Friday, September 28, 2007
Affordable Paradise - Skip Thomsen
Aloha is alive and well!
There's a magical, special feeling in these Islands of Hawaii. Those of us who live here call it aloha. It's alive and well, and to some it's so powerful and pervasive that it soon becomes an essential part of life. To many people, this feeling is a huge part of what they're here for. Perhaps they're even here for healing or for a specific spiritual focus, but in any event it's the mystique and power of the Islands that brings them to this extraordinary destination in the first place, and in the end it is what keeps them here forever.
To others, these feelings seem not to exist. We've had friends from the mainland come to visit and notice nothing, while others feel it profoundly. We even had one friend say that she surely feels the ambiance of love and acceptance here but she thought it was some kind of tourist-trickery being played by the Visitor's Bureau! And she was serious!
The more obvious draw of this Island is its natural resources: the pristine beaches, the crystal clear ocean, the awesome and varied flora, and of course the spectacular volcano. A less obvious but no less important draw is the mana, or spiritual power. The Big Island is home and host to many spiritual events, sessions, celebrations, and workshops from many differing disciplines. The Zen Temple in Wood Valley hosts these kinds of events all year long, and others take place in less formal surroundings, like in some of the sacred and powerful places all over this Island or perhaps even on a quiet beach. The Magic is one of the big reasons why so many people are drawn here for their spiritual work. It's somehow so easy in The Islands.
Each of us sees "the Dream" differently. To some, it's being able to spend lots of time on beautiful white sand beaches and never again having to think about "going back home." To others, it's the sumptuous weather and never again having to burn anything to keep warm. Or it's the quiet, gracious, simple and unhurried lifestyle. And to others still, it's as simple as this: It feels good. It feels good to every one of our senses, psychological, physical and spiritual.
To us, it is all of these things. It is somehow so easy and natural to stay grounded here, and there is just "something in the air" that is a constant, gentle reminder that keeps us on our spiritual path. This is a simple life where friends matter more than timetables, where inner peace and aloha come easy.
It feels so good to us to be among these wonderful people of many cultures who all seem to be of one big, loving family. The color of your skin, the kind of car you drive, the size of your home--none of these things matter here. What's in your heart is all that matters.
This is a generalization, but we believe those who end up staying here are the people who Know in their Knowingness the minute they first breathe the sweet, sensuous air of the Islands that they have come home and that this is where they must be.
The Change to Island-Style
It's interesting to observe our new friends and neighbors as they fall into step with Island life. It's especially interesting to watch the women who came from a professional life in some big city. At first, they find it awkward to shed the all-important apparel they've become so used to and adapt to the comfortable attire of the Islands. It's not too long, though, before they find real pleasure in their new comfort of pareos and rubber slippers. Even the makeup that was an everyday routine starts to become less important.
Men, too, take a while to adapt. But pretty soon the rubber slippers and shorts feel natural and they can laugh at the clothes they used to wear to keep up with the styles in the city. And then they wonder why it took so long.
Another interesting observation is how most people simply slow down. Those who talk fast, move fast and come from life in the fast lane are the most dramatic to watch. From the frenetic pace they brought with them, they begin the beautiful and healthy process of slowing down every nuance of their lives. Speech slows down and becomes more focused, mannerisms become more graceful and at ease, attention to others becomes more deliberate and loving, and they begin, consciously or not, to live aloha.
In the Islands, and particularly in the rural areas, people always have time for friends, neighbors and even strangers. There's a popular pastime here called "talk story." You always have time to talk story. If you're ready to leave your home to go on an errand and a friend shows up, you stop what you're doing and talk story. You share a cup of coffee, tea or whatever, but you always have time. That's why sometimes appointments seem to have little meaning here. The bottom line is that people are more important than anything else.
Speaking of people, one of the things we love about living here is that everybody is a minority. There is no prejudice here; what your personal culture is doesn't matter. Again, it's what's inside that counts. This is especially true here on the Windward side of The Big Island, where the population is a wonderful mix of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, haole (Caucasian), various Island cultures and others, and the beautiful results of the mixes of all of them. There is an obvious respect for everyone's culture, and each practices it's own ways to whatever extent they wish. And for those who have heard stories of how "the locals all dislike haoles" and other exceptions to this notion, we'll discuss that in detail in Chapter 2.
The Hawaiian culture is alive and well here and is being preserved and nurtured. It's truly heartwarming to us every time we see another example of the energy that the young people here, especially the Hawaiian kids of all ages, put into the preservation of their culture. The Hawaiian culture is built upon love and acceptance, family and friends, the land and the ocean, and to a large extent, the Hula and music. These are the important things; everything else is secondary. There are lots of Hawaiian cultural events here, and we recommend attending as many as possible. It's good to continue to learn about the culture and the ways of the people who are our hosts here in these Islands, and to maintain the highest possible respect for this amazing place and its people.
The cultural events we speak of are those put on by the local folks. There are theater events, street parties, talks by Hawaiian elders, museums, musical events of all descriptions and even small Luaus and other informal gatherings where you can learn about local ways by observation and becoming involved. With a few exceptions, the so-called cultural productions by hotels and other tourist endeavors are not among our recommendations for really learning about Hawaiian ways or history.
A large part of the Hawaiian culture is based in the philosophy of giving back to the community. Those who live this philosophy would feel incomplete living their lives only for themselves, or even just for their own families. Family members give back to their families, and the family as a whole gives back to the community, and this, coming from the heart, is an important ingredient of the spirit of aloha. This is a philosophy not often found to be practiced in Mainland haole cultures and it is one of the differences not easily understood by the Hawaiians. Not surprisingly, the Island haoles who truly live lives of aloha are those who find themselves most at ease with--and accepted by--the locals.
The dream of living in these Islands has as many interpretations as there are dreamers, and no one interpretation is less real than any other to the one doing the dreaming. There are few places on Earth that cast this kind of spell on their guests. If you are one of the dreamers, take heart! If it is truly your desire, you can live that dream.
Author: Skip Thomsen, Hilo, Hawaii
Title: Affordable Paradise
http://www.affordablehawaiiliving.com (Book site and purchase site)