Internet photo of March 2011 Tsunami damage.
For most of us the technical term of aloha means hello or good-bye. But in reality the term aloha represents a kind of spirit of life. When a person says aloha to you it represents their inner peace and their own willingness to share their love and affection. Aloha is about harmony. When a New York City cabby says hello to you, do you get that sense of aloha? Probably not. Sometimes, living in CT we feel about as far away from aloha peace as possible. To understand aloha, a trip to Hawaii helps! I have been fortunate to travel to Hawaii a number of times to watch Chris race the Ironman and see it aloha first-hand. But honestly, we got this same feeling when we lived in the Caribbean island of Saba. While I never once heard a person from Saba utter aloha, the aloha spirit was undeniable. I think that when you are surrounded on all sides by water, you are forced to feel an inner connection between nature and humanity. I even felt it when I was a lone sculler out in the pre-dawn hours rowing in a paper-thin shell with a simple set of oars. Water makes me feel vulnerable. Every rower spends a lifetime trying to establish a respectful relationship with the water. When water is friendly and calm, it invites us to jump in and frolic, but water also has a voracious nasty side that warns us to stay away when bothered. People that live the aloha spirit have an innate understanding of this connection because they have learned to live in harmony with the ocean. But as we have seen in the past few days, this spirit of aloha has been tested to the extreme degree in Japan and Hawaii. I see the destruction in the photos and find it hard to grapple with the fact that the ocean can unleash such anger. Perhaps, it is a warning to all of us that we need to wake up respect the natural world, because there is no question in my mind that mother nature is really in charge. As all of the twisted metal, floating cars and man-made crap flow back into the ocean, lets hope that this has been a reminder that we need to respect the earth that has been given to us. While japan grapples with this horrible disaster, I hope that they rebuild with a more harmonious relationship with nature in mind. Seeing the damage of the Kona pier is a small personal reminder that the tragedy in Japan is not so foreign, and that none of us are immune to the nature's wrath. May we learn treat our earth with the aloha spirit and hope that in return we get some aloha back.