Sad in Tahiti

Now there’s a title guaranteed to garner sympathy.

I am in Tahiti, overlooking the Pacific, with a view profoundly beautiful, and a heavy heart.

For the last three mornings I have awakened well before dawn. I have watched the nearly-full moon dancing with the clouds as it set._DSC2542The Moon

I’ve listened to the surf roar as it washes over the reef surrounding Morea, speaking of the deep power of the sea. I’ve listened to the birds calling as dawn broke. Watched men racing on the currents, rowing boats or paddle boards. I’ve floated quietly in the waters, watching the sea life below, fish darting in and out of coral caves, every color and shape imaginable. And then listened as the roar of the surf is replaced by the roar of engines. Jet skis fly by, churning up the waters. Watched as the day shifted from the power of the sea and earth to man’s power.

Tahitian Dancers 3
Last night we watched the requisite “native performance”. It was anything but that–rather a deeply spiritual experience. It starts with the thrumming of a dozen drums—a sound that grabs your heart and takes control of its beat. The men enter, deep voices joining the drums, dancing with abandon, a dance of their strength and their connection to the earth. The women join, beautiful but with their own power, completely inhabiting their lush earth-mother spirits.

All were covered with tattoos in remarkable patterns that made sense in this context. Everything reflected their connection to each other and to this earth. Then in the midst of the power and thrumming, the performance ends with the dance of the bird. First a woman, covered in yellow feathers and then two men, their power now transformed to an unlikely grace as beautiful as any ballet I’ve seen. The drumming was punctuated by bird calls being made by the other men. I was reminded of Stravinsky’s Firebird or Sacré du Printemps, but this was more… more “sacré”.

And at this moment of deep meaning… the audience was asked to join and then to take photos with the dancers and a moment of profound significance was turned into a tourist sideshow.

I left the performance asking myself again why it is that when confronted with cultures with such powerful and beautiful ritual has the invaders’ inclination always been to destroy?? Why is our reaction not instead to absorb their perspective and add it to our own? With life as complex and deeply perplexing as it is, why would we not grab and hold every morsel that gives us more insight and rather destroy anything that counters our small, narrow beliefs?

I so I wake this morning in the midst of the beauty of Tahiti and with a heavy heart.


Tahitian Women

9 Comments

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  1. Ahhh, wonderful Revelations, yet I wonder if the lovely banner photo isn’t expanding the Idea Horizon, with its low lying heavy grey clouds of sadness topped by the resplendent sun basked clouds atop. Perhaps Aesthetic Beauty is like Energy, it cannot be created nor destroyed, only changing form, depending on one’s perspective. I wonder what the Wandering Albatross would say as it circumnavigates the southern oceans and isles, above it all, looking down on natives and tourists, jet skis and canoes?

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  2. Thank you for your thoughts on this. Please do not let your wisdom get you down! That can be an issue with you since you ARE wise, perceptive, sensitive, and smart . Did not mean for this to sound like something out of a fortune cookie. ( love the last photo, for some reason)

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  3. That is a profound question and it is amazing how we do want to travel and meet new cultures but than trying to turn them over to what we think we know about how it should be instead of let it enrich us the way we started of with. A bit closer to home it is like the way we talk to our friends and try to convince them on (sub)conscious levels of our opinion instead of listening with an open mind and heart to really hear and feel what the other person is going through. It’s all about control I guess. And it is very difficult not to. Thank you for writing and sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A beautiful place and good description. I liked the photos.

    Liked by 1 person

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