The true meaning of aloha brings to mind the image of Pacific Islanders, nose to nose, looking into each other’s eyes and literally sharing breath, saying “ALO”; to front, to face, to present ;then saying “HA”; to breathe, to exhale. How intimate, how generous and kind to share breath upon greeting and upon departing.
Compare to the handshake – originally devised so that the man extending his hand is proving that he has no knife or sword in that hand and the other man reaches out his hand to show he has nothing up his sleeve. How jingoistic, how suspicious, how European.
And that saying, the one that the Jackson Five made into a song: “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch” means something entirely different in a land where apples do not grow. Bananas grow in bunches, and will co-rot. Stone fruit, gathered in the fall, squashed, boiled, pulled and canned, made into the compotes and sauces we will eat in winter’s bite has no place here. Here in the savage lands of paradise, you pick it and eat it. There will be more fruit tomorrow.
On this day, I vow to be less vulnerable. The suffering of Noble Dissenters rubs me raw and I cry at the stories of the use of force to disperse crowds, to eliminate another brother or sister, a perceived threat, guns everywhere, within reach of the trigger happy, and no amount of handshaking loosens their grip on their firearms.
The meaning of “taking a knee”, as an act of respect, an act of submission, contrasting with the one-armed Heil Hitler salute, contrasting with going down on both knees, a true catechism type of genuflection. And for those truly sacred personages that one greets by lying face down flat against the floor – prostration practiced by those approaching the sacred chieftains and chiefesses whose mana is undeniable, or before the Son of Heaven, an emperor, a demigod, and I wonder who in the world claims divinity still.
My humility is found in the presence of those who are Kind, Brilliant, Compassionate. I kneel for no one, sacred or profane. I cast a sacred circle with a wand, standing up, and call in the four corners with arms raised, and spin in the middle where the Tree of Knowledge awaits her humble petitioners. This worship, this gratitude for all that is beautiful, this is true to me – to human nature – to the changing of the seasons and the awe inspired by Ocean and Sky and here in Hawaii, the awe inspired by lava erupting, earth creating itself in an orgasm of destruction and rebirth.
The wind, gale force at times, a tropical breeze at others, whispers Aloha, and I kiss the sides of peoples’ faces in an approximation of rubbing noses, because these days, our breath carries the seeds of our destruction aloft.
By Paul DeLong
On November 27, 2022
Rich homage to the universally sacred as maniftested by the particularity of Hawai”i’s ponderous wonders. And not to mention the cheerful souls breathing Alo Ha
By Catherine Tripp
On November 27, 2022
Thanks, Paul, and yes, indeed I do love Hawai’i’s many ponderous wonders 😉