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  • Susan Welsh


Hawaii is a paradise of azure and turquoise blues juxtaposed against deep majestic jade and jungle greens. All this rich, vibrant color floats upwards to a sky so blue and deep you can't resist the call to be a part of the "Aloha Spirit".

"Aloha" means more than "hello" and "goodbye". In the Hawaiian culture "aloha" translates to a philosophy, a way of life; "The Aloha Spirit" is the concept of living life with love, empathy, and compassion as driving forces. The etymology of the word is derived from either Polynesian or Maori and translates roughly this way: "alo" meaning to share, "ohs" meaning to show friendship, and "hā" meaning "breath".

The "Aloha Spirit" is so deeply entrenched in the cultural framework of Hawaii, in fact, there is an actual Aloha Spirit Law in the Hawaii State constitution that passed in 1986 and outlines the essence of conduct in accordance with the law:

"Akahai"- means kindness to be expressed with tenderness

"Lōkahi"- means unity, to be expressed with harmony

"Olu'olu" means agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness

"Ha'aha'a" means humility, to be expressed with modesty

"Ahonui" means patience, to be expressed with perseverance

Embodying this spirit is, of course, much easier to do when you're there--where the landscape, seascape and lushness pervade your senses. Something reaches into the soul and seeps into your consciousness-- a mist of ethereal beauty enveloping you, filling your field of vision at every turn. The fragrance of the gardenia and plumeria and pikake, being greeted like royalty, gorgeous purple leis bestowed upon your neck and expressions of gratitude and grace unlike anything seen in the United States outside of a Four Seasons Hotel. . .

When the mercury reads a steady 80 and tradewinds blow gently you're beholden to "be happy". In a land where rainbows make daily appearances and a riot of colors appear before your eyes in the form of animal, vegetable, and mineral-- a place so magical that, upon arriving back home, I told friends I would not have been surprised to see unicorns.

From surfing and Shaka to Koloa Rum and Kona Coffee Glazed macadamia nuts Hawaii takes ahold of you and never really lets go. You'll long for your return and you'll always leave a little bit of your heart there. I have multitudes of reasons to return and Instagram keeps hitting me up with reminders like Millenial Pink Pineapples.

Most importantly, though, Hawaii is a paradise because of it's long-standing tradition of live-and- let- live attitude, love, and social justice. There's an excellent piece in the NYT Opinion page that sums it all up. Read it and you'll have one more reason to understand why the 50th gets my vote as one hell of a great place to be in Aloha body and Aloha Spirit!


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