‘The Tide Decides…’

The informant is a freshman at the University of Southern California. Over Spring break, she vacationed in Hawaii where she met a local in Maui, Hawaii.  He was working at a tattoo parlor and is originally from Maui. The local was able to communicate a folkloric proverb to Elshadaii that he found significant to Hawaiian culture. Elshadaii was able to pass it down to me.


E: “This one goes, ‘the tide decides but leaves behind seashells on the sand. For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.’”


Me: “ What does this mean to you?”


E: “Um, I think it’s basically a metaphor for the coming and going things in our lives. To me, it encompasses all of the joys that we come across and how they are beautiful in their own time but eventually everything must pass. And although that can be a sad thing, it’s better to focus on the good growth it brought us as opposed to focusing on the negatives.”


I feel as though this proverb perpetuates an optimistic outlook on life. The informant interpreted the proverb as saying that good things will come and go in life, but we should appreciate the growth we experienced as a result of these events. I think the proverb speaks more about being happy that certain things happened versus being sad that they are gone or over. Nonetheless, the proverb spreads a positive message and encourages readers to be more positive about the coming and going of people, experiences, etc.