March 14 – Taking a wreaking ball to what we love

Here’s the picture of our “house” when I got home last night:

Not to be overly dramatic, I must tell you that I knew that this was going to happen…someday. I just didn’t know that I’d only have 6 days to pack up and move out of our house when I returned from my Portland journey. But when our son and his fiancee picked me up from the airport in Honolulu, they said, “We’re coming to help you move next weekend!” What? Next weekend? “Dad says you guys are moving to a rental house.”

Well THAT was sooner than I thought! Cliff must be really eager to start this remodeling. Not only have the floors been sinking so unevenly that our doors and windows are all cattywumpus and won’t close properly, but our bathroom wall has been hemorrhaging from a leaking pipe behind the plaster, and rain has been pouring through the often-repaired roof of our lanai like a sieve, with dry rot and mold accelerating from a creep to a full-on sprint through the rest of the ceiling and roof. Yes, it was time for a serious remodel.

So after a call for HELP! to my mom, who at a spry 80 years young, flew over the next day from California, we began packing. This was a house where the original owners before us had raised all of their children, the house where we had generated so many fond memories of family gatherings and celebrations with friends. It was a refuge from the busyness of life in the world and a launchpad for all sorts of wonderful, crazy projects that Cliff and I have taken on.  Emptying the place of our belongings tugged on all sorts of reminiscence strings.

Waking up in our room to the sound of the birds’ orchestration for the last time, on the day we were moving to the rental house, I felt sad and anxious.  What if the new house never gets built? I had been so happy in this old house….

Cliff conducted the dismantling of the house, saving or giving away everything that was salvageable. Our neighbors even took the wall board paneling between the rooms. Out went the glass doors and windows, and now its ‘eyes’, through which we had looked out at the neighborhood and yard around us, were gone. The house had the vacant feeling of an unfinished house – kind of like we were going backwards and unbuilding it. Demolition was imminent.

Yesterday was D-Day. We’re not just talking about minor – or even major – surgery here. It was really going to be a death blow, of course with the hope and plan of rebirth.  We and the construction (deconstruction!) workers gathered around our kumu hula Malia in the early morning as she did a traditional Hawaiian oli, a chant. She chose one about the piko, the navel, about connection, new life and continuity.  I introduced the men to our pet turtle Greg, a small, friendly box turtle, who will be the sole resident staying on the property throughout the entire project. (You already know about me, home and turtles, from last month’s letter!) And that was the end of my goodbyes to the old house.

Cliff says that when the excavator dug into the old house and it fell, all of the men there were struck with a profound silence. Maybe creation begins with a song, a song whose vibration becomes so clear and resonant that some THING appears out of the resonance, and it lasts as long as that creative vibration continues. Eventually the ripples of that creative song recede back into silence, and the created thing is no more. In this pause, this soundlessness, a new song may arise. Without the pauses, the silences, there would be only a cacophony of endlessly jarring vibrations. How could there be a symphony? If all the stuff in the world stayed in its same form, cluttering up, how on earth would there be room for anything new?

So we make way for birth by freeing the old that has faithfully served its time. I hope that through this destruction for the sake of re-creation process I learn something about gracefully letting go. If I’m feeling this emotional over losing a house that I expect to get back in a new and better form some day, imagine how I will feel about losing a dear person from my life when the time comes. And what about this body of mine to which I am quite attached as it dances and plays and hugs the people I adore? Oh boy. I have a lot to learn about releasing what I love.

When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found.” – Sufi Proverb

No doubt gregarious Greg the turtle will be perfectly at home in his own shell, never minding the fall or rise of a silly house, and will be there at the end to welcome us home.

Resting in Stillness and Moving in Joy with you,


P.S. Mahalo to Brother Dan for traveling 2,500 miles to cart heavy boxes and build new shelves out of old boards for me AND for taking his first Nia class ever!


  • By Bing 15 Mar 2014

    Your story is beautiful Renee.
    I lost my younger brother last year, decided to back off Nia and dance awhile, took up scuba diving so I could visit tropical places. Have been to Indonesia, Mexico and headed for Little Cayman next month, Hawaii is on my list. I am back into Nia with love and energy, I get to dance with and learn from Adelle Davis today.
    Love Bing

  • By Bing 15 Mar 2014

    I’ll be learning from Adelle Brewer Bailando

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