of colonizer and the accompanying guilt, remorse and shame I feel as an relative of one who colonized. I must unlearn addiction and the subsequent numbing out to lovingly show up to the present moment. I must remember where Iʻm from and tend to the land and the space between wherever I am.
The importance of mana, knowing who we are and where we come from, is vital. When I told him I was a recovering alcoholic, he replied, but where is your Tūhoe? In other words, I am more than a recovering alcoholic, a recovering colonist (via my ancestors), and a recovering American.
I am Proud to be Tūhoe.