Life at the Center: Wanna see the future? Vol. 54, January 2018
Letter from the Director
Writing this letter to you on New Year’s Day, 2018, I am taking stock of last year and of many years ago. The Romans dedicated January 1st to the god, Janus, whose two faces looked both to the past and future. Janus, namesake for January, oversaw time— its endings and new beginnings, gates and doorways. As we stand here on the precipice of a new year, do we not look to the past to get our bearings for where we are aiming?
I’ve always found January to be an important time on the personal, local and national levels, for looking behind to see ahead. I see us transforming our past in the present, creating our future. We do so gradually, sometimes seeming to lose ground, in Nature’s spiralling progression.
On the personal front, I remember a formational beginning in January 1st of 1979, when my beloved boyfriend of four years, Cliff, asked me to marry him. Recalling how our engagement unfolded 39 years ago, I see changing balances in our relationship that always manage to maintain our equality.
For a few months prior to our engagement, I had been playing around with different surname possibilities for us – such as hyphenating our last names, combining our last names, etc. – to keep parity between us. Tillotson + Auker… Tauker? Tillotker? Aukerson? They all felt ‘Aukward’!!! Then on New Eve, I listened to Cliff deliver a beautiful, poetic, philosophical talk at a gathering we attended. Wow. Shortly before the fireworks went off that evening, I told him, “You know, I am so inspired by what you said tonight, I would be honored to take your last name.”
Unbeknownst to me, Cliff was already planning, in the normal masculine lead fashion, to propose in the upcoming week. However, given my little pronouncement, Cliff suddenly felt the timeliness of the moment. So he proposed, just after midnight, on January 1, 1979. Of course I was ready with a definitive answer, “Yes, I would love to!”
Since that time, we regularly swing back and forth in who’s leading what part of our relationship. I feel as if I rely on him greatly for confidence and support – I certainly have for Still & Moving Center. Then 2017 required me to rely on some cool-headed yang (masculine) elements of my own nature to see us both through trying times. Based on our initial engagement, way back on January 1, 1979, our balance as true equals will no doubt reassert itself in another way in the future.
Remodeling Still & Moving
On the local community level, I recall January of 2011, when Cliff had already gutted the building at 1024 Queen Street and was now vigorously remodeling it for us to open Still & Moving Center. We were rebuilding the stairway, creating new studios and showers, replacing the upstairs support posts with a steel beam across the ceiling, laying the mango floors, etc. This year, 2018 will significantly mark the 7th birthday of Still & Moving Center, and the beginning of a new era.
Saturn goes through 7 year cycles, as Alice Inoue, an insightful Honolulu astrologer, recently noted to me; hence businesses need to renovate themselves every seven years. Looking back to our Still & Moving Center mission statement from 2011, equality and inclusiveness in terms of gender, gender preference, ethnicity, faith and economic background have been built into and practiced at our Center from the beginning. I have no doubt that we will stay true to the foundational principles of our inception as we progress onward. I still look to the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara and its 1976 Declaration of Interdependence, as part of the lineage that I follow with Still & Moving Center.
Hawaiians See Backwards
Here on the islands, I’ve learned from our kumu hula Mālia that native Hawaiians interpret their backs as symbolizing the future, and their fronts as facing the past – similar to the two-headed Janus concept. When we remember with gratitude those who in earlier times have cleared the path for us, we help pave the way for ourselves and those to follow us. According to kupuna Clifford Nae’ole, “By taking care of the past, the past will take care of the future. In Hawaiian thinking, the seventh generation behind you has made you what you are today, so it is important to focus on the future by thinking of the past.”
Hang with me here, dear readers. I think I’m seeing some important, hopeful threads weaving from the past into the present and future. And there’s another wedding in the offing!
History is predictive… if we are patient
On the national and global stage, last year in January America saw the incoming of a president, the likes of which almost none of us expected. But perhaps we could have foreseen it by gazing backwards. Looking to our history actually allows us to see that social evolution and progress do occur, building upon the past, even if it’s at a 3 steps forward and 2 steps back rate. If human progress mirrors natural evolution, it will always be cyclical, never a straight line upwards.
Going back to the American colonists’ revolutionary Declaration of Independence from King George in 1776, we find the assertion that “all men are created equal,” meaning that the common man had rights to self-government that even a king could not abrogate. Thomas Paine, a leading American patriot, tried to do away with slavery in his first proposed version of the Declaration of Independence, but that change was too radical at the time, too far ahead of the cyclic curve of progress. So in the Declaration sent to King George, “all men” was taken to mean all white men. We had to wait almost a hundred years for Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War to get the the slaves freed.
From Slavery to Presidency
On New Year’s day we can always celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation back on January 1, 1863. But again, progress sometimes doubles back upon itself. There were many seeming setbacks for blacks along the way from slavery to presidency. The Jim Crow laws enacted after Emancipation were designed to keep the free African Americans and other people of color segregated from the white Americans, until the Civil Rights movement forced an end to those laws by 1965.
Equal opportunity has since suffered resistance from all those who feel that their place in society is threatened by others lifting themselves up. We could again celebrate a great advance when, 9 years ago, we ushered in an African American president, heralding a new milestone of success in the integration of our society. After electing our first black president for two terms, the choice to elect our first woman president (Hillary) or our first Jewish president (Bernie) was such a shock to our nation’s system, we evidently needed to go around the other side of the spiral to elect the president we now have, perhaps to accommodate many non-black, non-female, non-Jewish people who nevertheless feel they have missed out on their part of the American Dream.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. asserted: “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.” What was a new, mind-stretching idea of the equality of all men at the founding of our nation in the 1700’s, cannot be undone. In fact, in spiraling motion, it is being further stretched! Since that time, we have increasingly affirmed that all HUMAN BEINGS are created equal. We can see our American notions of freedom and equality rippling out into the Arab Spring, for example, setting off all the expectable reactionary responses, and bouncing back now with Iran’s current uprisings.
Looking backwards helps us to see our trajectory and propel ourselves forward. So we can see beyond this next year, or 3 years, or 7 years into a future where multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-gender and multi-economic leadership of this country, and eventually the world, truly becomes the norm. Transforming our past in the present, we create our future… in Nature’s gradually ascending cycle.
Returning to our family circle, Cliff and I watch this January as our son and his new fiancee DD (Diedra) create their wedding plans together. Her parents also seem to have a strong, committed and balanced relationship. I trust anything successful Shankar and DD have seen in our marriages will strengthen the life that they will envision and create together for themselves.
As navigators at sea look back to the last-sighted land to chart their course forward, may we all fruitfully cast our gaze to the past to get our bearings, then boldly travel forth into our new tomorrows.
I wish you a 2018 of continuing light from your yesterdays, new foundational beginnings, and bright promise for the future!
Resting in stillness and moving in Joy with you in this new year,
And you, dear reader?
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