I was feeling super dreamy while in Maui for my birthday, for obvious reasons. Being surprised with a trip to a tropical island, by the love of my life, is dream-worthy. No doubt.
So when I was there, I floated away in thought and wondered what the Hawaiian word for “love” is. Because, I can’t even be on a surprise vacation and not think of words. Google search: It’s “Aloha.”
And maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I always thought that meant “Hello.” And it does. But it also means love.
So what, Lisa. Right? Okay. So it means two things. Big deal. I know. Whatever. English has a lot of words like that.
But does this aloha-double-meaning set the tone for something bigger, I wonder? Maybe. It’s possible.
Consider that every time you walk into a store, arrive somewhere, start a conversation, or greet someone – even a stranger – the first word you share means both “hello” and “love.” Also, you’re in Hawaii, and few people are stressed while visiting a tropical, super romantic island. If you are, it’s because you’re either attending a funeral, part of a real-life action adventure drama and you need to find the elusive plutonium before the bad guys, or your phone froze and won’t download the apps that help you calm down.
My point is, few stressors are insurmountable when in Hawaii. Lost luggage? Wear a sarong for, like, the whole trip. Feeling ugly? Put a flower in your hair. Scared of lava? Have a Mai Tai. It’s tough to stress there, so the whole “aloha” thing just kind of flows and adds to the laid back vibe. It goes hand in hand.
But what if every other day of your life borrowed from that? What if, at the risk of sounding like John Lennon here, we entered interactions with love? Like, every interaction. I’m not suggesting we start saying “Love” instead of “Hello,” but what if the feeling was there? If Hawaiians can do it…
What would “Aloha” do to our political debates? There’s no way it couldn’t diffuse them – measurably. What would it do to our ability to understand or at the very least empathize with people who are different from us? How would we see the world, knowing our greetings and our interactions are infused with this warm emotion?
That would require actually having interactions, I suppose, right? Because right now, it seems vintage, in-person interactions are becoming an endangered art. It’s part of why I like hiking and exploring so much – which sounds counterintuitive, because exploring generally means getting away from people – but the interactions you have while exploring are real.
The “Good mornings” on the trails. The “You’re almost there…” to people as you head out and they head in. The “Great jobs!” we hear about the kids. The excitement you see and feel from people who are venturing into where we just came from, hearing from us what they’ll see and knowing that they’re closer to it with every step.
It’s a departure from the ugliness and strange lack of authenticity that can fester on social media and the absent I’ll-walk-by-you-and-you-walk-by-me-without-acknowleding-eachother thing people do in hallways (which is super weird and more uncomfortable than actually saying “hello”).
So, while I don’t think I’ll start saying “Aloha” unless I’m back in Hawaii, because I’m weird enough on my own without speaking a language that isn’t mine, I am holding onto its meaning. And its feel. Its unique energy.
It’s not a slow energy, as I think it is sometimes identified. It’s just an easy one. And, apparently a loving one. Because it should just be that easy.