I cannot help but think that the circumstances of the journey in my own life, the current experience of the girls here in the CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), and this churning of Mother Earth are all expressions of the same issue. We have become so disassociated from our connection with nature, with spirit, and the natural flow of life. The feminine has been politely trying asking us to choose love and bring our lives and communities back into balance…and she is not asking politely anymore.
This morning, I had an interesting conversation about the “native dance” here. Akin to the hula, this dance of the islands’ indigenous people, the Chamorros, was once a beautiful cultural expression shared by almost all of its people, but has, in recent years taken on new significance.
What used to be a celebration of the female body, its fluid movements, and the natural curves of the Chamorros is now turning into a display of thin figures – all of them looking alike for the most part. Where the girls used to dance with a natural face – no makeup, they now wear bright red lipstick, eyeshadow, and tightly pulled back hair. What used to be safe and respected by all people, is now a place where parents of dancers have to be “on the lookout” for men in the crowd ogling at their daughters.
The number of girls participating in native dancing (which seemed to once be as prevalent as participation in ballet, soccer, or T-ball are in the U.S) has been declining. Conversely, the incidents of low self esteem and linked behavioral issues are on the steep rise.
I couldn’t help but wonder if this phenomenon was a demonstration of a conflict much larger – that when you take away our ability to express what is moving through us authentically out of a need to or belief that we must please or strive for something outside ourselves, things go awry.
Body issues on these islands are pervasive – highly influenced by the media. Though the kids we talked to today live on a relatively remote island, their situation was almost worse because they get their images of normalcy from the media and internet and don’t have much to compare to. So what they see, they believe.
It made me sad to hear about this disintegrating native culture. From what I have learned of the Chamorros so far, they were deeply linked to nature and the land.
With this expression being killed off, I see there to be no accident the girls are acting out.
At the Rota airport, I checked out an exhibit of paintings that illustrated the island’s history – an account of the demise of the indigenous culture and rise to western culture. The CNMI’s geographical location made it a strategic target for trade and war .
What was once a thriving native people of 60,000 creative and skilled artisans, caretakers, philosophers and storytellers, became a much diminished community of 3,000 shortly after Spanish settlers came to the islands in the 1700’s. Then came the Germans and WWII, which left just 600 natives on Rota. The U.S. took over CNMI after WWII, and while the economy improved, media and Western influence has had its clear impact on these people. I cannot help but notice what once was a culture that seemed to thrive from a connection and expression of the heart changed drastically with the takeover of mine-centered mind.
Before boarding our puddle-hopper back to Saipan, we got wave of a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and upon our return, we found the island in evacuation. As we drove to a coffee shop near the airport to get internet access, and I saw the streets and fields lined with cars and families, I realized that this was a big deal. I could almost feel my parents worrying.
I finally got a hold of them and began to take stock of the situation via the internet. I couldn’t believe some of the footage from Japan. And then I remembered a statistic from a video I recently watched that talked about the dramatic increase in major earthquakes over the past 10 years.
She speaks in whispers no more. The feminine – the Mother – is trying to protect herself and her many, many children. Haven’t you ever seen a woman or lioness act like this? You can poke and prod her, disrespect her and devalue her, and she will still love you. She will still you, until one day you mess with her children, she gets pissed off, can’t take it anymore and lashes out. And then she continues on loving you some more. These tremors ask us to take notice and shift our perspective from fear to love.
I will tell you that I, at one time, only knew significance as what I saw outside of myself. I was an active contributor to the mine-centered, mind-focused way of being, and I honestly thought I was doing things the right way. Climb the corporate ladder, wear the fashionable clothes, look good, be right, etc., etc., etc. For whatever reason, I was given a drastic impetus to see things differently. And now I do.
I see a world, communities, and people that need healing – that need permission to settle back into a balanced place of heart that is supported by our brilliant mind. I see our greatest Mother, our planet – crying out. Her call is no different from that of these girls or mine. When the feminine gets shut down, shut off, and disregarded, she screams out in often painful, unpleasant and ugly ways.
It makes so much sense: that which exudes such beauty without even trying would have to create a such a show-stopping scene for someone – for us – to pay attention to the angst behind her magnificence.
I pray for the people of Japan – especially my Grandparents – that they may be safe, supported, and loved during this time. I pray for the others that this natural disaster will touch. I pray for the girls – and the boys. I pray that we will all continue to wake up and notice what we’re doing, the consequences of our decisions both good and bad, and what it might mean to choose love one more time than is comfortable in our days. I am certainly far from perfect, and I choose everyday to be just a bit more diligent, loving, and compassionate in my service and in life.
Dear friends, let us not focus on the fear, and instead choose loving thoughts for those suffering as a result of this – of these – tragedies. Fear will keep us small and bound. Love will set us free.
From my heart to yours…