|MAN IN THE MIRROR: Taylor Wily's study in reflective thinking
Posted July 03, 2006
|By Lisa J. Fehoko
LAIE, HAWAII--We’re seated at a public eatery—not exactly the cozy corner spot for two weary souls to converse, but it’ll have to do. The blithe whirring sounds of cars passing only add to the frenetic electricity of dusk; the transitory period between two worlds—the oncoming night that squanders the day. A windy chill creeps among the rustic picnic tables, picking up speed as it nears us. Admittedly, it is a bad choice of meeting places on my part, yet such an atmosphere only adds to the mystique that is Taylor Wily.
He stems from a definitive genre; one of the warriors that came out to play in the nebulous field of Laie’s ingénue stage; a natural leader with a penchant for introversion, he sits before me relaxed with no trace of puffed up importance or self absorbed piety. Inwardly, I exhale at the absence of malice and with a penitent bow, Laieboyz.com kow tows into his domain.
The planes of his symmetrically even face run in graceful swoops, needing only a halo to finish off the cherubic effect. His deep set eyes take on an amber hue, as dusk settles between us. Wily breaks the silence with a wide smile, bright eyes dancing. The mood gets edgy as we begin the cat and mouse game of Q & A.
So let us begin—where were you born?
“I was born in Honolulu, at Queens (Medical Hospital)”—(His voice is a raspy whisper; a mixture of warm cider peppered with cayenne).
What was it like for you growing up? (There is always that exhale before taking the memory plunge; everyone feels it. Childhood can sometimes be a caustic training ground).
“Well, it was hard. (There) was the alcohol and the parties. We were members, but my parents were inactive.”
How many kids in your family?
“Six kids; four boys and two girls.”
Who were you named after?
“My dad’s brother (but) my middle name is my grandpa’s (paternal).”
How did your family end up in Laie?
“Well, my mom’s dad, Aisa Alo, came here in the early 1900s. And my dad’s uncle came down here as a labor missionary (for the Polynesian Cultural Center), and brought my dad down. My mom’s parents’ home was the place that the labor missionaries ate at.”
And that’s how your parents met?
Who was your greatest influence growing up?
(Thoughtful pause)—“I’d have to say my grandmother, my mom’s mom. She was very humble and she had the ability to get along with everyone. She was (also) strong in the church.”
What is the greatest memory of your grandmother?
“Her ability to forgive—even her own family members.”
So she was the peace maker?
What were you like as a kid?
“I was cool (nods). Sometimes I was considered too soft. I was friendly, so sometimes I was taken advantage of.”
What were your priorities as a young man?
(Another thoughtful pause)—“My family and close friends. Nothing has changed. I may have different responsibilities, but nothings’ changed. (As an afterthought, he throws in)—I kinda grew (up).”
As the conversation continues, Wily retracts deeper into his past. With the ebbing light sloughing the last specks of the present away, long buried memories are jerked free from their stationary tombs; unearthed for the picking.
Now we’re just vibin’.
“(Growing up) my parents were inactive. My mom raised us alone, and my dad, he was in and out of our lives. It was a blessing and at the same time, it was hard. Everyone looked at us (my family) like we were evil. There were the word of wisdom problems. I thought, ‘Wow, this isn’t even close to what other people’s issues are,’ but (thankfully) I had strong friends. (At times) it was hard because there were ward members who for six days out of the week did things worse than (we did) then on the one day (Sabbath) the same people were throwing stones at us. It was a blessing to us (in disguise) because now, as adults, we’re striving to be the best members we can be. (Back then) we easily befriended people. It’s funny, when strangers would come into Laie, we’d be the first ones to greet them. My mom was helpful, even though she didn’t smile a lot, so people thought she was mean—(laughs).”
What was high school like for you?
“High school—that’s a trying part of your life, a time of not knowing or (maybe) knowing who you are; a time to look for your niche or spot in society. It’s a phase where as friends, you are demanding on each other’s friendship. The best friends now are the ones you fought back then. It was a hard time, especially intermediate—but high school, that’s where we all started bonding; where we found out who was who. (Pauses)—Where you develop real love and (form) close friends.”
Who were your heroes growing up?
“I’d have to say my two older brothers, and of course other guys in Laie (that) I looked up to. And my mom and (maternal) grandmother.”
(The mood shifts slightly).
“My mother—I have to thank her for everything because I know it was hard (for her). She wasn’t perfect, but she kept us together. Back then, her family tried to get her to leave us.”
“Yeah. Her siblings told her, ‘Look, you’re still young. Just let (the grandparents) take care of your kids. You’re young enough to go out and start again.’ But my mom—she always kept us together—even when her family said, ‘Send them here (or) send them there.’ I didn’t realize how hard it was until I got older, and now that I have my own family, I can’t believe she took care of all of us by herself.”
I’m jazzed at being part of such a tender moment, but it feels like I’m intruding. A silent ode to all the mothers that endured the blistering walk of child rearing alone; a sometimes thankless job, with eternal rewards.
Switching to a more copasetic vein—Where did it all start for you, as far as being in show business?
“It was just blessings. I knew I had to step out of the box. I desired something more, but I couldn’t understand what. I told myself—I can always do better. I always knew that I wanted more than this, that there was more than just Laie Boys and turf; it was Laie Boys for eternity. There was more than just (merely) fighting for respect. I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t know if I quite understand it today—but I wanted more.”
(Waxing reflective)—“The young boys (today) like to hang out, fight and drink. They should (instead) be taking advantage of college and doing the things we didn’t do. I’d like to say (to them), ‘You cannot get more glory on the streets than we did.’”
(Back in sync)—“So I couldn’t be discouraged. I was not afraid to fail. I’d rather say that then, ‘I tried.’”
What about after high school?
“I left before graduation. My dream was college football but I got hurt during high school football; I tore a ligament in my knee.”
“No, I was in school at Farrington.”
Whoa. That I didn’t know.
“So recruiters dropped me because of my injury, and that was that. Adding to that was my rep—that I was always on the streets. Back then, I didn’t know nothin’, but what I did all my life. I knew I had to change—I was always afraid of getting into fights. It wasn’t about fighting, but I was kind of a softie; I couldn’t live with the idea of friends going home to their parents beat up. So I built up this rep—but Japan, that was a wake up call.”
“At Japan, you start at the bottom. I was scrubbing toilets. I shaved my hair. It was hard, but I knew it would be hard.”
Why did you have to do that?
“In Sumo, you start at the bottom—and it stays that way until you start winning, gain higher ranks and earn more privileges. Until then, you serve, you clean, you do the wash.”
“I wanted to make a difference. I figure I’d make enough money, and that would solve everything for my family back home. Personally I was growing—I was seventeen years old and finding myself.”
Were you homesick?
“Yes, but I could cope with it because the culture prepared me for it. (There are similarities)—Respect was important. And (of course) you got beat for your mistakes.”
What changed for you while you were away from home?
“Well, my focus when I went there (to Japan) was to help my family. Two years later, I came back to visit, and I wish I didn’t because I started realizing that things were not going to be the same forever. Something changed in me—I was the last in my family to get married, the last to have kids, so (at that time) I didn’t want to grow up. I mean, here were my little nieces and nephews that I babysat, and now it was different, they were getting older. I just felt different.
So was it a transition from another lifestyle?
“Almost like a death of a lifestyle. Things just weren’t the same. I became a zombie in life. I guess I was just in denial. I didn’t want things to change. I mean, I (had) experienced all these different things like T.V., wrestling, fighting, and body guarding, and (for the next) seven years made so much money, but I just spent it. Just being at home (in Laie) became unbearable so I stayed away for a long time. Every now and then, my family would call me and ask if I was ever going to come home. (In that absence), the Boys got married.
When did it change?
“I was on the golf course one day and I said to myself, ‘This is not my life. I wasn’t doin’ nothing.’ I was crying and trying to hide it, while playing golf with the ex owner of the 76er’s, and Nikki Taylor’s husband. That’s the first time my world stopped. It was like I was looking in the mirror, and all the dreams, and everything that I wanted when I was little just hit me.”
So lets back track a little. There had to be some circumstances that led to your feeling this way.
(Exhale)—“I was body guarding Nikki Taylor’s husband at the time. He ran into trouble with some made (mafia affiliated) people in New York, so I had to watch his family. I was also babysitting (guarding) his twins, so I got close to them. At this time I asked myself, ‘What am I doing here?’—I mean, I didn’t even like the guy, and there I was risking my life for him. That’s the importance of having the village first; decisions are made for you. That’s when it hit me that instead of being over there with people like that, I should be at home with my own family.”
(His face visibly lightens after recounting such drastic events)—“I went to Utah because my family moved up there, but even when I was with them, I felt lonely, like something was still missing; I was the only one without someone. All my life, I never took girls seriously—and if they argued with me, I would just laugh it off because I had walls up.”
(His eyes start to soften)—“With Halona, it was different. (Chuckles)—With her I started caring. Back then, when she frustrated me, I would get so mad, but it was hard because she didn’t know how I felt. I just wanted to say, ‘When you move your hair, my heart hurts.’”
So, do you have any regrets?
“A mission. I always wanted to go, but you know, with the word of wisdom problems”—(his voice drifts off).
What current projects are you working on?
“The Village Bash. But it’s hard in Laie because it’s a small town, and sometimes it can be small minded. Even with all the advances, people still want freebies. If we push the bar—any village can grow.”
What made you get back into school at BYU (Hawaii)?
“I’ve been working with kids since I was younger, for about twelve, thirteen years now, and for me, it’s hard to see people in harder positions than me. I want to help those that have no desire to find a better way—they’ve gotta believe. But it’s getting hard to do it all and school.”
What life lesson have you learned?
“That you’ve gotta work for everything, and work at everything—kids, friendships, (a) relationship with your spouse. Work is never ending, and with God, nothing is as it is, you’ve got to work at it.”
Do you have any deep fears?
(After a long thoughtful break)—No.
The microcosms of the night are beginning to emerge, and the sky is a crochet of splotchy hues. Wily seems oblivious to the time, as his eyes reflect unspoken memories.
How do you unwind after a crazy day?
“The ultimate way of unwinding for me is to play with my kids. I’ve always had a love for kids, and am grateful to have my own, but I wouldn’t treat them any differently than I would any one else’s kids.”
Tell me what words you live by:
And what words of wisdom can you offer to the younger generation?
“‘Be good to people. At the end of the day, just keep your heart good—and stay positive.’ I’ve noticed that when I’m not in the gospel, I’m negative.”
What’s your greatest triumph?
“My wife. And my kids.”
Any last words?
Wily is an anomaly—he’s done it all, yet manages to keep his privacy intact. Change has left a mark on his soul, but ever the opportunist, he uses it to carve out his niche in life. The man who is intent on making the most of his opportunities is too busy to bother about luck (Forbes).
|Reach Lisa J. Fehoko at LJFehoko@hotmail.com
|This article property of LaieBoyz.com. Copyright 2013 Laie Boyz Incorporated. All rights reserved.
|©2013 Laie Boyz Incorporated. All rights reserved.