Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Waiʻanae Public Library to give a talk on “Find Your Mana and Build an Awesome Ku Life.”
Laurie, the head librarian, was kind enough to invite me to share my story with the community. Just like my talk with PONO TODAY, I was very nervous because the audience was unknown but I guess that’s kind of a normal thing. You’ll never really know what to expect.
When I told friends that I would be speaking out in Waiʻanae, most of them quickly said, “Whoa, all the way out there?”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the island, Waiʻanae is one of the furthest points on the west side of Oahu. To even us locals from other parts of the island, it’s a way out there.
As my wife and I drove along the west coast of Oahu, I began to remember the times my family drove to Makaha beach. I remembered hearing stories from my grandfather about, as a young boy, he and his cousins would play in the valley. And growing up, I enjoyed several Aipa family reunions out there as well.
When we got closer to the Library, I felt my heart begin to beat against my chest more. Waianae is known for being a tough area where poverty is a problem, and where tourists are warned about visiting.
I glanced up from my notes and looked right towards the mountains. It was an overcast day with the sun rays just beaming over the mountain range. Known for being the land of Pele, the fire goddess, and for its dryness, it was alive and lush.
“Are you ready?” Mari asked me.
“I think so,” I replied still looking out the window.
We arrived at the library, the parking lot was empty and my talk was about to start in 15 minutes. This should be interesting, I thought to myself.
I gathered my notes, a bunch of copies of my book – Aloha to You, and nodded at Mari. It was a small Library. A basketball game was going on in a gym close by. I could hear the squeaks from shoes and the dribbling of the ball across the parking lot while cars raced by on the other side along the one main road going through Waianae.
When I entered the library, it too was quiet and empty.
I began to doubt myself and feel a bit disappointed. Mari grabbed my arm and walked beside me.
Before that day, my dad asked if I was going to be ready to speak out in Waiʻanae. I shared how I was hesitant and was unsure if my story or thoughts would really help. He simply said, “If you only make an impact on one person, that person will forever be grateful.”
I understood what he said, but there I was standing in the Library and there was no one.
Finally, I walked up to the front counter to ask for Laurie. ”Aloha, is Laurie here?” I caught myself loudly speaking and was waiting for a big Shhhhh! to come the front desk. Laurie came out from her office and greeted me with excitement. I figured, at least she’s excited to see me.
She led me to a room down the hall where my talk would take place. As I walked in to the room, there was a woman sitting in a chair.
“Aloha,” I said to the woman.
She smiled and replied, “Hello. You must be the Ku Guy.”
I laughed and nodded, “That’s me.” Mari and I started to place my things down and moved chairs into a circle to give it a more casual feel. The woman got up from he chair and began to help.
She had a contagious grin, fair skin, and soft blue eyes. She took a seat back in her chair and placed her black purse on the ground in front of her. “So are you from out here?” She asked.
“Nope, I’m from Kailua side.”
Then she started to share her story of living out of a van for years with her daughter while the daughter attended Le Jardin Academy in Kailua. She would drive to Waiʻanae every week to do laundry at a friends house to wake up the next morning to leave by 430AM in order to beat the traffic and for her daughter to get to school on time.
I stood there listening. She was calm and didn’t blame anyone or anything.
Slowly, people started to trickle in and each with their own story. My parents arrived and came to the front of the room to embrace me. It helped me calm down because I was feeling quite overwhelmed with the stories from others in the audience. It was definitely a different audience than my first talk at Na Mea Hawaii in Honolulu.
Laurie asked for everyone’s attention and welcomed me with a lei pua kalaunu, Waiʻanae purple crown flower lei , which is by far one of my favorites. She shared how she came across my blog and was intrigued by my Ku Lifestyle that I talk about, curious about what I had to say, didn’t know what to expect, and then she gave the floor to me.
I began and introduced myself. Then I became totally honest with my audience and told them that I feel out of my comfort zone being out in Waiʻanae all the way from Kailua. They all laughed because they understood that not many people go out to that side very often.
I shared the feelings I had on my drive; self-doubt, uncertainty, fear, and more. But then something clicked within my na’au, soul.
Looking at the mountains and seeing the familiar beaches from my youth on my way into Waiʻanae calmed my mind.
My wife next to me the whole way; she helped me put my books in a nicer bag than I had them in, checked on me while in the car looking over my notes, and sensed my self-doubt while I stood in the library and held my arm.
Then I thought of how my parents, who also took time out of their Saturday to drive to Waianae from Kailua, walked in the room smiling and embraced me.
All of this going on in my mind during my introduction that was unplanned.
As I looked around the room, I mentioned that I was brought there to help them find their mana but yet in order for me to do so, I had to build my own.
Depending on where you are and the people you have around, your Mana can vary. It is my hope that my Mana with the athletes I train, the friends I have, and the people I see on a frequent basis, is on a high level.
But there I was out in Waiʻanae speaking to people who had no clue who I was, what I do, and more importantly why what I had to say was so important for them to listen to. To them, my Mana was still on the lower level.
While my audience listened, nodded their heads and smiled, I began to feel calm and relaxed. During my talk I stood up, moved around, laughed at myself, showed the beginning of a ha’a, and probably rambled a bit.
At the end of my talk, many people from the audience came up to say thank you, shared a bit more of their story, and asked if they could purchase my book and if I could sign it.
Mari stood on the side watching me and my parents sat in the back – my sources of Mana.
Wherever you go, you want to build up your Mana but leave a bit behind. When you enter a room, you want to leave a positive and influential impression.
I entered Waiʻanae feeling very low of Mana but left Waianae a bigger and stronger person.
For that – Mahalo Waiʻanae.
Go out and Live Ku!
Interested in having me come in and talk to your group/organization, you can find more information HERE.