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In Hawai'i we greet friends, loved ones and strangers with aloha, which means with love. Aloha is the key word to the universal spirit of real hospitality, which makes Hawai'i renowned as the world's center of understanding and fellowship.
Try meeting or leaving people with aloha. You'll be surprised by their reaction. I believe it and it is my creed.
Aloha to you.
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, 1890–1968
Land and Love
The spirit of these Islands comes from the people. People who are unselfish and radiate joy, they are full of the spirit of Hawai'i.
Monsignor Charles Kekumano
Kala loved the beach. He loved the warm sand, the flowing palms, and the sound of the waves breaking on the shore. He felt at home by the ocean, playing in the sand and in the waves for timeless hours, as ancient volcanoes held him in the shadows of their majesty.
When the boy turned eight years old, his mother decided that he was old enough to play on the beach by himself. She knew it was summer and it would be impossible to keep him away.
Having found a favorite place to play in the tide pools, Kala would go there early every morning. Soon he began to notice more details about this secluded area. He scampered among the large lava rocks. The more he played, the more he loved his special place in his world, and the better he understood it.
One day Kala heard several bulldozers laboring noisily a little over half a mile south of his play area. He knew that the workers would be building a hotel. He resented this intrusion into his special place.
After the construction began, an old man with a parched face full of countless wrinkles would walk by Kala every morning on his way to watch the workers, and then again every afternoon on his way home. He had a kind smile and eyes that seemed to see and notice everything. The boy felt especially good whenever he walked by. They had never spoken, for the old man had never stopped, but simply nodded as he passed.
One day Kala was so busy sculpting sand that he didn't notice the old man approaching. Suddenly a shadow stood over him.
The boy looked up. "Hello," said the lad. "My name is Kala."
"Yes, I know. I know your mother. They call me Ulananui."
"Why do you go to watch the workers every day?" asked the boy.
"I go to protect the land," said the old man. "Do you love the land?"
"Yes," said the boy.
"And the sky?"
"And the trees?"
"And the great waves?"
"And they love you, as well. Always remember that."
That evening Kala told his mother about his conversation with the old man.
"Oh, yes. That's the kind and gentle Ulananui."
"I like him," said Kala.
"Yes. He is one of the ancient ones, one of the wise ones," his mother explained.
After that Kala was always careful to watch for the old man.
Months passed. School started again. Kala's hours at his secret place became more precious. One day, as the boy was again sculpting the sand, the old man suddenly appeared and announced, "The hotel will soon be open."
"Yes," said Kala. "People will come."
"Do you know why the people will come?"
"For the waves and the sand?"
"Yes," replied the old man, "but also for the love. The real secret of life, my son, is love, and the people will come because they will feel the love in our waves and in our sand and our trees and our skies. They may not understand why they feel better after they have come, but they will participate in that special love."
"Is it because we have loved the waves, the sand, the trees and the sky?"
"Yes. We are the stewards of this place," said the old man. "The elements here need our companionship and our love and we need the love we receive from them. These forces of nature run deeply in our souls."
"I understand," said Kala, "but will they understand?"
"It is enough, my son, that they come for the love. We are the love that they seek just as we are this land and this sky."
From that moment, all of life looked suddenly larger, brighter and more clear to Kala. He now saw in this special place and in the world beyond it, a subtle radiance. It was a stream of light that would transcend all obstacles.
Steven E. Swerdfeger
I wear your love like lei through the summers and the winters.
Mary Kawena Pukui
It was my daughter's first birthday since her daddy and I had divorced. I wanted to make it special, both to show her that she was the greatest kid in the world and as proof—to both her and me—that we could make it on our own.
Ann was turning seven and I knew she longed for a special dress, so I took her to a popular clothing shop for kids at the Pearlridge Shopping Center. Money was tight since my divorce, so I browsed through the sale rack. I spotted a dress I thought she'd like—one that I could afford. Excitedly, I turned—and saw Ann stroking the soft, white collar of a two-piece outfit. She held the dress close to her small body as she gazed into the fulllength mirror. She whirled around, caught me staring and blurted, "Look, Mom!"
The outfit was lovely, with a bed of dainty, pale pink flowers strewn throughout the bodice and skirt. My fingers slid down the plastic thread that held the price tag. I opened my palm.
The cost was $35. I had only $15.
"It's closing time, Ma'am," the clerk said.
There wasn't time to explain why I couldn't purchase the dress of her choice, and I groped for the right words to say. "We'll come back another day," I managed to respond. The words sounded hollow and empty.
As we stepped from the lights of the shopping center, tiny fingers crept softly into mine until our hands clasped firmly. This was our secret way to say "I love you," when words would not come.
My mind wandered in the quiet night. How did I come to this place in time? I thought. I never imagined that one day I'd be a single parent faced with a situation like this. A slight tug on my hand brought my thoughts back to the parking lot. It was Ann's way of saying, "It's okay." We smiled and swung our clenched hands.
At that moment, I knew I had to find a way to get that dress.
And so, when my friend Muriel told me that the grand prize for the annual city lei contest was $100, I decided I was going to learn how to make a lei. I watched as Muriel expertly braided each fern and flower and knotted off the finished haku-style head lei. It was magnificent! The contest would be held in three weeks. Even though she warned me that professional lei-makers were regular entrants of the big event, I didn't care. I was determined to begin.
I knew that I couldn't fly to the Big Island to gather indigenous flowers and ferns. Nor could I afford to purchase costly flowers. I would have to find my own materials. So each day during my lunch hour, I scoured the neighborhood, plucking greens and flowers from the gardens of friends. I stored them in plastic bags and took them home. After Ann drifted off to sleep at night, I laid out my day's collection and began experimenting.
Day in and day out I searched and plucked, and night after night I wove and wound until my raw fingers cracked and bled. Finally, less than a day remained in which to create my entry. The fridge was filled with flowers and greens, but I hadn't a clue what to do.
By late afternoon, the whole idea seemed hopeless and far-fetched.
Discouraged, I went to pick up Ann from her after-school program. "Wait, I'm not finished yet!" she pleaded, halfway through a game.
As I sat next to the sandlot, I noticed something small and silvery protruding from the hibiscus hedge. Up close I saw that it was a small hibiscus bud. The tightly wound tip was covered with a fine, silvery fuzz. Then I noticed hundreds of buds scattered throughout the hedge, some large and deep mauve, while others were tiny with only a hint of pink. I picked a few and placed the buds side by side on my lap. Suddenly, I had an idea. I snapped assorted sizes from the branches before the game was over, then Ann and I headed home.
That night, after my daughter's bedtime story, I reached into the fridge, took out the cool buds and began winding. I started with the tiny pinpoint sizes and graduated to the full dark ones on the brink of blooming. A huge rosette, comprised of fuchsia mountain apple calyx, mottled hibiscus leaves, dark green leather ferns and fine silvery strips of protea leaves, was joined next to the largest of the swollen buds.
After hours of winding and twisting, the hat lei was complete! I set it to rest in the coolness of the fridge.
The next morning I rushed over to O'ahu's Kapi'olani Park, the site of the competition. At the entrants' table, I was asked to place my creation in a hollow banana stump. The judges peered in and muttered the strange sounding names of various materials used in the lei. They handed me a number and turned their attention to the next competitor.
Looking around, I noticed the richness and vibrancy of the other lei filled with extravagant anthuriums, regal white lilies, large perfect rose buds and powder blue hydrangeas. Embarrassed by my common hibiscus lei, I took one more look at it and left for work.
During my lunch hour I rushed back to the park, eager to see the results of the contest. I leaped from the car and ran into the lei display area.
My heart pounded as I ran searching for my lei. I scanned the rows, but couldn't find it.
What happened? I said to myself. It's not here. It probably fell apart!
Slowly I made my way back to the car, too ashamed to ask anyone. But as I reached the exit, I decided I couldn't leave without one last look.
This time I walked carefully past each lei. I veered around a group of people huddled around one of the entries. Pausing, I turned, squinted between the crowd of heads and there it was! I almost didn't recognize it perched on a light straw hat with a slight tilt to the brim. I stood immobilized. It was breathtaking! A large blue ribbon was tacked next to it with the words "Mayor's Grand Prize" boldly written on it.
Of course, you know the rest of the story. For the very first time since my divorce, I was able to buy a dress for my daughter. I was able to purchase the beautiful pale pink dress with my own winnings.
Ann looked as beautiful wearing it as I'd imagined. As she beamed at me, I knew for certain what she'd never doubted: With a lot of love and a lot of ingenuity, we were going to make it just fine.
Just as I Imagined It
Aloha is my religion. I practice it every day.
I often walk at Kailua Beach, a two-mile crescent of white sand lined with palm trees on the windward side of O'ahu. I find walking there a good way to exercise and to shake off the "blues." One December morning I set out to rid myself of a weeklong depression. With the holidays coming, I was facing Christmas without my daughters, who lived in Massachusetts. This year, none of us could afford the expensive plane fare to or from the islands.
When I reached the beach, I tucked my rubber slippers under a naupaka bush. In Hawaiian mythology, its white flowers symbolize love's longing. How appropriate, I thought wistfully. As water lapped at my bare feet and waves curled over and collapsed with small explosions, all my senses conspired to conjure up memories of my girls romping in the waves and dribbling sand spires at the water's edge. Maybe a beach walk was not a good idea after all. I looked down at my hands. Yesterday I'd noticed how the blue veins knotted their way under the papery skin. I thrust them into my pockets. Just then, I saw that the sand ahead was littered with shells, an uncommon sight here. Usually, the waves battered shells to bits on the offshore reefs. Some of the shells weren't even native to Hawaiian waters. Yet, here lay glossy cowries, curly whelks, spotted cones and abalones glistening like polished teal and silver bowls.
Amazed, I wondered where they'd come from. You could buy them in hotel shops or at the International Market Place on Kalakaua Avenue, but why were they here? More than curious, I wandered among them and picked up a whelk with a pale peach lip curling outward.
Suddenly, a voice rang out, "Oh, please, don't pick up the shells."
Looking up, I saw two teenagers, a boy and a girl, arm-in-arm on the top of the sandbank. The girl, in her beach wrap, said, "Please leave the shells. They're for my grandmother."
"Are you serious?" I asked, with some confusion.
She was. I replaced the shell and continued my walk. At the end of the beach, I turned and retraced my steps. Now I could see the sheer majesty of the Ko'olau Mountains. When I reached the same stretch of sand, the young people were gone. Instead, I saw a solitary, silver-haired woman with winter-white skin, wearing a blue pantsuit and closed-toe shoes. She stooped to pick up a shell and put it into the plastic bag in her other hand.
As I passed her, the woman spoke. "I think I've got all the pretty shells. Would you like to see them?" She held out the bag to me. "This beach is just as I imagined it. Shells and all. A dream come true, and at my age! Look at this one!" She pulled out a cowry with dappled brown edges.
"It's very beautiful," I agreed.
"Here, take it. I have so many. I should have left some for others," she said. Her frail, freckled hand trembled as she held out the shell.
"No, you keep it. I think these shells were waiting just for you." I smiled, hoping she could somehow tell that I, too, had found something rare and lovely on the beach that day. I walked home grateful for the love in the world. My depression was gone.
The Meal Plan: Waikiki 1960
Although it encompasses only one square mile of sea and sand, the sunny shores of Hawai'i's Waikiki Beach have defined paradise for generations of visitors. From the royal sport of surfing to the invention of the steel guitar, and the modern swimsuit, this small stretch of sand has had a far-reaching influence on American notions of paradise. In ancient times, the beach was used as a place of healing. Later on, famous people from Mark Twain to Hollywood movie stars visited this legendary spot to savor Hawaiian culture and the good life with a zeal that continues to be found in visitors today.
It was New Year's Eve 1959 when my college roommate and good buddy Peter invited me to fly with him to a party in New York. However, he had no intention of taking me there. Instead, he "shanghaied" me from Cleveland, Ohio—and many hours later I arrived in Honolulu wearing a tuxedo and a raincoat. The next morning, on the famous sands of Waikk Beach, I saw my first bikini. My idea of paradise had always been sand, surf and beautiful girls. This was it. Peter went back to the mainland. I never went home again.
Back in those days, bronzed Hawaiian beach boys ruled Waikk Beach. Their names were legendary. "Splash" Lyons. "Turkey" Love. "Panama Dave" Baptiste. "Ox" Keaulana. "Scooterboy" Kaopuiki. "Blue" Makua. "Chick" Daniels. "Steamboat" Mokuahi. We newcomers, malihini, were awestruck by their skill in the ocean—surfing, sailing, swimming with joyous expertise—but even more by their wit and irresistible charm. They captivated women of all ages, shapes, sizes and colors. Day and night, their slack key guitars, ukuleles and falsetto singing filled the air. The beach boys created an atmosphere of welcome, and everyone joined in. Tourists, locals and newcomers of all races partied together. I was amazed how quickly differences disappeared.
That summer I fell in love with surfing. I lived with five other surfers in a run-down cottage near the beach at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki. We were resourceful in those years. My good friend Chuckles, who had recently moved here from Santa Barbara, discovered that a cottage near ours was rented to three of the prettiest gals on the beach. We managed to meet these California beauties and, being fast thinkers, proposed a dining cooperative to solve the problem of breakfast and dinner for Chuckles and me. The solution was known as the "meal plan." Chuck and I each agreed to pay sixty dollars a month for everyone's food if the girls would do all the cooking and dishes. After our dawn patrol surf session and again in the evening, we would show up at their place in clean aloha shirts, ready to enjoy local delicacies like mahi mahi steamed with shoyu and cilantro, the company of pretty girls, some cheap wine and beer, and great humor all around.
Unfortunately, our hidden agenda of romance failed. Melinda was going with Lucky, a beach boy; Marlene was going with Herb, a catamaran captain; and Patti also had a Hawaiian boyfriend, a great surfer. Over time, Chuckles and I got to know their Hawaiian boyfriends, who turned out to be terrific guys— friendly, caring, generous, funny—and all built like Greek gods.
After a few months of hilarious meal-plan evenings, Patti came home with some very disturbing news. Her mother was coming to visit. Patti described her mother, Jean, as a good sport: healthy and outdoorsy, but "very proper." Unfortunately, Jean also had very definite ideas about what was best for her daughter, especially in the love and marriage department. She thought her daughter was wasting time in "laid back" Hawai'i. And "Mommy" wasn't going to be a good sport about those Hawaiian boyfriends.
Excerpted from Chicken Soup From The Soul Of Hawai'i by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Sharon Linnéa, Robin Stephens Rohr. Copyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.
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