Several years ago, while I was alone in my office in the middle of the day, I saw something that made me wonder if I had hallucinated for the first time in my life.
I was preoccupied with an issue that I had been dealing with for several weeks. A family member was chasing a dream opportunity. I was supportive of this dream, even though our family would have to live apart, in two different states, if it came true. The sacrifice would be worth it – this opportunity was too precious to pass up, and it would be a source of pride for our entire family.
Unable to focus on work, I rolled my chair away from my desk, got up, and walked to my couch. The afternoon sun was peeking through the blinds of my windows, so I sat with my back to the windows and my legs stretched across the couch. To my right about two feet away, also with its back to the windows, was a small bookcase.
I thought about how much I wanted this thing to happen, and I began to cry. Human beings cry out of sadness, pain, or distress. It wasn’t sadness or pain that was making me cry, it was desperate wanting. Crying releases chemicals that counter stress hormones, making the crier feel better.
As I wiped my eyes and nose with a tissue, something on the floor startled me. It was a blue mo’o – a blue gecko. It darted past me and froze between my couch and my bookcase. I blinked quickly a few times to make sure my vision was clear, then froze and stared at the mo’o.
I had seen many mo’o when I was a child in Hawai’i, where they’re very common, and I’ve seen some mo’o in California where I live, but I had never seen a blue one. It was also bigger than any mo’o I had ever seen – about five or six inches long from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail.
I was probably not breathing in my shock, but thoughts ran through my brain: Where did it come from? How was it blue? (It was navy blue. The carpet in my office is gray.) Can it jump up on me? Can mo’o bite? Should I get up and run? Then as suddenly as it appeared, the mo’o scurried behind my bookcase.
I waited for it to come out from behind the bookcase, checking to the right of it, to the left of it, and behind it. It felt like forever, but I waited for about twenty minutes. The mo’o never came out.
When I decided I needed to get home more than I was afraid of the giant blue mo’o, I walked back to my desk. I told myself if the mo’o came back out, it wouldn’t hurt me, but I intended to be out of my office soon anyway.
I went home that afternoon thinking about that blue mo’o. Had I fallen asleep and seen it in a dream? So was that what a hallucination felt like? Or did the mo’o really appear in my office and vanish behind my bookcase? … People are going to think I’m crazy.
For the next few days, I imagined what a typical day would be like if my family lived apart. I imagined text messages and phone calls replacing talks over dinner. I imagined receiving pictures and videos of special moments that I wouldn’t see myself. The financial realities of a second family home were sobering. Slowly I relaxed the death grip I had on my dream, and I became prepared to accept whatever happened.
Recently I read that a visit from a mo’o can be a message to face your fears. My mo’o appeared when I was afraid a dream wouldn’t come true. Somehow I must have concluded that my life would not be as good, as happy, as full, or as meaningful if it didn’t take off in a specific direction. I was surrendering my power to decide for myself if I would be happy or fulfilled by conditioning my happiness and fulfillment on a future event. It wasn’t disappointment that I should have feared, it was my inability – or my refusal – to believe that I could be okay, just fine, if life didn’t offer me the path I wanted.
I often think about my blue mo’o. It’s still hard for me to believe that it actually appeared in my office that afternoon. A trace of doubt may linger in my rational mind, but this experience had an undeniable and profound impact on me, because I know this: I have nothing to fear if I believe that I will be okay no matter what comes, or does not come, into my life.
My blue mo’o hasn’t come back to visit.
Hawaiians believe that ancestral spirits can take the form of animals, plants, or other natural elements. An ancestral spirit who acts as a family guardian is called an ‘aumakua.
©Living off Island, writingwahine, 2015.