As long as it takes.
Iwalani’s classroom is not fancy. No chic furniture. No Apple computers. No Wifi.
There’s a set of homemade green curtains, a few instruments made from pebbles, gourds, and bamboo sticks, and a wooden cubby to store your shoes. That’s about it.
But Iwalani doesn’t need much. Just a simple space, and her voice, and her knowledge — fifty years of practicing, preserving, and teaching the ancient art of hula dancing.
Fifty years of devotion. Fifty years of love. Fifty years of patient, steady work.
She begins with a demonstration. The music begins. Her long, slender fingers move in a wave — folding and unfolding like an enchanted flower — while her feet keep time with the rhythm. Her hips swivel in a precise spiral. Her face beams with a serene smile. She makes it all look so effortless.
I focus my gaze on her hands — so lovely and graceful, like a ripple of silk — and I wonder how long it took for her to master that one small hand motion. A month? A year? A decade?
We live in a world that’s outrageously impatient.
We send emails and expect an immediate response. We set ambitious goals and then grumble when things take longer than two weeks to complete. We lack the attention span to finish reading anything longer than a text. We want life-changing results and we want them instantly — and of course, with minimal-to-zero effort.
Watching Iwalani dance, I’m reminded that behind every seemingly effortless motion — behind every extraordinary work of art, every project, every business, every shining victory — there are thousands of hours of effort. There are bruised toes, scraped knees, sore muscles, crumpled first drafts, disastrous attempts, moments of doubt and frustration, and moments of sheer grit. Most of all: there’s patience. So much patience.
Iwalani’s troupe is preparing for a prestigious hula competition. They’re in the midst of rehearsing for the big event. I ask, “How long do you and your students practice every day? Four hours? Five? Six?”
Iwalani’s eyes crinkle and she smiles and tells me:
“As long as it takes.”