The Aloha Spirit

29 Jan

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I am on vacation in Hawaii and since arriving here I have certainly felt something other than the bright sun shining.  I have felt an abnormal sense of friendliness and community.  Everyone says “Aloha” to you, people wave when you pass them on the road, the radio announcers say “make sure you are kind to others today” and on the holiday last week they said “enjoy this day – get outside and be sure to go visit with your neighbors”!  There are hitchhikers that people actually stop to pick up. Dogs run into the yards of neighbors and no one seems to mind. Obviously this is a vacation destination so locals are used to people from other places being here, but everyone we have met takes a really genuine interest in finding out more about us and where we are from.  I also have been shocked at this fact – only 2 people that we’ve met did not know where Nova Scotia is.  I mean this amazes me because Hawaiian’s are American after all. 

In the state of Hawaii there is a bylaw against light pollution as lights at night confuse many of the seabirds. Their migration paths get messed up as they think the lights are the sun/moon. We are staying in a very populated beach area on the island of Kauai, but once the sun goes down it is as if you are in the country.  Very dark. I have noticed a funny vehicle that buzzes around this area.  It looks something like a trolley car you would see at an amusement park, but this one has a grass skirt as a roof and a ‘free shuttle’ sign on this side.  The night before last we walked to dinner as we wanted to have some wine and therefore not drive.  As we were trotting down the very dark road on our way back home the trolley came along, beeped at us and pulled up.  “Aloha, do you need a ride home?”   We said “sure”!  So this retired guy runs this free shuttle all through this area.  He has music playing and his Cairn Terrier named Aussie sits with a great view in the front beside him.  He says that he goes by the “Aloha Spirit” meaning what you put out into the world you get back.  Of course his offering of a free ride results in a tip from most people he picks up.  What a great thing he is doing – cruises around in the warm air, playing music, meeting new people, doing a good deed, hanging with his dog and making some coin in return.  I love it.

I’ve done a little Aloha research and I love what I’ve found.  Aloha is the essence of relationships – each person is important to every other person for collective existence.  I heard about a town on Kauai that exists in this manner.  In days gone by those escaping development/Capitalism moved to this area and created a community of people who live off the land and maintain Hawaiian traditions.  It is one of the poorest areas on the island.  In the late 1800’s a rich scottish woman acquired an enormous plot of land (somewhere around 50,000 acres) from the King on the promise that the land would never be developed commercially.  Now, this land could make them millions and millions of dollars, but instead they are barely able to pay the taxes on the plot because they have stayed true to their promise to the community. Most of the land is a conservation area and a small portion has allowance for certain tourism helicopters to land at certain waterfalls for a fee – one of the ways they raise money for the taxes. I am sure it is bizarre and obscene to most but in many ways it is beautiful.  The movie the Descendants tells a story that I am sure involves influence from the history of the land and the Robinson family.

I think we all need to come here and let the “Aloha Spirit” hit us over the head and bring it back to wherever we call home. Not to think that we are all going to run a free shuttle or donate our land to conservation efforts, but we all can be a bit kinder, more patient, more considerate, more open, more generous, more charitable, more understanding and a bit more community minded.  A collective effort results in a big effect. 

The next time someone does something in traffic that annoys you – think ‘I have been that annoying person before’ and don’t blow your horn, give finger, or call them an idiot.  Invite your neighbors over or even shovel their driveway.  Say “Hello” to people you meet. Reach out to a friend that you’ve been ‘too busy’ to see.  Call not text someone. Volunteer. You get the picture…

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One Response to “The Aloha Spirit”

  1. Sarah January 29, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    nice story Em.

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