Hi all! I was able to recover some old files on my dead Mac and I was so happy that I could salvage this post. I posted this on an old blog of mine that’s now deleated but I still feel that the content is still inspiring and relevent. Enjoy!
This past summer I had many new experiences and learned a lot about life in general, especially when it comes to the importance of self and purpose. Although I went on many mini-vacations, my most inspirational trip was a 10-long stay in Oahu, Hawaii.
The moment our plane descended below the clouds to land in Honolulu, I was awe-struck. The turquoise water was clean and untouched by pollution, just like I had seen in pictures. The lush, green jungles stretched on for miles, creating a soft blanket for the rigged mountains. My eyes, and the eyes of my sister, dazzled with pure wonder as we scanned the scenic landscape. We had entered a beautiful, calming void where our minds were at ease. We were thinking about nothing and simply appreciating the features that lay before us. I was eloped into the “spirit of aloha” before I even touched land.
The word Aloha is more than just a way to say hello and goodbye on the islands, it is a way of life. It means to embrace your neighbor, be humble, live in the moment, and enjoy life’s natural simplicities.
These moments of bliss, or “aloha spirit”, came often during my stay. I felt them while floating out in the waves, drunk on the warmth of the sun. I would look over onto the mountains and feel a wave of tranquility hit me as my mind turned to focus on the sensations I was feeling. The water felt refreshing on my warmed skin and the sounds of the beach harmoniously filled my ears. The waves became my cradle and my eyelids turned heavy as I took a deep, satisfied breaths.
The moments of serenity exceed well beyond the shoreline. I felt them sitting poolside, gazing up the lengths of palm trees as the trade winds lightly grazed the leaves, allowing slivers of light to dance through.
I felt the spirit every time we drove along the outskirts of the island to the North Shore or along the eastern jungles where the land is raw and uncut. These places truly create a deeply-rooted, powerful Hawaiian aesthetic. I remember quite a few moments where I was standing on a staggering cliff overlooking the vast, turquoise void and awing over the fact that 40 million miles of water were surrounding us. If you swam straight, assuming you wouldn’t die from starvation or dehydration, it would take you months, maybe even years to reach any other point of land.
It was a wonderful and natural high. I was truly experiencing living in the moment, a type of living I haven’t felt in a very long time. Once I returned home, I remember crawling into bed and instantly feeling a wave of anxiety. My mind began to race as I thought of all of the things I needed to accomplish. I knew that my constant fear of not being successful was something I wanted to shed forever – I wanted permanent bliss.
We all get caught up in everyday life. There’s school, work, relationships, and countless other things that consume our minds. 9 times out of 10, we are thinking about something that happened in the past or possibly happen in the future. In the words of Lao Tzu,
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
Hawaii taught me to take a moment from my busy schedule and anxieties to appreciate the small things – to really feel the moment as it is. To take each day as it comes, enjoy the journey, do what you love, and build good karma for yourself. Every day we wake up there is an opportunity to take a step to a higher place of existence.
I think I often get so caught up in “making something” of myself that I forget to live. You don’t have to be the next CEO of a major company to give your life meaning. I am still very unsure of what I want to do, but I know that as long as I continue to take the steps I am taking now, I will end up somewhere good. Living in the spirit of aloha is the greatest thing I will take away from my travels this past summer and I plan to implement it more into my everyday life.
The Quick Vacation Guide:
Oahu came with all of the lavish things you would expect from a tropical island – vivid flowers and fruits, romantic luaus, gourmet seafood, white sand, cozy resort rooms, high-end shopping, and of course, perfect weather. Hawaii is a great vacation spot because of its drastic diversity in adventure options and/or relaxation methods. You can get a wild, organic experience by going on hikes, snorkeling, or trying a surfing class. On the other hand, you can take time to chill out and reflect by simply lounging on the beach, exploring the island cuisine, or treating yourself to a massage. Below, I listed some of my favorite things I did while in Oahu.
Going for a run in downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach
When I was in Hawaii, I did not feel tempted to over-indulge in processed foods, Instead, I actually felt motivated to work out and eat healthy. Running is a great way to explore a new place and with all of the healthy fruit and seafood options I was easily able to stay energized and hydrated. Plus, I never felt odd for running downtown or on the beach because tons of other people were doing the same thing!
Exploring the North Shore
I seriously loved the North Shore. Even though Waikiki Beach was a blast, it certainly had a heavy tourist vibe. The North Shore was a much more organic experience and was less crowded. I ate the super garlic-y shrimp (a positive ingredient in my book) at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, snorkeled with the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (yes, that’s a real fish) at Sharks Cove, checked out the local surf shops, and relaxed on the Banzai Pipeline. If you go, don’t forget to make a stop at Matsumoto’s Shaved Iced for the best ice cream/shaved ice combination of your life.
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
I love farmers markets and local craft fairs; and this massive one goes all the way around a football stadium! There were hundreds of booths filled with local treats, exotic fruits, handmade goods, and small trinkets to take home. Just be vigilant because one vendor did try to scam us!
Go for a Sunday Drive
One of my favorite parts of the trip was simply driving around with no plan. Driving around the outskirts of the island only takes a couple of hours, but with stopping for pictures and exploring, we ended up making a whole day out of it. There are dozens of beautiful overlooks, massive pineapple fields, beaches for swimming, and bites to eat along the way –we did this type of exploring for several days because there was so much to see!