I’m sure everyone knows the legend that is passed on in cultures all around the world. The stories shared around campfires, in caravans, hotels, and people’s homes. Wherever folk gather together, long after the sun has set, eventually someone will start talking about the legend of Kinipela. The mysterious woman who will always make a conversation take the next step. Who will cross the line nobody else is brave enough to cross. Who will do so without any expectation of thanks or appreciation. She will do it because she loves an adventure. Because when she sees a line, she can’t help but want to cross it.
A woman of breathtaking beauty. With a body that can make grown men weep and a smile that brings light to the darkest of days. Some believe she has the uncanny ability to smile with her whole face in a way no other person can.
They say she was born in a northern land of snow and mystery. That she was raised in an igloo, kept a pet moose, and rode a snowmobile to school. Other versions of the story say she skated on lakes of ice or paddled a canoe.
As an adult, she is said to have travelled to the ends of the earth. Nobody quite knows what she was seeking. Some say she didn’t even know herself. But she found herself in a land of sun, beaches, and ice cream. Although the translations do differ at this point. Some suggest is was a land of shopping malls, netball clubs, and primary schools. And ice cream.
Regardless of the reason for her travel or the nature of the land she discovered, the legends agree on one thing: that she found a precious treasure there. Of course, they disagree on the nature of the treasure. Was it gold and jewels? Or a fountain of youth and beauty. Some suggest a handsome man who brought her pleasure no other man could. The stories add that a dedicated librarian guards these sections of the original manuscripts because their contents are too shocking for most to read.
The legends say she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to, if she considers it worth doing. And that good things happen to those who are close to her. She has a way of bringing people together. Of seeing connections between one person’s needs and the opportunities another can provide. She seeks little for herself but always strives to help others.
Kinipela views much of the world through the lens of what most believe to be a camera. But it is clearly no ordinary camera. With it she captures not the souls, but the smiles of those she sees. Not for her own benefit of course, but for the benefit of the people themselves. So that in their darkest of times, thanks to Kinipela, they will never forget they have a smile. They will never forget the world can, and will, be better. They also say she can be booked for weddings, parties, and family portrait sessions.
Many people believe the legends are just that: legends. But others place great faith in their truth. They believe in the stories because they know there is hope in them. There is hope in the chance that such a woman exists. A woman of breathtaking beauty, of amazing compassion, of wisdom and knowledge far beyond her years (which according to what few pictures exist, must surely be early to mid thirties). They know the world is a better place if Kinipela is real. They cling to this hope and live their days longing to meet her.
Different cultures know Kinipela by different names. Jennifer, Jen, JenJoy, Jeffina, JJ, or simply J. There is one very small tribe that calls her Budina. One story tells of a nation of mighty warriors that once called her Jenny. Despite a polite request to use any of the appropriate names, they chose to use the forbidden name once again. Those warriors have never been seen since. All traces of their people have been erased from the history books. Their ashes scattered across the earth, destined to be blown this way and that by the wind as a constant reminder of their folly. Of course, even among those who believe the legends are true, most suspect this to be an unreliable account. But are you willing to take the chance?
There’s one last thing about the legend that confounds scholars to this day. Some manuscripts clearly place her birthday in the summer. Others place it in the winter. This is one of the great and precious mysteries surrounding this amazing woman. Perhaps we will never know the truth.
But we do know that today is the day on which many people celebrate her birthday. So I join with them today in hoping beyond hope, in dreaming beyond dreams, in loving beyond love, that she is real, that she exists. And knowing beyond all knowledge that the world is a better place because she does.
Happy birthday Kinipela.
The world is a brighter place because of you.