Monday, February 22, 2010

Hawaiian Beauty - Thoughts of Aloha

The Aloha State... ahhhhhhh... No, I'm not in Hawai'i. Well, not until I fall asleep. I'd like to think it is my second home. Wait, if California is my first home, and I live in DC, then... and Lima treats me pretty well... Okay, Hawai'i will always be "a home away from home". It's arguably our most beautiful state in the union. Duh. I lived there for a time way back when, so I guess you could say that's yet something else I have in common with the president... that and I'm a mixed-race American, am super-awesome at basketball, and I too was born in Kenya (wait, I think I fudged on the last two). Just kidding, I'm no conspiracy theorist (of course if I was, I wouldn't tell you). Where was I? Oh, yes, Hawai'i! Well it's been snowy here in DC, so I'm going to a happy place and was inspired of this archipelago way out in the Pacific today as I drank my pineapple juice with dinner. What's important to remember about the Hawaiian Islands is that it is not only another state - it's a state of mind. "Yeah, I on Hawai'i Time, brah!" Imagine a place where the ocean is not only always nearby, but a part of your life. You can smell the ocean; you can feel it. Nature is culture. So is food. So is family, or "ohana" in Hawaiian. The hula is not only a dance, but an art form of storytelling. Leis are not only intricate necklaces of living floral art, but a symbol of beauty, welcome, congratulations, and love. 

I will not pretend to wrap up the majesty of this place in one simple blog entry; that would be foolish. I would just like to share a little aloha. In my experiences, Hawaiians have been very giving for those who would truly care to share in the culture of Hawai'i. I'd like to think aloha, albeit special and culturally unique, should not be confined to the islands in the Pacific. We have a lot of worries, issues, and challenges on the mainland. However, just as Hawai'i is American, I propose we Americans allow ourselves to find a little aloha in our lives over here. Make sure you take some time to just take your time. Share a meal. Appreciate something beautiful. Feel the sunlight on your face. Give someone flowers. Listen to some nice music. "Talk story." Perhaps, I'm not doing this place justice, but I thought I'd give it a shot. 


Monday, February 15, 2010

Day O' Love

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. Many people hate Valentine's Day, or so they say. I have heard plans of girlfriends getting together, seemingly to the exclusivity of men. It seemed an act of group consolation - a day to get drunk and hate men (and this day) together. I don't really have a male version of the event, because we really don't talk about such things. Nonetheless, it is a holiday that lovers love, and singles tend to abhor. 

Then there's me... Yes, I am single. No, I don't hate this day. No, I don't dismiss it either. I generally enjoy holidays (except Columbus Day) because they either celebrate life or they hold some sort of special significance about why we are here. I like days that are special. Life gives you enough days that are forgettable. I started my day doing a small favor for a friend I had known for about 36 hours. Afterwards, (for some reason, no one wants to serve brunch at 4:30 in the afternoon) I settled for a great bloody mary and some chips between services at Tabard Inn. After wandering the snowy sidewalks and braving the winter chill for a while, I stopped into work to say hello to some friendly faces. However, they were very busy, and I discovered my presence there was not entirely productive. On the way out of the restaurant, one of our hosts even said, "What are YOU doing here?" (I suspect she may be one of those who hates Valentine's Day.) Anyway, I had a fantastic dinner up the street at Proof. I barely knew my bartender, which is to say I knew her name and that she knows her wines very well, but there was an odd comfort that she was taking care of me for that hour or so. Then, I went home at a very reasonable hour. 

Lying in bed, I thought about my day and what it meant. I wasn't bitter or joyful. I wasn't content either. What do all these people in our lives mean? People act and speak to us all the time, whether a best friend, a pastor, a stranger, or a person on television. Thanks to the internet, I am in touch with hundreds of people with whom I would have otherwise been disconnected... or never met! What do people mean to life? Picture life with literally no other people, and life is not only drab, but bleak. I instantly think of the Twilight Zone episode with that exact premise - the man who loves only books finds more than enough to last a lifetime, but then he accidentally steps on and crushes his eyeglasses. 

People not only influence us, but help determine the course of human events. Sometimes it's a whisper; sometimes it's a speech; sometimes it's a smile. People add value. We determine our own value, but those around us help determine the value of life. I started the day with a Bible passage, and now as I go to sleep, it makes even more sense: 

"Dear friends, if God loved us that much, we also should love each other. No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is made perfect in us." 
(1 John 4:11-12) 

Yes, there is a lot of noise in life, but sometimes if you listen, appreciate, and give back, I think we find divinity, and yes - love. So, on this day of love and lovers, I want to thank everyone who has touched my life and made it... well... lovely.