Back in 2012 shortly after Norman and I moved to the island, we were told that “transplants” like ourselves would either thrive here or be rejected by the island, and that usually it took people about 2 years to figure it out. In 2015 we found ourselves packing up to leave for a lot of reasons, yet when we tell the story now, we both say that neither of us really wanted to leave. It’s not that the island had rejected us, but it hadn’t felt like we were thriving either.
Our taxi driver had arrived and we moved our suitcases into the hall to prepare to load them into the elevator. As we went to push the elevator button, the fire alarm in the building went off, seizing the elevator and leaving the staircase our only option for exit. Luckily, there wasn’t actually a fire, but who knows why the alarm suddenly went off?? Our taxi driver was sympathetic to our story and assured us he knew the fastest way to the airport from our condo.
No sooner had he reassured us then we came upon a police blockade on a main road leaving us no option but to find an alternate route. The final showdown was a highway lane closure truck in front of us preparing to close the lane as we attempted to merge onto the highway. Our taxi driver sensed our nerves at that point and raced in front of it. I don’t know that Norman or I had ever experienced a direct feeling of the island rejecting us.. but that day we both clearly felt that the island seemed to reject our decision to leave.
We only lasted a year off the island and then upon our return it’s felt like the metaphorical arms of the island have stretched wider to welcome us back and hug us tighter.
Here, I am home.
In life, we all experience coincidences and chance happenings that turn into memories forever laced with a unique kind of gravity. They have the power to help us become more in touch with the world of subtle energy. Practicing a form of art is a great opportunity to explore such subtleties. Since colors evoke feelings and the position or posture of something can be interpreted much like body-language, the reverse is something we can experience and experiment with as well. We can look at the body-language of something and translate it with the movement of color, and best of all, the process of doing this doesn’t have to be premeditated, it can just come upon us like a spontaneous sense of meaningfulness.
On New Year’s day, Norman and I spent time in Waikiki which is where I bumped into what looked like an orchid chandelier flower. On many occasions I find myself speechless and extremely attracted to a lot of the nature here, and perhaps because I’m a “transplant” myself, the absence of familiarity accentuates nature’s ability to leave a strong impression on me.
I spent a couple days painting the chandelier flower, and then following its completion, the empty space in the composition begged for a word or short phrase. For the rest of the month I worked on other projects and looked at it from time to time waiting for inspiration. Today, it finally came.
In 1986 Hawaii created the “Aloha Spirit law.” Aloha Spirit is defined as a person’s mind and heart acting in unison, leading each person to the self. The law elaborates on how aloha is a kind of harmony that is important in all life interactions and that we must think and send good feelings to others for the good of our collective existence. The word aloha is not just a salutation, but means to hear what is not said, see what cannot be seen, and know the unknowable.*
Without knowing a word to describe a feeling, how do we understand what we feel or probe it? Aloha is a word that illustrates a kind of timeless sentiment that we all carry with us. Many things live as an unspoken, unseen subtlety. These things are not easily understood, yet we cannot deny their impact as they have the power to impart meaningfulness to our lives. Thus, when we discover what is personally meaningful to us, it is an acknowledgment of the union of our actions, mind, and spirit. In other words, that inner harmony is what it means to live aloha.
Living aloha is not a location or culture-specific ideology. It is an evolved sentiment of holistic compassion that is extremely relevant to us all today. It is the Golden Rule, self-realization, harmony with nature and all that is numinous.
I hope that this deeper meaning of living aloha reaches people, even if it is called something else. And I hope that people are not satisfied in merely knowing of its meaning, but reconnect with that inner universal unspoken sentiment we all carry-the one that makes us want to wake up and shed the repressive to make space in order to see anew.