Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Obake

So my folks and I went to dinner at this cute little Italian place tonight, and afterwards wandered over to the Long's Drugs next door, which is apparently something of a Hawaiian institution. I got a bunch of stuff for people back home who did nice things to make this trip possible for me (nothing says, "Thanks for doing extra work so I could go sit on a beach in paradise!" like chocolate covered macadamia nuts). And I picked up a book of Hawaiian ghost stories.

Dude.

I think I shouldn't be reading that shit before bedtime.

The Hawaiians are a very superstitious culture. There are lots of mystic, supernatural kinds of things that are alleged to go on around here. And for some totally non-rational reason, I completely believe this is the case. There is a distinctly preternatural vibe about the islands. I think there are places where mystical energies tend to coalesce; I find this to be true of several places I've been: Savannah, Georgia...Charleston, SC...NOLA...to name a few. I think if you are still and quiet, often you can feel the undercurrents of these places being a little differently charged than, say, Winnetka.

Now, does this mean I believe any ghost story I hear, or buy into every superstition anyone presents? Of course not. But, let's face it - the Greeks are a pretty superstitious people themselves. So it's kind of in my blood. And I think there is so much that happens on this plane of existence and others that we can't even comprehend...I'd quote the line from Hamlet, here, but that seems a little trite. Still, Horatio...

Honestly, even the most conservative organized religions have quite a bit of mysticism and supernaturalism about them. Transubstantiation, the choirs of Angels, stigmata, pretty much anything from the Old Testament, even the belief in a higher power itself is a kind of mythos and superstition. So why do we so easily dismiss that which we can't immediately explain? When my father was born and, let's face it, he's not that old - the suggestion that DNA was the heritable material of life, the code for every single aspect of who we are biologically - that would've been sneered at as preposterous. The entire vocabulary of existence reduced to four letters? Please. And yet, now I can send a Q-tip and $60 off to Utah and get a full profile of Maggie's lineage. We can cure some diseases with gene therapy. Every woman who gets prenatal care is offered testing to determine the likelihood of certain heritable illnesses. Heck, when *I* was born, ultrasound screening in pregnancy was mythical. Now, three decades later, you can get 4-D images of your unborn child at a shopping mall that are almost as good as having a window in one's uterus.

So why is it that we so easily discount some of the oldest lore? It's kind of weird, when you think about it...

Oh! Also weird? Some woman in her 60s was attacked by a shark right down the beach from us yesterday (we're staying in Kihei). Thanks, Jenn, for alerting me to that! Fortunately, the most dangerous thing I've seen around here (aside from the sailors) are the jellyfish I encountered on my beach walk this evening.

More pictures up tomorrow. But right now, it's 11:20pm local, and y'all, ghost stories or not, it's time for bed...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Superstitious--supernatural-----myths, beliefs. Question? Did they become part of the Hawaiian culture and history based on early survival? Passed down for generations with some accidental proof---once inawhile that took a firm hold and became their main stay in life. These "things" then became "ways of life" forever ---and it works for them.

After all they were stuck out in the middle of ocean for years before sailors found them---and created their own ways of life.

I feel certain "things" which could be supernatural-----but for me they are kind of real---is it my imagination? My mom was cremated and was set out in the wind and sky and after I accepted the idea---I feel my mom "visits" me and hollers at me---consoles me---laughs at me. My dad is buried in the ground---no response.

Now Dr. Kate--I surely am nuts. Family says I am---
Enjoy your last days Carol