As snow blankets much of the country from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine you can’t help but dream a bit about Hawaii and other tropical climates. Our President elect and his family have been enjoying some R & R in the land of Aloha, gaining strength and focus for the herculean tasks ahead. There is something healing and rejuvenating, not just about a vacation, but returning to one’s home turf, immersing oneself in salt water; having downtime. While everyone was focused on Obama’s buff torso, it seems like he was going to his fountain; recharging his batteries. An article in the New York Times entitled: Obama’s Zen State, Well, its Hawaiian got me thinking about what the Aloha Spirit is all about. My sister in law and her family lived in Hawaii for many years and would always talk about that special island attitude. Aloha is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. The laid back spirit which is often interpreted as ‘mellow’ or even lazy is actually quite a complex mindset and mode de vie. The Aloha Spirit elevates, empowers and ennobles its people. Interestingly, when I did a bit of research on the subject I learned:
* Aloha means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.
* Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.
* Aloha means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.
So Aloha is much more than a scented lei placed around one’s neck on a brief trip to Oahu. Although a vacation to one of the islands can be a treasured experience, visitors from the mainland tend to mock or ‘Disney-fy’ the Hawaiian heritage. When one thinks of Hawaii, beyond the beautiful beaches, surfing, ukuleles and hula, we often don’t go much deeper. Aloha is truly a lifestyle and world view; a way to interact with others and remain calm in a storm. Take a look at Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. This haunting rendition always stirs me in a way that makes me feel perhaps an inkling of Aloha. Let’s hope 2009 brings more aloha into all of our lives. Happy New Year.