A few weeks ago, I had the chance to see a Hawaiian Luau. This particular luau was a little different from most luaus. Most luaus have the traditional Hawaiian food, Hula dancers, Poi spinners/twirlers, and music. This particular luau that I saw was a cross between that and a retelling of the story of some of the first voyages from Tahiti to Hawaii. From the luaus website:
It is during the time of epic voyages between Hawaii and Tahiti, along one of the longest sea roads of Polynesia, that our journey takes place. Through laughter, fear, seduction and fire, a new legacy is created, born from the cherished seeds of their ancestors.
As the show concluded, I couldn’t help but wonder… what was it like for those early explorers of the world?
Outside of astronauts, I really can’t think of anything that compares to what these early explorers might have been feeling before beginning their journeys. And these astronauts would only have relatable experiences to those explorers that set sail after the ones that had already gone “first.”
It’s a reasonable question, yes? You’re venturing out into the unknown. Venturing out into uncharted territory. For those initial explorers, for the ones who left their land before anyone else had done so, they were venturing out into the water before anyone else had. They didn’t know that they would eventually find North America. I just can’t imagine what it was like for these early families to voluntarily leave everything they’ve known.
History wasn’t a topic that I was fond of in school. Nonetheless, I understand the importance of having an understanding of where we (as a species) have been to understand the possibility of where we may be going. As I reflect on some of these early experiences of our species, I wonder if, in my lifetime, we will again get to have this feeling of charting the unknown. I suppose we could say that scientists get to have this feeling when they conduct research. They are, in a sense, charting the unknown. Beyond that, we could even stretch the metaphor to include psychologists/psychiatrists who offer counseling where they help the client “plunge the depths of their psyche.”While these experiences may be similar, they don’t give me the impression that they would compare to making humans feel “small” in the sense that an experience like setting sail on the ocean might. Leaving the edge of the shore and being out in the open water without land as far as the eye can see — it’s quite an extraordinary sight! In fact, I’m told there’s nothing like it. To see stars stretch from one end of the horizon all the way to the other. Remarkable.
It can also be humbling, can’t it? To see a sight like this and realize that the Earth, that humans, are just a tiny spec in the universe. I really hope that in my lifetime (or very nearly after), humans again get to have that feeling. That humans will pilot spaceships and attempt to physically chart the depth and the expansiveness of the universe. I think we can do it. I feel we can do it.