Cambrian: Opinion

Even in Hawaii, paradise is a state of mind

Diane Brooke
Diane Brooke

Mele Kalikimaka! Of course, by the time you read this I will be back home on the mainland. But, at the moment, the sun is rising over Diamond Head, the skies are partly cloudy, and it’s a balmy 75 degrees at 8:30 this Christmas morning. Not bad.

Many observations here. Parking is a precious commodity, and it’s very tight when you do find a space! The speed limit is maxed out at 50 on the entire island. People slow down to let you in, to turn, to whatever. I did, however, accidentally almost cut off a moped. Coming up to a traffic stop 50 seconds later, he’d followed me and pulled up to give me what-for. Whether it was my sincere apology or my elf ears that caught him off guard, he quickly let it go. “Aloha!”

This “aloha” thing of which they always speak is a greeting when you arrive or depart but also a term of love and connection. I love that. I love the vibe. They live it, for sure. Everyone is friendly and helpful to the best of their abilities. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?

“If you get lost, just keep going — you’ll eventually come back around the island before too long,” was a running joke when I came here earlier this year. Something about having only so far you can go is likely part of why you take your time; don’t get too uptight. Obviously there are uptight people here somewhere, homelessness is rampant, and there are not-so-nice-people in pockets here and there — I’m not totally naïve.

But, overall, it’s pretty laid back. When you can’t just run away, you kind of have to face things! What an honest way to live! Perhaps if we approached life like this more often, ultimately things would be easier — get them done and over with, examine it (whatever “it” is), take it for what it is, learn something from it and move on.

The boys still have their phones on to keep up with the world, and my dear friend gets his newspaper to keep abreast of things. We’ve had many animated discussions about politics and social justice and injustices of the world. Yet, “aloha” keeps watering it down to make it more digestible. I can see how easy it is to forget the world here in paradise.

I was going to bring along the supplies to do a project with my sons, but the Christmas goodies and decorations (I made a folding cardboard Christmas tree!) packed in my luggage didn’t leave room. I had wanted to make with them a gratitude jar.

Decorate a container and, every day starting New Year’s Day, write down something for which you are feeling grateful, something that made you feel good that day. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it is a lovely way, whenever you are feeling down or too stressed to pay attention, to remember that there is a lot of good in your life after all.

Even if you’re not in Waikiki with your beautiful grown sons, you have good stuff in your life. Sunsets, rainfalls. … I know I’ve mentioned time and time again about being present — this can help with that; being present in a positive way, which is even better.

Take your jar or box or what-have-you and decorate it if you like. Then, perhaps you can cut up some pretty paper, however big you want, that will fit in your gratitude jar. Get a nice pen (that always makes a difference for me!) and start writing. You can do more than one piece of paper or just one but at least that.

Paradise, I realize, is a state of mind. Yes, it helps to have beautiful weather and beautiful scenery, but attitude is huge. Start focusing on the positive, fill your jar and you, too, can live “aloha!”

Dianne Brooke’s column appears weekly and is special to The Cambrian. Visit her website at Email her at