Sitting in a cozy coffee shop in Laguna Beach, I continued eating my chocolate croissant and sipping my espresso latte as I listened to my nephew Jordan recap his recent adventure to Hawaii.
He had received a Dear John text from his now ex girlfriend on the plane ride over, he had been caught in a riptide and dragged out to sea, he hiked and fell down a mud bank, and he was confounded with the most treacherous surf break on the North Shore: Rockpiles. It tempts you to take a ride, yet will drop you into a volcanic rockpile if you fall.
I quite didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or just hug him and say, ”I am soooo sorry!”
He concluded his tale with, “But you know what Aunt Lisa? It was the best trip I ever had. I found my Aloha.”
“It’s finding your inner peace in the middle of chaos,” he said. “Of letting life happen around you, knowing that there is actually something bigger, more beautiful going on at the same time. Though you don’t see it, it is definitely there. If you just wait, it will unfold in its due time,” my nephew spoke like a wise old sage.
Banging my coffee mug on the wooden table, I declared, “I want that!”
Not realizing that I had opened the door to finding my Aloha, God heard my request and started designing a tailor-made course just for me. Had I had known that, my request would not have been so hastily blurted out.
And so my Aloha adventure began…
My daughter, her friend, and I were planning to catch an early morning flight to Mammoth rendezvousing with Jordan later that day. As we awaited to board, with half opened eyes, I noticed the flight attendants – rather than boarding the plane, huddled together in discussion.
“Due to severe tailwinds, the flight to Mammoth is cancelled. There will be no other flights until Tuesday. Thank-you for your patience.”
“What? Flight cancelled? No! Thank you for my patience? I am not giving it to you!”
“But mom,” my daughter tearfully looked at me. “Can’t we go to Mammoth? Can’t we just drive?”
Drive? I snobbishly thought. That’s out of the question. Me drive? Seven hours… Oh no, no no. If I can’t fly I just won’t…
“Mom,” her plaintive voice interrupted my trance. “Can’t we just drive?”
The alarm clock woke me up like a slap in the face. Knowing that I had a seven hour trip ahead just made it all the more irritating. Pouring myself what seemed to be an unusually bitter cup of coffee, I headed in the dark to pick up Jordan.
“Good morning Aunt Lisa!” he cheerfully announced like another slap in the face.
“No, it’s not morning. It’s still dark. There’s nothing good about this,” I most definitely replied. “I am having a non-Aloha moment!”
The winds were undoubtedly strong, and even though I was driving with two hands on the wheel I still felt the bullying pull threatening to knock me off the road. No wonder why we couldn’t fly.
I felt apologetic. In a moment of aloha vulnerability, just as I was beginning my confession, a Von’s grocery truck swished by with mud-splashing power, covering the windshield as if to blind me and shove me off the road.
“That was so non-Aloha!”I accused, and struggled on for the next six hours feeling defeated.
Waking up to the majesty of snow-covered mountains erased all the anxiety from the windy drive the day before, and I was ready to start afresh. Albeit, I had forgotten I was in Aloha training.
Hurrying down to the one and only grocery store in town to buy breakfast, I parked the car and suddenly looked up. Von’s: my highway archenemy.
You know what you did to me! Somewhere in this store is the same produce that tried to push me off the road. …Okay, it’s time to bring my Aloha out.
As I peacefully pushed my cart through the produce section, I took the high road to my perceived offense. I release it. I don’t need to react to what others do to me, for that matter, life. I am going to enjoy right here… right now.
Upon checking out and bidding good-bye to my no-longer enemy, I knew I had earned my green belt in Aloha.
That night we watched the movie Soul Surfer: the true story of Bethany Hamilton. Bethany is the competitive surfer who encountered a vicious shark attack that severed her left arm. Though her rehabilitation was great, her passion for the water never diminished. She accepted life on life terms. She believed God had a great plan that even encompassed her tragedy. She found her Aloha.
The movie humbled me. Leaning over to Jordan, I somberly whispered, “I guess she earned a black belt.”
Finding your Aloha is just something that happens to you one day when you want it. To want peace more than the fight, to rather be happy than win.
“Jordan,” I finally asked. “Did you ever surf Rockpiles?” With a smile I knew came right from his heart, he answered, “Everyday I looked at that break, yet saw the volcanic rocks where the surf came up to. Everyday I wished I had the courage to surf it, but I knew I didn’t. Until the last day…
“No one was out there. No one ever really attempted to surf it. They only saw what I use to see: the volcanic rock. But on that last day, I saw something different. I saw the most beautiful wave, the most perfect shape. And so I took my board out and waited for the next set. Something came over me, like a fearless knowing that I was infinitely safe.
“I saw the wave on the horizon and pointed my board. I paddled out and caught it, then I stood up and rode it all the way in. That’s when I knew I found my Aloha.”
Lisa Hamilton founder of Esther Project and Vine Foundation invests her time in charity work helping women restore their lives to new beginnings. She has authored two books and is an inspiring speaker of transformation and faith. Her humorous inspiring style evens cracks the hardest nut. She is a Laguna Beach resident and lives with her daughter, Allie and little dog Coco Bean. Visit her website at www.LisaHamilton.com