Those of who you know me personally know that I moved back to the mainland in May of 2017 after spending two years living in Hawaii. I have had a lot of time to reflect upon my life in Hawaii, and I realize that Hawaii has taught me more lessons than I can count.
To say that Hawaii is different from the mainland is an understatement – at times it feels like an entirely different way of life. In an effort to share what Hawaii teaches those who seek her out, I have collaborated with some wonderful ladies to share a perspective beyond my own. These “lessons from Hawaii” are the things that resonate with each of us about life on the beautiful aina.
1. Ohana means family, but despite “family” being thousands of miles away, Ohana is everywhere.
In moving to Hawaii, Clay and I were eager and hopeful to make friends. To our surprise, our coworkers at Kailua Beach Adventures welcomed us with open arms, and making new friends could not have been any easier. In our first week in our new apartment, our new acquaintance and soon to be dear friend Laura offered us a bed, a bedside table, and took us sailing in our first week of working together. We soon were having dinner at our friends’ Marty and Katrena’s house and going out on the sailboat with our friends Wayne, Caroline, Karl, and Kevin. Despite our kin being thousands of miles away on the east coast, we did indeed have family in Hawaii.
2. While “aloha” is most commonly used as a simple greeting, it’s also a Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy.
Since living in Hawaii now for the past 4 years I have experienced all kinds of aloha. Before moving to Oahu I just figured it was what you say for hello and good bye. I quickly realized it’s way deeper than that. It’s a spirit that tends to take over you. It’s slowing down and realizing you’re not the only one. It’s living in the moment. The first time we ever truly experienced this was the a day at the sand bar with some people we had just meet. They went above and beyond to make that day wonderful and wanted nothing in return.
3. When giving directions to a place we don’t use north, south, east, and west, nor do we use left or right. Rather we say to go mauka (towards the mountains) or makai (towards the ocean). The land and the ocean guide us.
In fact, my decision to move to the Islands, to leave everything behind, start all over again, was directly related to the Pacific Ocean. Like a siren song, the ocean mesmerized me; like a tidal wave she uprooted and tossed me into the unknown. Like a tidal pool, she has bathed and nurtured me. Kai is the essence of our Hawaii life.
4. In Hawaii, kai means ocean. It is the essence of our Hawaii life, and it teaches resilience to those who listen.
Kai is the essence of our Hawaii life. Surrounding, sustaining, nurturing us. How terrified I used to be of the ocean until she quelled my panic by shifting fear to awe.
My first sighting of a humpback whale was dreamlike and left me elated for days. During a sunset hike along the ocean a peculiar sound of water breaking and a deep intake of breathe startled me. I turned around just in time to see a whale dive at the cliff’s edge! Feet securely planted on terra firma, I could only gape wide-eyed and slack-jawed, unsure whether what I had just witnessed was real. I quickly learned that mother whales migrate to the warm water surrounding Hawaii to calve and nurse their young.
More close encounters ensued, thrilling yet safe as I remained within sailboats and outrigger canoes. Every sighting glorious, whether a full breach, whale’s tale, or simply a spout! I always felt blessed to be there at that moment. Then last spring I joined the crew aboard Boundless and sailed inter-island to Kauai. “Whales at starboard bow…” someone yelled. We dropped the sails, turned on the tunes and popped champagne… Let the show begin!
But it wasn’t just a show. These crewmates of mine, quirky friends, world-wanderers and academic vagabonds, won’t be held back by fear of fathomless depths. Embracing adventure and thrilled by the unknown we plunged overboard to fully immerse ourselves in the whales’ song.
Fascinating, really, that these leviathans continue to raise their young in the same waters their ancestors were so gruesomely hunted. Is it simply instinct? Biological migration patterns? Or can it be that these magnificent mammals know what it means to truly forgive? Resilience is stronger than fear. It’s courageous, more forgiving and an inspiration to all.
How fortunate were we to witness, to partake in, this age old event?! Much like the decision to move to Hawaii, the moment I jumped overboard I overcame terror of the unknown and plunged into a new adventure. Kai’s currents, the currents of life, ebb and flow. Resilience is what the ocean, it’s gentle giants and my crewmates shared with me that day.
5. Hawaii is paradise, but it doesn’t have to be a dreamlike fantasy.
Most people think of Hawaii as paradise, and as paradise being a fantasy: often unattainable. But why not live in paradise and build yourself a life here so that it’s not just a fantasy? Prior to moving to Hawaii, I too, thought that life on an island paradise was intangible. But once you make the commitment to build this life, you realize that it is just as real and feasible as anything else.