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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Captured Knowledge

Last night in place of hula class I attended a lecture, that my halau hosted of course, by noted linguist and Hawaiian language professor Puakea Nogelmeier.



I was so tired this evening. I was coming off of a short business trip; a short, but a bit of a tiring trip. I wanted to go to see Kumu Puakea speak. I knew, as a member of my halau, it was my responsibility to go listen to the man speak. I wanted to. I'd been looking forward to it since I heard about it a few weeks earlier. It was Puakea Nogelmeier, c'mon. I'd be crazy not to go see him speak. Tonight, though, I was tired. I dragged my booty the school to see him. I'm so glad I didn't talk myself out of it. I would have been regretting it for the longest time if I hadn't gone, forever even.

At first when he was speaking I typed notes into my blackberry. Thinking that people would mistake me for tweeting the presentation, screwing around on facebook, or just not paying any attention, I stopped. I didn't want anyone to think I was being disrespectful.

During his presentation, Kumu Puakea spoke about his history, his last 40 years in Hawaii, what brought him there and why he stayed. The stories he told captured the sentiment of other experiences I heard about from other people. Hawaii captures you. There's something about it that draws one it. Its power pulls you in like a receding wave and only to be knocked over the head with another.

I think I could sum up the evening with the over-riding theme that knowledge is the most valuable thing that can be shared, and it's our responsibility to share what we have. Once shared, it isn't forgotten (you may run the chance of it being misinterpreted, however). Giving knowledge is not like giving away a material item. When I share something with someone, what I've shared is still mine. I haven't lost it. In fact, I've made it more real by experiencing it again in its retelling.

It's like a cup that never empties, yet never gets too full for more.

So, in the spirit of what I learned from Kumu Puakea last night I'm starting a new feature on my blog. I don't know what I'm going to call it yet, but I'd like to start writing a recap of what I did at hula the night before. I have a week to think about the type of things I should include. I'm sure you don't want to read "first we watched the class before us dance the last 10 minutes of their class time, then we got into our pukas, then we warmed up, then we danced some stuff, then we sat down and talked, then we danced some more, then we went home" and I'm sure my Kumu wouldn't appreciate explaining all the dances step by stem "the first verse is kaholo right, kaholo left, two 'uwehe . . . " I imagine recaps will be more personal, "I finally nailed that one move that's been giving me grief the last few weeks" or "we learned some concept or another that kept me up last night and I just have to share it."

The more I write, the better I get at expressing myself and making myself understood. Maybe writing about hula will help me be a better dancer.

We'll see how it turns out.

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