Kalani Honua Blog - Bootie Shaking

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jim Larsen

Jim LarsenSometimes finding yourself can happen in unexpected ways. I found an aspect of myself recently in a way that was really quite surprising. It happened in the kitchen.

Not very long ago during our pre-shift kitchen meeting, one of the shift leaders told a new volunteer, "We have a lot of fun in the kitchen. We listen to music and shake our booties." Now, mind you, I'm just a good ol' boy from the country, and was not one hundred percent sure what she meant by "shake our booties." So I decided to make that shift a learning experience for myself.

I grew up listening to country music and later became a fan of Rock-N-Roll. The phrase "Shake our Booties" never came up with the crowd I listened to that music with. I had a mental picture in mind of what I thought it might entail. I had imagined a Jerry Lee Lewis "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going on" sort of scenario, where hep cats and kittens were raising hell and tearing up the joint in an orgasmic frenzy of Rock-N-Roll ecstasy that could only be ended by a raid by the police. That was my highest hope of what "Bootie Shaking" might be. It's no wonder I was disappointed.

"Bootie Shaking" amounted to little more than one dude vibrating spasticaly at the sink while doing dishes to boring, uninspired music and the shift leader rotating her butt in a clockwise direction. I watched patiently to see if she would change it up, and maybe go counter-clockwise direction, but it never happened.

My disappointment was palpable. I tried to not let it show, but I felt it. I felt it in the core of my being. I am thankful that I was working "Front of House" that shift, because it gave me an excuse to get out of the kitchen and go down to the dining tent area to pretend to do my deep cleaning project before before anybody could ask me if I was all right, because, honestly, I was not all right. I was not all right by a long shot. I had a lot of soul searching to do, and I needed to be alone to do it.

I prayed that day down there in the tent area. I prayed that I may find a balance between my Rock-N-Roll Hell raising ways and their "Bootie Shaking." I prayed that maybe, just maybe, the Bootie Shakers would perhaps meet me half way and perhaps find some common ground, because I was willing if they were.

But you know something, they did not meet me half way that day. They left me feeling cold and out of place as they shook their booties, with me alone with nobody to Rock with. That was a defining moment for my career as a Kalani volunteer. It was the moment I knew it was time to leave the kitchen for good and give work in another department a try landscaping, perhaps. Because, to be completely honest, I hated the kitchen in that moment. I hated it in that dark, secret place in my soul that I prefer to deny is there, because what I see there when I am sent there scares me. It scares me to acknowledge that an enlightened being such as I can still harbor such venom. But I do still harbor it. I harbored it for the kitchen.

As I write this, I still work in the kitchen. I put in my request to leave, and it is being honored. I'll be working in the aesthetics department doing paint jobs in various rooms, and such things. I think that will be a good change of pace for me.

Things got better in the kitchen, and I am glad for that. We had an incident which provided an opportunity for us to explore common ground, the Bootie Shakers and I. I don't know how it happened. God's divine grace, perhaps? Possibly. What happened was, the Bootie Shaking shift leader was playing music from her Ipod. The kind of music that gives me a headache. I wasn't happy, but I accepted the music for what it was and didn't harbor a grudge, for I knew the others on the shift were enjoying it, at least. But it wasn't to be. The battery on her iPod died!

A dead battery. No music. Silence. Yes! This was my chance. My original scheme was to put my iPod on and get my revenge with my brand of music. What shall I inflict on them? My mind reeled. I'll teach you to inflict your crappy music on me! Let's see how you like some of my stuff. How about some hard core rock, Mojo Nixon perhaps, or how about Trivium or Isis? Or maybe go another direction and go for some down home country, Little Jimmy Dickens for starters? Buck Owens, maybe? I have it all and I am not afraid to blast it.

This is when I knew how much I really have changed. That part of me that really wanted to get revenge and seek revenge, just wasn't what it used to be. I observed that aspect of myself, said "Hello" to it and was not surprised to see it, but it no longer impressed me. That's not me. I got no use for vengeance or hatred. That's not a part of my programming and has no effect on me. Not anymore. So, no sooner did I say "Hello" to it, I also said "See you later."

Instead of inflicting ear-pain on my fellow kitchen workers, I looked through my iPod and found something I could rock out to, that they also could shake their booties to. I settled on The Best of Canned Heat. That's what we listened to that shift in the kitchen, and you know something? It was enjoyed by all. Maybe they shook their booties to it. I don't know. I wasn't paying attention. I was too busy enjoying the music in my own way. I was rocking out.

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