As a writer, it is always an interesting challenge to learn the literal meaning of the words chosen to express a circumstance. The Hawaiian word aloha is used in many ways, but the literal translation is incredibly spiritual. My friend Alex Pua’a, a Hawaiian of great knowledge of the island culture, explained that the literal meaning is “be in the breath of life”.
When you consider the literal meaning of the word, the translation into English terms easily can become hello, goodbye, or I love you. But there is another facet to aloha, the spirit of aloha. This is the good will of the heart, the sharing of food, the sharing of well being, the sharing of human kindness.
As I have written previously, I am departing my home in the islands of aloha and returning to the mainland. This parting, this saying aloha, is a happy and sad passing from one phase of my life into the next. The people of Maui opened their arms and their hearts to me, sharing aloha from the moment I set foot on their shore. I will miss them, but at heart I am a traveler, an explorer, one who searches for what lies over the next hill or around the next turn. A lifetime spent here would not make it possible to learn all there is to know about this unique archipelago, for like all places, it changes each day. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
My next stop is Reno, Nevada, where a long and storied history lies waiting for me to discover. While I gather my belongings and pack them into boxes, I treasure the memories of each item, warmed by the provenance of where each began and how it came to me. My grandfather’s duck decoys, hand carved, refinished by my father, passed to me. My great grandmother’s sugar bowl with a ring of spoons from my mother’s sterling silver. Paintings and drawings done by Gale, the love who helped me come to Maui and whose ashes are scattered here. The redwood burl bowls created by my grandfather. The original sculpture created by my friend Pat McGowan, the pottery of my buddy Jolyon Hofsted. The gifts of dragons from Kathy, who filled my heart with joy and whose ashes are scattered upon the roads at Lahaina.
My journey continues, the final destination being the same as awaits us all, but while I am still able to travel, I have once again set my feet upon the path to the future. I can’t wait to see what awaits me over the next hill, or around the turn.