Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville dragged me from the depths of slumber. “Why is there music at five am?” I wondered groggily. Finally realizing that I was hearing a ringtone, I fumbled for my cell phone on the bedside table.
“Big earthquake in Chile,” my husband blurted in my ear. “Sue Nonny.”
“Sue who?” I asked, scanning my mental files to figure out who we knew traveling to or living in Chile.
“Tsunami!” my husband repeated. “Heading to Hawai`i. Get to high ground.”
Lei Venus and I were attending E Pili Kakou, an annual hula conference on our neighbor island of Kaua`i. We look forward to attending nearly every year for girlfriend time, rekindling our joy in the dance, and new adventures.
This year, Mom Nature saw to it that the emphasis was on adventure with a capital A.
A note had been slipped under our door by the Kaua`i Beach Hotel management. Basically, it instructed us to grab our essentials only and be ready to evacuate if the Civil Defense sirens sounded at 6:00 am. We hurriedly dressed, slam dunked a couple cups of coffee and grabbed our purses, cell phones, and computers.
The sirens blared eerily and we headed to the lobby. We were immediately squired to buses and shuttled several miles away to the Kukui Grove Mall.
Much of the mall was closed and deserted. We headed to the courtyard where a stage was setup for entertainment throughout the year. Our wonderful hotel had sent scads of homemade pastries and a cooler full of drinks for us. (Mahalo Maydene, and all the fabulous crew. Mahalo to Roberts Hawai`i also.)
And then the show began. Blaine Kamalani Kia, president of Ka Laua`e Foundation that created and puts on E Pili Kakou in Kaua`i, Sacramento, CA, Japan, Tahiti, and Vancouver, Canada corralled musicians and hula dancers to share with all the evacuees what is meant by “aloha”.
We sang, danced, prayed, and gave thanks as the day progressed. At around 230pm, the all clear was given and our newfound ohana (family) joined hands in a large circle to sing “Hawai`i Aloha”. It was what we in the islands call a “chicken skin” experience. Kumu Kia invited everyone to join us at the hotel that evening for our performances.
The weekend was extended through the next day with workshops since we’d missed our classes the previous day. But we didn’t miss our lessons. Not at all.
The real lesson of hula, indeed that of all Hawai`ian culture is “aloha”. Aloha – sharing with humility, compassion, modesty, and reverence all that you have to offer with family, friends, and strangers. Aloha – an outpouring of love and grace with no expectation of anything in return. Aloha – a way of life Hawai`i can (and does) offer the world. Aloha, a vision for our present and future that we Menopause Goddesses and elders can model.
Lei and I are home now on Moloka`i. We are grateful to have missed the devastating waves of the tsunami. We are saddened that our ohana in Chile are suffering from the destruction of the quake. And we are reminded to be our own waves – waves of Change. Not tsunamis creating havoc and laying waste, but gentle persistent waves. Waves of kindness and connection. Waves of peace and sharing. Waves of aloha. We can live that promise anywhere.