Friday, January 29, 2010

The power of the word: The subtle yet powerful difference between "adjusting" and "adapting"

Ho'oponopono ... to adjust
Ho'oma`a ... to adapt

Source:  Ulukau

Almost forty years ago I boarded a plane at the Honolulu International Airport, heading for Seattle.  I was a newly married woman leaving the islands, the valley and the culture and the ways of being on the Planet familiar to me thus far.  This was summer, 1971 and this wahine was in for a major re-tooling at so many different levels.  1971 was the calm or the pre-renassaince era of cultural awakening.  The plane was taking me kela (over there) and the action of re-discovery would begin on the islands of the Pacific shortly after that.  My destiny was cast at birth, astrologically, Venus was in the sign of Sagittarius when I was pulled from the womb (a C-section; I was really not ready yet ... auwe!) and Jupiter sat close by, conjunct Venus, in the 10th house.  I would auana (wander and travel).  There were signs of the seeker in my chart and in my genes. 

My decades of life in the Pacific Northwest at that point were years spent in a very haole world.  My son and I were singular in our brownness and at that time my choice whether conscious or not, was to ho'oma'a (to adapt).  Leaving O`ahu, Kuli`ou`ou Valley and the history that I felt (at the time) confined me to a mold too tight and unyielding, I believed it right to become something or someone else.  In the definition of things, to ho'oma'a is to adapt ... as in to become something else in order to survive or acculturate.  The place that was my Pacific Northwest home allowed such incredibly pristine new realities.  It was country-living perched on a high bank overlooking Puget Sound.  Puget Sound = ocean to me even though it was not really ocean, it was big water and that was close enough.  In many ways, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest; grew to become an adult with successes in the material and working-girl world.  The culture of the times valued these successes and I was affirmed.  My hapa-haole son grew up in a place that would provide him a base that seems to suit his Libra Sun and Gemini Moon.  He is comfortable with foundation and yet his Gemini Moon seeks. 

I have written about the changes that began to make my adapted life uncomfortable (see "Nana I Ke Kumu" ... look to the Source in Our Turn, Our Time).  When my marriage of twenty three years ended in the early 1990's the soul of my culture of origin had in part, waited far to long and I returned to O`ahu to heal and rebuild my foundations.  This time I was going home to ho'oponopono, and adjust at a significantly different level.  An elder in training, a Makua O`o will experience many transitions, many re-births some will be easy and some will be C-sections.  A major healing experience during the years of living again on the islands of my birth was this:  there is a subtle yet powerful difference between adapting and adjusting.  I think it significant to encourage myself and any who read this, to consider the difference in their own lives.  Adapting is too easily used interchangeably with Adjusting when thinking thoughts, considering paradim or world view.  That is dangerous, if accepted without clear and intelligent thinking.  Evolution in the Darwinian sense might support 'adaptation' for the survival of the fittest?  Well, in my life I have experienced the short term value of adaptation; and find it necessary to choose differently.  I have just read a very powerful and compassionately scribbed article about the effects of MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) on self-esteem or self-worth.  That article (which I hope to share at some point in the future) reaffirms my belief that a human being challenged to survive and flourish does so by re-examining the culture into which she is born/lives.  Re-examining and challenging those values to see where adjustments can be made, not adaptation.  The essential nature of a human being is whole and the specifics of that core becomes the starting point.  It's hard work, yet is the most important work of any human being:  naming your value.  I think the power of discriminating thoughtfully between meanings of words such as 'adapting' and 'adjusting' rebuilds the human capacity to care well for the think and make loving choices based on an internal and organic sense of goodness. 

If you are a speaker of 'olelo Hawai`i, what do you think of this distinction between ho'oponopono (to adjust) and ho'oma`a(to adapt)?

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