Hulopo'e Beach, Lana'i Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2012
Anyone who has known me for longer than a week knows that this (above) is my happy place. I am inextricably connected to this bay, this beach, this island. I first came to Lana'i more than 20 years ago because my dear friend, Alberta, was living there, building and setting up a movie theatre, The Lana'i Playhouse:
When I first came to the island, it took me a while to find the way of the place and the people. When you are new to Lana'i and not a guest at the resorts and you are there for a month or so, people might wonder who the blazes you are and how you fit into the Lana'i way of life. Not in a negative way - it's just a bit uncommon.
Anyway, back to the concept of the aloha spirit and the joy spectrum. Lana'i is my happy place, my spirit base - I go there to be with my Hawaiian ohana, to regroup, to recharge and to be surrounded with the aloha spirit in a place with people for whom I care deeply. The aloha spirit is described as "the joyful sharing of life energy in the present". Really, I cold just wrap this post here because that is where I want to exist on the joy spectrum! ...but as you can see, I'm still here typing away because I couldn't resist and I want to delve into this a bit more because I see way too much unhappiness and human discomfort on the daily.
I also want to acknowledge that my reference to Hawaii and the Hawaiian language and people reflects only my experience of the place, the people and the culture and the connection I feel through my time shared. If you would like to know about the heritage and culture of the people of Lana'i, then please visit, Lanai Culture and Heritage Centre for more information.
Joy. How do we integrate it into our every breath, our life's blood? Why is it not our top priority? I feel most well when I am joyful. Why do we allow those surrounding us to knock us from our joyful place with their 'stuff'?
I am a fairly joyful person at heart, though I find I can also be hurt easily. I am childlike in my joy and likewise in my hurt. I feel great joy waking up on a Saturday, knowing the only things on my agenda are a trip to the bookstore, stopping to talk story with friends and picking up local fresh food from the nearby farm stalls. Life is good!
People write songs about joy. Christians feature it in so many songs about the birth of Jesus: "Joy to the world", "Tidings of comfort and joy"...and we revel in the joy we see in a child's face. So what happens to us grown-ups? I know there are worries in life. I'm not immune to pain nor do I find myself skipping through the daisies when I am trying to problem-solve but, usually, when my heart is light, I'm so much more capable of decision-making and taking care of myself and others.
Looking at joy on a spectrum in all we do might help us. When we are in difficulty, whether we have fear of loss or if we are angry, if we can just step back to look at how much we have for which to be joyful, then I think we could keep that ire and sorrow from taking us over or from letting us become awash in the ire or sorrow of another. I'm not saying not to acknowledge the anger or sorrow of another with love and care; I am saying that if we climb into the abyss with them, then how are we going to be able to hold up a light to help guide them out?
Within our darkest hours there is light. I have crawled from the depths with the faintest remembrance of a light at the end of the tunnel, even when it could not be seen. I have watched people pass away in my arms and I remember this when I am upset about not getting something I want or when I am frustrated because I am late or if someone has made a thoughtless comment that I believe was intended to hurt me. The Spectrum: I am breathing. My belly is full. I am loved. I have a place to live. I have this day, this moment, in which I have been blessed to share some loving thoughts with you. Whoever you are, wherever you are, I am thinking of us all now, together, in lokahi (unity, harmony), in the spirit of aloha. We are one.
If you are unhappy or suffering, remember that there are many people who think this way, who are sending you love and joyful thoughts, those who know we are one and we are with you now. If you can find it in yourself, step outside and look for someone on the street who seems sad or alone too and share your beautiful smile with them. That gesture will change the world - the world in which we all live, together. I know this is true. An act of love, kindness, joy will ripple on forever, throughout time and space, for we are all energy and there will always be enough love (energy) for everyone to share. I have been both on the giving and receiving end of one of those timely smiles and I can attest to its power. Change We Must and change can come with a simple act of joy or love.
With every wish for a full and happy life to each of you.
-Gillian Cornwall, c. May 25, 2014
Me, on Lana'i - December 2012
with a lei given to me by one of my Hawaiian ohana, Auntie Irene
in the true perfection of the aloha spirit.
Aloha Spirit: http://www.alohainternational.org/html/aspirit1.html
Lana'i Culture and Heritage Center: http://www.lanaichc.org/
Change we Must by Nana Veary: http://www.amazon.com/Change-We-Must-Spiritual-Journey/dp/0965154629
Papa Ola Lokahi: http://www.papaolalokahi.org/