Nov 15, 2014

Thwarted

my reading room
Foiled. Forestalled. Derailed.

Shingles and sharky waters have interfered with my plan to swim every day so I use up ocean time with a thesaurus. That's not a complaint, by the way. Words and their meanings fascinate me. People who can string words into stories are my idols.

I enjoy reading. Anything. If presented with a cereal box, an encyclopedia, a dictionary, I'd read it as a kid. Today I remain infatuated with books and the stories they tell. My wallet has more library cards than credit cards and there's generally a book (or three) at my elbow or in my bag.

With the water off limits and time on my hands I've taken to reading stories relevant to my current place in the universe.  One of the more enthralling stories I've come across is a historical drama, filled with intrigue, powerful characters and a redemptive conclusion (as most of my favorites tend to be ~ I like happy endings). In short: it's the story of Maui. And it's a very different tale than many beach-going, mai tai-sipping visitors think they know about the island.

Here it goes: 
Legends say the demigod Maui hauled up the Hawaiian Islands from the sea with his mighty, magical fish hook and snared the sun atop Haleakala in order to slow the day so that his mother's bark cloth could dry. The island of Maui and the constellation "Maui's Fishhook" (aka Scorpius) is named after this mythological figure. There are a number of other Oceanic legends about Maui and his feats but I'll leave those for you to read later.

Oral history tells a different story: 
Until the 15th century, Maui was comprised of several chiefdoms. These were united by King Pi'ilani who merged the factions into a single royal family or ali'i. The island prospered peacefully under this rule for more than two centuries and today we can still see remnants of the King's Highway that circled the island along its coast. The last king of Maui - Kahekili - was defeated in 1790 by King Kamehameha the 1st in an epic battle. Kamehameha took control of Maui and made Lahaina the new capital of the unified Hawaiian kingdom. 

Here's where it starts to develop into a truly interesting story: we throw in Spanish castaways and the always devilish Captain Cook shows up. Next, American fur traders and whalers of all nationalities make their debauched entry into the scene. Toss in a bunch of missionaries and a Hawaiian Queen with power issues and we have combustion equal to that volcano which decides to erupt at about the same time. Kaboom. And all that's BEFORE the plantation era and the US government's scheme to overthrow the monarchy which add contemporary literary tension to the tale. Oh yeah, and a war. How's that for a dynamic plot?

See why I can't tear myself away from this narrative? Wouldn't you want to keep reading?




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