It’s a genuine pleasure to present Makana in this installment of the TEDxMaui 2013 Speaker Spotlight series. Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Makana is an internationally acclaimed master of Hawaiian slack key guitar, singer, composer, and one of Hawaii’s cultural ambassadors to the world.
What drives you to do the work you do?
I view everything I do as an expression of my Being, whether I am breathing, speaking, dreaming, gardening, singing, playing music, writing, imagining, eating, moving, cleansing, serving community, sharing intimacy, or any activity. I perceive life itself as art, so there is no categorization separating out various expressions (work, play, etc): each is a way for me to express love. Inside of my Being there is an eternal fire, a burning passion, fearless and playful, guiding me to unravel the mystery, untie the knots and fling open the great barn doors of potentiality. I am sensitive, highly sensitive, and the sensitivity I allow myself to experience in turn inspires me to extend the definition of my “self” to include all that I perceive. It is this awareness that inspires my “work” here on Earth. I consider myself a “balancing factor’: I choose to serve the greater balance.
Share one personal experience or relevant anecdote that informs your TEDx talk?
The stage is a vortex of energetic agreement; it is where I am completely at ease. Rather than carry forth some mental construct into this sacred space, I feel to just arrive with an empty mind, feel the audience, feel the context, feel the physiology of the bodies seated in the chairs, of the climate in the theatre, of the previous ideas conveyed, of the hunger and inspiration swirling within those present, of the gravity and all that is seeking voice in that moment, and allow whatever arises within my sensitized soul to come forth. No mind, all heart, with decades of experience: this is my “job”, to show up and trust myself, my body, my mind, my heart. It is this uncertainty that fuels my art, my ability to deeply connect with my audience. By deeply connecting with my Being in the present I instantly access all Beings. We all have this ability. Essentially, I am talking about letting go of CONTROL and allowing something infinitely expansive to reanimate my Being.
How are you or your topic connected to Maui or Hawaiʻi?
Hawai’i is my piko. O ka ‘onohi o Hawai’i. I am born and raised here; the foundation of my music and the values I honor are rooted in Hawaiian traditions and wisdom. My culture is Hawaiian. My home is Hawai’i. I love her, I serve her, I receive from her.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I love you, you’re good enough, now let’s go have some fun!
What advice would your younger self give to the older you?
The younger me knows better than to try to offer advice to the older me. It doesn’t take advice very well 🙂 I simply love myself. To love is enough!
What do the TED Talks mean to you? Do you have a favorite talk that speaks to you?
I see TED talks as a window into parts of ourselves we have yet to explore. This window is open wide and the sun is shining through, thanks to all of the hard work that TED creators, organizers, and presenters have done to nurture the trust and receptivity of so many.
My favorite TED talk was about mushrooms saving the planet 🙂