Monday, March 5, 2012

Wayfinding on the road to Hana

road to Hana; photo from   

On my second visit to Hawaii, I flew to Maui and set off along the notorious road to Hana. Glorious views of sea and waterfalls and rushing streams, but a test for drivers; over 50 miles of switchbacks, hairpin bends, and innumerable one-lane bridges. You must reckon the distance by curves rather than miles. The most common road sign reads, “Yield to Oncoming Vehicles”. Another directs you to honk before blind curves where the road narrows above the cliffs so two cars cannot pass.     

    I turned on the car radio and caught the beginning of a public radio discussion of a TV program airing that night on Wayfinding, the ancient Polynesian art of navigation. Nainoa Thompson, the Hawaiian leader of a team that built a double-hulled voyaging canoe dubbed Hokule'a (the Hawaiian name for Arcturus) and sailed it 2500 miles to Tahiti without modern instruments in the 1970s, described the course in navigation he received from a master navigator the Hawaiians had brought from Micronesia to help train them in the ancient ways.
    The master navigator gathered the Hawaiian crew at night on a point of land on Oahu. He asked them to turn in the direction of Tahiti, 2500 miles away. Using the stars, they did this. When they had turned towards the island, he told them, “Now see the island.” When they could do this – when they could see and touch Tahiti with all of their inner senses – he directed, “Hold the vision in your mind or you will get lost.” This was the master class in ancient Polynesian navigation!
   In the TV program (part of which I caught that night) someone spoke of “pointing the canoe in a certain direction and bringing the island to the canoe” – rather than heading for the island.
   Out on the ocean, Polynesian navigators read the dome of the heavens, the winds, the sea animals, and the waves. But the key is holding to the vision. When you do that, you establish a magnetic current that draws your destination towards you.
   That is marvelous guidance for life navigation.


andrea said...

Such a good metaphor for creative endeavours, too.

Carol Davis said...

Thanks, Robert, for the reminder. I hope everyone who reads your post will re-member or find a vision that will guide them in their soul's highest purposes. I have a vision that needs some touching up with my inner senses so that I can navigate toward it. I feel the energy rising already!