For the past 3 years I’ve worked as a seasonal ecologist, working in the wilderness of Washington, California, Ecuador, Hawaii and most recently Alaska. I’ve learned what it means to say hello and goodbye in a fast-paced lifestyle that my close friends and family can barely keep up with. I’ve learned what it means to say aloha in the truest sense of the word.
Aloha is a word that has become trendy in the English language. A buzzword that people know means hello and goodbye in Hawaiian. A shirt. A song. A cheesy line sung to the rhythm of an ukulele. After spending 5 years in the Hawaiian Islands I’ve come to learn that it means much, much more. There is a deeper meaning. It’s more than a word; it’s a way of life.
The word derives from a compound of the Hawaiian words alo meaning presence, front, face, or share; and ha, meaning breath of life or essence of life. It literally translates to “The joyful sharing of life energy in the present.” The word aloha holds within itself all one needs to know to interact rightfully in the natural world. We can use it as a way of life, to find an explanation of our place in the world and as a code of ethics to help us with our interactions in the world. Aloha teaches us to remember that the beauty of life is awe-inspiring and energizing. Aloha can draw us into the present moment, and in turn create feelings of love and joy.
As a nomad by virtue, I aim to carry this feeling with me in my travels. I hope this will help me to avoid becoming a weary traveler without a sense of home. It is necessary to remember that, despite how cliché it sounds, home is where the heart is. In a constant state of transition, it can become exhausting to reinvent yourself every few months, always planning for the next adventure. Hopefully, this blog will serve as a reminder to carry this feeling of aloha with me and as a guide for travel with purpose for blog readers.
After a summer of exploring beautiful places in south central Alaska, my job with Kenai Fjords National Park has come to an end. The next stop: the open road. I’ll be spending the next few weeks driving from Alaska to the “lower 48” on the Alaska- Canadian Highway (ALCAN). All 1,387 miles of it. Aloha Alaska!