It’s Sunday and it’s time for a little “Island Sunday Session”.
This is a new entry for you, the reader, for self-indulgence on where and who I am as a person. So, get that coffee warm, breakfast set up, and travel back with me to a time during a pivotal point in my life.
We have little quirky things that we have to experience in order to consider ourselves, “Adults”. From Sweet 16’s to graduating from school (high school/college/university), these are very important milestones that make us feel like adults. It was a smidge different than mine.
I come from the island of Guam and I hate to say that my culture is dying. But one of the “Life Changing” moments that happened hasn’t been done since my grandfathers’ time. It sounds simple, like a meditation of sorts.
When I turned 18, with my parents’ permission (I was living under their roof, so I had to ensure their blessings), I was dropped off at a relative’s beach property. There was nothing but a beach, shower stall and toilet, and a hammock. For the next, 7 days, I was to find the Taotaomo’nas (Spirits of the Island) and like old times, have them guide me to becoming an adult. I know that it went against my faith, Catholicism, but I wanted to follow the same rituals my grandfathers did when they were my age.
The first night was very lonely. I had the waves hushing me to sleep under the warm starry night sky. Thoughts of fear of traveling the world were enough to attract a “Visit” in my dream. I followed this tribal warrior in preparation for a war. He didn’t wear war paint or armor of any sorts. The thoughts were put into words about how fearful he was about the battle but he knew that his family would suffer if he didn’t do anything to help prevent the inevitable. It fast forwarded to after the battle. As he laid there, gasping for air, my heart sank. He was looking into the sky for acceptance more than fear. He stood back up and embraced the fallen rival warrior and returned him back to his village. Owning up to his “Duty”, the family acknowledged and respected him for returning the body of their loved one back to them. That taught me, we are responsible for all our actions, good and bad.
The next morning, I went into the ocean and searched for breakfast and lunch. I had another visit. Only this time, it was a little fish. It’s one of those little colorful ones that you would see in an aquarium or Finding Nemo/Dori. Everywhere I swam, it was in eye shot of me. Not having any luck, I just observed it. Where it swam, I swam. Eventually, I headed back to shore and decided to eat a banana, reflecting so much on that fish. The lesson eventually smacked me like the cool breeze on my salted body. It was a tiny fish in a massive ocean. For as different as it may have been, it was who it was…a fish. People will look at me differently because I’m not from the States but I’m still a person, like them. Accepting everyone for who they are and what they believe in came from a tiny fish, who I considered eating…just being honest.
Little visits like that occurred through the next few days, each one bringing something alive in me. I felt “New” in a sense of really finding myself. But the biggest lesson came on my last night at the beach.
Filled with fish and fruit, I admired the day and decided to walk around. Each corner I explored, was no different. Rocks…sand…water…trees… It was all the same. I headed back to the hammock and decided to just admire the beauty of my home, my island. Watching the sun setting, for no reason, I just started crying. All these emotions of fear, loneliness, and regret just poured out. Teary eyed, I just stared into that sun across the horizon. A warmth over came me, like a loved one comforting you. The wind wasn’t as cool as it usually was, but more like a warm blanket. I asked, out loud, “What if I don’t make it back”? “What if I decided to stay in the States or where the wind had taken me”? The sun now disappearing into the ocean, a whisper of “Home” passed through me. This was the only one I didn’t figure out.
My mom came and picked me up and that’s when my military life began.
Years later, I finally made it make sense. “Home” isn’t just a place but how you see Yourself in life. The simple things, though repetitive, helped raise us. Rocks symbolized the journey through life, hard and coarse but it always led you somewhere worth going through. The sand represented our attitudes we have towards people, some love it while others just can’t stand it (I have known a lot of people who can’t stand the texture of sand). The water became the emotions we share. It is the life force that we have in common with everything on this plane of existence. The trees are our goals and they start from the ground. With time, they will be able to touch the sky and bear the fruits of experience to share with others.
This was my Rite of Passage. To think, I felt like I left home but it was really with me the whole time.
As always, Thank you so much for reading!