I’ve been thinking about something Carol Jean said to me at dinner last night. She said, I’m here for the Aloha.
It’s true that Hawaiian’s say Aloha all the time – every coming and going and sometimes in between. And they do so with absolute sincerity and authenticity – this is no gimmick to get you to return to spend more money in the gift shop. They say it, they breathe it, they live it. And studying their faces, i have come to know that there is a certain peace I see when they say Aloha. It’s a warmth and smile that makes you want to crawl right into their arms.
Aloha has many layers of meaning for Hawaiians, and its deepest meaning really transcends language. It is a way of being in the world, breathing in and joyfully sharing life. Feeling a union with nature. And you get that sense from Hawaiians – they spend all of their time outside, at the water, in the water, under a tree, appreciating their connection to the elements. They don’t appear to be impatient for tourists to go home, or impatient for anything for that matter (remember how i said no one speeds?). And every Kama’aina (native Hawaiian) seems genuinely calm and happy to see you.
Yesterday was such an incredible day for me – overwhelming really – an amazing swim, stunning drives up the coast, seeing what could be the perfect rental for SwimVacation, the conflict of wondering if it’s in the wrong location. I have been riding the high from those discoveries all day today. It occurred to me that in many ways my Sunday was not unlike that magic day on every SwimVacation when everything just clicks. The guests finally release the tension they carried with them to the islands. They finally yield to the support of water, to connections with new friends. Often this release and gelling comes after a bonding swim (in March 2012, it came after a cold swim and a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies). It happens on every trip, and apparently this scouting trip is no exception.
My first few days here were of course exciting and fun, but I had yet to shed anxieties about family at home being ok without me, or the miles and miles away I am, or the pressure to make every minute of this trip count for the future of SwimVacation. I was so frustrated after the swim we scratched at White Sands Beach on Friday. Yesterday was the day I finally quieted within myself, took a breath and fully opened myself to this experience. I actually began the day (in spite of the spider) with a few minutes of quiet and centering. I just quietly asked myself to be fully present throughout the day, and off I went. An amazing day unfolded. Whether anything really went better than it had the day before, or I was just more open to receiving the island’s offerings is a matter of perception, at least in my head. But for sure, I made a transition in the last day or so. I have been joyful in sharing life here. I slipped into the Aloha.
Today was much less eventful – my surf lesson was cancelled because there was no surf (pretty funny when two days ago I was drilled at the break trying to swim from the same beach! Oh Pele, how you toy with me…). I went for a run instead and savored the breathtaking view of the Pacific from my neighborhood at nearly 1000 feet. I chased a few leads and crossed a few rentals off my list. I parted ways with a property manager I’d been working with, and the break, while a little awkward, really does help clarify where we’re headed. In the afternoon I drove the length of Ali’i drive and discovered the place locals called The End of the World. It’s a deliciously tempting little cove. The only way into the water is to jump from a 40 ft lava cliff. Even more challenging is that the cliff is also the only way back out. I watched as young Hawaiians flinged themselves into the air to drop in, and climbed back out again and again. I was tempted, but left it for them. I went for a lazy swim, doing two laps around the inside of the Kahalu’u beach park reef. I swam with a turtle for nearly 10 minutes, and discovered a spotted moray eel who was very patient while I took a few snaps.
I did some business at home, ran a load of laundry and edited some pics. I cleaned up and went out to dinner solo. The subtle shift in my attitude led me to a much better dining experience than I had the other night. I went to Huggo’s on the Rocks and ate fantastic fish tacos to a robust sunset on the Pacific and a lovely performance by young Kama’aina students of Hula. Authentic and good. It was just right. Their teacher talked about the tradition of Aloha, how it lives and breathes through every movement of the dance, and the more I watched, the more I think you really can see it. The Kama’aina on the Big Island must be the warmest, easiest people on earth, or at least in the US of A.
And now, it seems, we’ll put a little Aloha in SwimVacation. What a great pairing. A joy in being in nature, being present for every stroke through the sea. It’s such a natural fit. What took us so long?
Tomorrow I’m heading out for an early morning swim at the pier. From there I’ll head back to Kahalu’u to meet Ocean (my surf instructor) so we can try again. I’ll be sharing my lesson with two keiki (Hawaiian for children, used regularly) which should be fun. From there I’ll have another busy day of meeting people and seeing rentals, culminating in a very special night swim that I’ll tell you about tomorrow.
For now, I’m heading to bed. I’m comfortably tired and centered and feeling like I’m exactly where I should be. Ahhhhloha.