The Aloha Way


Before I moved to Hawaii I thought Aloha was just a word.  But once I moved here I began to realize it much more than that.  It’s an entire way of life.  It’s an outlook, an attitude and it’s in everything people here say and do. 

Coming from small town in New England where people are always in a rush to get to the next thing or “keep up with the Jones'” it was an adjustment.  But it’s something I hope to take away from the islands with me.  And I think that’s the idea.

People here help each other.  They do for others without be asked and without expecting anything in return.  People do this in other places too.  My friends and family on the mainland do it.  But here they do it every single day.  They give you a smile or a hug just because and they will go out of their way to make someone’s day. 

The overall pace here is slower.  People take more time for their families and friends.  People work to pay the bills and then they go home to what really matters.  They aren’t power-hungry and they don’t seek material things.  They put family on the top and it’s something I think some americans are losing.  Most people I know put family first and don’t take offense.  Like I said it’s a whole way of life that you have to immerse yourself in to understand. 

The culture here is rich and it’s fascinating.  I am an all american mutt and I can’t say I know all that much about any one of my ethnic origins.  But here in Hawaii even those that don’t have native blood experience the culture.  Everyone seems to respect their ancestors and the history.  Everyone seems to respect the land and cherish it.  I’ve come to respect it and I’m hungry for more of it every day!

Over the last couple weeks I have been listening to Hawaiian music.  I’m particularly fascinated with Hawaiian chant.  I was listening to Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu on the way home.  You would know him from the movie Lilo and Stitch and the song he did for that.  All of his chants are in Hawaiian and I don’t understand the words.  I pick out a word here or there that I understand.  But they feel powerful.  The rhythms are amazing and the words are entrancing.  You feel like you are dancing around a bon fire like in the old cowboys movies.  Then there is other music that’s in english and it’s more like Reggae.  But the words are more pidgin, broken english that is unique to Hawaii.  I understand the words to these and the messages.  Actually a few of the songs are pretty derogatory toward outsiders.  One song called “do you remember” talks about losing the culture and give the Aloha away and how outsiders took advantage of that.  And I’m sure in some ways they did take advantage.  But I don’t think anyone did this with mallace, they did it because they didn’t know any better. 

I can feel this place changing me.  I am learning to be still, to just sit and be.  It’s something I have never been able to do.  In the time, I reflect on life and it keeps me centered.  It all sounds very tai chi and all but it’s the best I can explain it.  So what I want to take away from Hawaii is the culture to tell others of the history, the Aloha mindset, and the ability to be still and bring myself back to center. 

I’m sure that some of my friends on the mainland are reading this thinking I’ve lost my mind.  But before I came here I would rush to get everything done and now I don’t.  I’ve learned to let the dishes wait or the floor or the laundry because family it more important.  And to me that’s been huge.  If we were still in NY I would probably stay home all day while the kids are in school.  But here I’m never home, because I’m out there experiencing the beauty and wonder of this place! 

So if your reading this on the mainland, I love you.  I have a new appreciation for family and a new understanding of the word.  Family is not just the people with whom you share DNA it’s all the people with which you share yourself. 

Sometimes it’s hard to be here in this wonderful place and see the Aloha everyone shares and not be able to give it away to those I care most about as they do.  They give it to me and I to them but they are only one piece of me.  I have a deeper appreciation of family and friends.  I know what it’s like to be far from them and wish they were closer. 

I now know what keeps people here and I think I will be tied to these islands long after I leave.  I will certainly be leaving a piece of my heart in Hawaii.  So come visit us so we can share our Aloha with you. Ok?

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