Finding Aloha

Every year, my husband and I head to Hawaii for relaxation, rejuvenation and de-stressing.
Hawaii Island (aka the Big Island) is the perfect sanctuary for escape – hot weather, gorgeous beaches and fewer tourists than Maui or Oahu. We’re not resort people so we typically stay off the beaten track, sometimes off the grid, and as isolated as possible in order to nurture our psyches and re-establish karma.
I have always thought of it as finding our Aloha.
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu lays out the four cardinal virtues for living that are also the four virtues of Aloha:
1.       Reverence for all of life – treating all of God’s creatures with love and respect
2.       Natural sincerity – honesty, simplicity and faithfulness
3.       Gentleness – consideration for others and spiritual awareness
4.       Supportiveness – service and giving
Dr. Wayne Dyer (who lives in Maui) sums it up as follows: “These four cardinal virtues are a road map to the simple truth of the universe AND the purist definition of how to live your life by practicing Aloha. To practice Aloha, recall what Lao Tzu said: “These four virtues are not an external dogma, but rather a part of your original nature.””
To me, finding Aloha meant reconnecting with self and being back in that state of wholeness. Our Hawaiian trips over the past six years have always been able to bring me back to that state.
What I wasn’t considering was why and how I kept losing that Aloha feeling in between visits to the islands. I’ve been using these trips as a Band-Aid instead really having a look at what was diminishing my peace and oneness.
This year, it took almost fifteen days before I felt that Aloha feeling returning. Granted, it’s been a stressful year with my mom’s terminal illness BUT something else was corroding me from the inside out.
Interestingly, it was a random conversation with a young woman from Seattle that led me to finally see the light. We met on the moonlight manta ray swim in Kona a week ago. She’s a mom with three young children, and in Kona attending a conference with her husband.
Her:                How long have you been here?
Me:                 Two weeks – you?
Her:                Wow! We got here yesterday and will be leaving in two days. It’s our first trip to the islands.
Me:                 It’s our sixth – we have another week here.
Her:                Really?? What do you do that lets you have three weeks off?
Me:                 We actually get six weeks but split it up.
Her:                Are you retired? No, I can see you’re not, but holy crap.
My hubby:       We’re old and have been in our jobs a long time.
Her:                But still, wow!
Her:                We’ve been married seven years. How about you?
Me:                 Almost 30.
Her:                You don’t see that much anymore. You are so lucky to have each other! I hope that when we’ve been married 30 years, my husband still brings me here. Wow.
My husband and I looked at each other and the same bolt of lightning hit us at the same moment.
We – or at least I – had been taking so much for granted that I forgot to recognize and be grateful for our lives. Instead of living in the moment, I worry and overthink and fret about what is coming next. I’ve been missing parts of ALL four of the cardinal virtues. It’s no wonder I keep losing my Aloha.
In actual fact, every single thing I (we) need, we already have.
Good health, great jobs, awesome kids and their partners, supportive family and great friends, awesome benefits like health care, vacation and sick time, enough to eat, a comfortable warm home, every single material thing plus some and a community that offers us support, security, safety and enrichment.
The reason I keep losing my Aloha is complacency and by allowing trivial things to colour my focus and skew my perspective.
While Hawaii has its own version of Aloha that is embedded in its culture, ALL of us can have Aloha inside of us. It’s how we choose to embrace it and accept it that determines how brightly it shines, and if the light stays lit. I was dousing mine on a regular basis and every year it’s been harder to bring back the spark.
Aloha comes from within, nurtured and kept alive by the four cardinal virtues. It’s up to me to nurture and keep that flame going by living fully in the present moment, each and every minute of the day, keeping it simple, being loving, kind and giving, and grateful.
#alohalivesinme; #thankyouSeattlemom; #alohalostalohafound; #epiphanyontheocean

PS. To my husband - FYI - this doesn’t mean that we can give up going to Hawaii each year. What it does mean is that I can be Hawaii happy all year round – even without the tan!