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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Meaning of Aloha

March 8, 2010

Life is sometimes hard.  Really hard.  There is, sometimes, the great need for escapism.  To get away from all that hectic pace and the tyranny of the urgent.  To just leave all your cares behind. Through the generosity of an amazing soul named Sage (how fitting), we had the opportunity to not only do that, but to meet people that I know we will call friends for the rest of our lives.  It goes without saying that we loved our Carnival getaway. We acknowledge with gratitude the hardworking staff and crew of the beautiful Paradise. But I would like to take this opportunity to say something about this little rag-tag "family" that gathered together, from all walks of life, from places far and near, and found that love is not just a noun, it is a verb...it is a DO word.

In Hawai'i, 'ohana is more than just a word for family. It is the life which revolves around the extended family and the clan. It is a group of both closely and distantly related people, and sometimes people who are not related by blood at all, who share nearly everything: land, food, children, status, finances, and most importantly; the Spirit of Aloha.

What I have learned here, on this little thread of cruisers is that we come from so many different walks of life. I think that people assume that if you cruise, you have money. As we know, this couldn't be further from the truth for so many of us. Despite the fact that we are a melting pot of different personalities, we have found a commonality here on the forum, sometimes without ever having the benefit of seeing one another face to face. That common bond, I believe, comes from tender hearts. Isn't it funny that we have family members who we sometimes cannot stand and choose not to associate with, and yet here, we meet people that we know in the depths of our soul, we will be lifelong friends with, just from the simple beginning of words on a page. Then, when you have the great honor to actually meet some of those people in 3-D, you find that your heart wasn't wrong. THAT is what Charlie and I experienced this past week on the Paradise.

I cannot express to you in words (even though I fancy myself a bit of a wordsmith), the great spirit of Aloha we felt from the minute we shared our first hugs with Chris, Max, Jen, Linda, Chuck, Marlene, Julie, and an amazingly kindred and generous soul named Sage. Though only months ago we did not know each other, I can tell you that I felt from the very beginning that we would be lifelong friends. Chris; Charlie could not stop commenting on what a gentle, sweet spirit with a winning smile you are. Quiet and pensive, but a warmth that shines through. Max and Jen, it was an honor and privilege to celebrate your anniversary with you. Jen, you are as sweet as the day is long and it is no wonder to us why your darling husband adores you. And vice-versa! Linda...you are a marvel! I was constantly taken aback by your quick as a whip wit. You are SO funny. You and Chuck are quite the team (my Chuck and your Chuck are dangerous together!). I swear, I heard constant rimshots wherever you two were! Oh, and lady, you are BEAUTIFUL and as much as I adore the picture of Ruffael, I think it's time you put a picture up of your lovely face. Julie; I wish that we could have spent a bit more time together, but from what I've seen, you are an amazingly hardworking young woman who deserves much more "YOU" time! You are adorable, sweet, and I look forward, with great delight, to more fun times together. I'm so glad we had the opportunity to meet and it's just one more thing that I thank Sage for.

Marlene...I think that adorable little boy at the table next to it had it right. He knew from the get-go that you were someone that he could love, and trust, and give his affection to. You made this cruise an "event". You are a bright and shining star with an effervescent and winning personality. I can honestly say that there is never a dull moment where there is Marlene. I would sail with you anywhere, or nowhere, just to be in your presence. Hugs from afar dear lady. And thank you for such a great ride. Charlie and I still have side pains from all the laughter! Love you massively

And now, dear Sage...I don't even know what to say. Chris said it very well when she said that you wanted to hear nothing about what you had done, but only that we had a good time, forgot the troubled waters of our worlds for a few days, and shared some laughs with wonderful new friends. The true meaning of Aloha is just this; a generosity of spirit, of heart, of soul. To share with those who could use a smile, a friend, whatever it is; and never expecting a return. You do this because it is in you and it brings you joy to share. Whatever you put into the universe comes back to you tenfold, and yet, you do not ask; "What's in it for me?" I learned from my kupuna (elders) that this, above all, is where Aloha lives. And as I said to you that last night together, "Lady, you do Aloha well."

This is 'ohana. This is family. These people here on this forum, who have a common bond, an undeniable love for the ocean, Carnival, and the kind of people who gather, for not just fun, but in the great hope of continuing friendships with kindred souls. Who are kind and generous in spirit. Who share their knowledge, their love, their time. The gift of Aloha is the giving of self. You, my friends here are the meaning of Aloha. We may not talk to each other often, but we will always treasure your presence in our lives.  Charlie and I are humbly grateful that you share that aloha with us, in person for a short time on a ship called Paradise, but forever in our lives.

Malama Pono (with care and gratitude), Pua (and Charlie)