Posts Tagged ‘aloha’


I had a ton of fun with this tattoo! Meeting with the client. determining his history, drawing up the piece and then executing it, galvanized within me, the reason that I love my job so much: meeting and spending time with like-minded individuals.
This person hails from the Similkameen Indian Band (which is an offshoot of the Okanagan First Nation) in B.C., Canada. We immediately hit it off when he and his girlfriend came into the shop, asking about the significance of Polynesian tattoo. Because Polynesians and Native Americans are sister cultures, we ended up discussing the similarities of both and found that as individuals, he and I were very much the same in regards to our beliefs in both our cultures and personal lives. It is for these rare interactions, that I live to do what I do. I love meeting people from other parts of the world that have a profound love and respect for culture and spirituality as I do. It is rare, indeed and I covet those times like a junkie.
He had much history to discuss and like most folks it was filled with both happiness and sadness, love and loss, turmoil and prosperity. What we decided to glorify in this piece was his connection with the earth and the love for his family as the center point. He lives in a small village, virtually off the grid, and so his sense of community and connection to the ancient ways of his ancestors were also key points to consider. Hunting, communing with nature and respecting the practices of his ancestors are a very large part of his everyday life. I wanted to show that in the tattoo and it was not difficult. Sometimes tattoos design themselves and this is such a case.
I am so happy with this design because it manifested itself organically and in the end, displayed characteristics that were true to classic Marquesan tattoo (CMT) design, without anything being forced.
That is indeed a rarity.
Balance was what I chose to focus on because he was born on the scorpio/libra cusp and felt that balance was a key element in shaping his life. So everything in this piece is symmetrical and a mirror of itself, much like CMT. Not only that, but the entire piece works on the dual plane principle of CMT as well.
When all paka are taken into account (from a frontal plane), the entire piece can be seen to resemble an etua, or godling/divinity. The circle makes the head with each wedge shaped paka resembling (two upper and two lower, at each side of the tattoo) arms and legs, respectively.
As it happened to turn out, also along this frontal plane, another shape manifested itself in the lower quadrant, and that is the image of a face, with the koru forming a nose and the two ipu on either sides acting as eyes.
I did not intentionally set out to make this happen, it just occurred organically, which is always the best way for this to happen!
So, here is a breakdown of the motifs that speak of this person’s past and also giving him guidance and protection in the future.

Top to bottom:

The upper portion of this piece is split into 3 paka, with the circle being the center piece. From top to bottom the circle contains the following:

a) Past, present and future waves (hala, ano, mua) done as a flowing ribbon. The top arc is his past, the middle two converging lines are the present and the small pint at which they converge, the future.

b) Star (hoku), this is in reference to his spirit animal, the horse, as well as illuminates and guides him to prosperity in all future endeavors.

c) Birds (na manu), these birds represent his two daughters as well as freedom.

d) Sky/heavens/ancestors (ani ata) this represents his ancestors looking over him

Because of the symmetry of this piece, I will explain both right and left paka as one.

e) Hand (hena, i’ima) this hand holds the tattoo to the body.

f) Teeth (niho), protection

g) Palm frond (lau niu), connection to the earth, nobility

h) Eye (mata), to look out for danger, protection

When the two paka are viewed as one this is the All-seeing eyes, or mata hoata (protection from future threats)

i) Eye (mata), to look out for danger, protection

j) Spear (ihe), symbolizing the hunter

k) Teeth (niho), protection

l) Container of mana (ipu), container of power, the universe and creation

m) Container of mana (ipu), container of power, the universe and creation

n) Fish net (pahiko a tuivi), the purpose of this motif is to catch sin, or protect from sin

o) Hand (hena, i’ima) this hand holds the tattoo to the body.

p) Eye (mata), to look out for danger, protection

q) Fernhead (koru), Maori shape symbolizing growth, new beginnings, breath and life. Flowing from opposite directions for balance.

Thank you for spending time reading my blog and thank you for your interest in Polynesian tattoos.
Aloha and peace! R

I started this tattoo last month and it needs another hour or so before it is finished but I decided to post it anyway.

This client has been in before and is furthering his collection of Ana’ole Poly by adding a full sleeve. He is an avid waterman–paddles canoe and is a freediver as well– so he chose to go with an ocean-minded theme that reflected his love of the sea. I added other symbols that complemented his initial idea and this is what resulted.

Before I get into the explanations I want to say that one day I will learn to take a proper picture. I don’t know why I have no trouble shooting back up for Anna when she needs a second shooter at say, a wedding, but when it comes to shooting my own work, I screw the pooch. Oh well, I will get better!

Looking at the first picture, beginning from the left and moving to the right, you will first see the inside of his arm as if he were facing you head on with his palm turned toward you. Each consecutive picture moves around his arm with the last picture being the rear shot of his arm.

Starting from his wrist (and the image furthest to the left), the symbols progress as such:

There is a column of lightning that wraps around his wrist followed by a vine of maile with 4 leaves inset with momi (pearls) reflecting a FS. Inset into these two vines are the tips of the maile vines themselves.
From the side view (pic 3 from left) there are rain drops which segue into the lighting from that angle.
On the underside of his forearm (pics 4,5) are six wind-blown waves. Together all of these symbols create the rain on the ocean accompanied by lightning, suggesting power and perpetual change as well as joy, good fortune and growth. Rain is one of those symbols with balanced meanings with both positive and negative connotations.

Just below the inside elbow joint or ditch, are a trio of all seeing eyes which are surrounded by an unfurling palm frond (signifying growth) themselves crowned by five hawk feathers (hulu i’o) the combined ornament of all three symbols also carry the FS.
These compound symbols represent insight, protection from adversaries, nobility and growth.

Underneath these symbols are a row of shark teeth (niho mano) containing FS.

(Note: FS= Fibonacci Sequence, refer to past Ana’ole posts on this blog)

On the outside of his arm in the same general space (in the same pauku as the rain) are three waves (nalu) accompanied by two mini blade shaped paka which contain a total of three stars which symbolize strength, inspiration and hope. Below this pauku is the image of Pele (which I need to still finish).

Moving upward into the inside elbow crease is a symbol called Pohaku wa wahi wa’a, which was a stone hammer used to smash the hulls of enemy canoes. Ancient Hawaiian’s would sneak up on an enemy encampment in the dark of the night and smash their canoe hulls with this tool, and then slip away into the darkness. Since this person paddles canoe then I thought this image appropriate. Set into the blade of his axe-like weapon are a row on shark teeth (niho mano), three waves (nalu), and a spiral of ocean water.

Above this symbol lies another row of shark teeth reflecting a FS.

On his bicep is the god of the sea Kanaloa. He is adorned with water, waves and a small he’e (octopus) that pokes out from the bottom of his jaw.

The final symbol is located on his tricep and is an unfurling fiddle head fern set under the image of the sun. In the sun’s rays are FS as well. This part of the tattoo still needs a little work and is the part that I need to finish.

Total time:


Equipment used:

Dragonfly, Rotary Works (machines)


One (ink)


We ended up diving only on the second day but all in all the Roi Roundup proved a great success. Catch total for the entire event was 199 fish, 114 for Saturday and 85 Sunday. Our team of 3 divers, including myself, speared 17. I personally lost 4 but landed 5. A diver from Maui speared 28 on the first day, using only a 3-prong pole spear. Craziness!
Conditions weren’t the best with a tide change in the middle of the dive from high to low so getting back over the Puako reef with little wind swells breaking, was a bit of a challenge.
The event took place along a 1.5 mile stretch of coast line. We jumped in and swam 3/4 mile north (against the current) and finding the largest concentrations as we pressed northward. The reef at Puako is fairly long and extends out from the shore about 200 yds at a depth of 6-8 feet, then plunges to 50-60 feet as you come over the ledge. The bigger fish were down in these depths and the continued 50-60 foot dives took its toll on me quickly and I was only able to maintain a 25-30 consistency after that. We dove the buddy system which was one up one down (tournament style) which minimizes the risk should a diver have SWB (shallow water blackout).
Viz once over the ledge was about 75 feet with an upper layer of haze due to the wind. There are also fresh water spring up wellings which made for intense cold spots as well as blurry water columns.
There were about 10 other divers from Oahu and Maui and we all had a wonderful time talking fish and such.
It is mind boggling to think that we removed close to 200 fish from such a small section of coastline. Roi are considered top tier predatory fish with no real natural predators to keep them in check (think Lionfish in the Caribbean, but not nearly as devastating). The shear number of fish that the Roi consume on a daily basis are less then say an omilu (bluefin trevally), but it is the number of Roi in a given area that does causes so much damage to the reef ecosystem because they are so prolific. They love to eat small parrotfish, goatfish and yellow tang. Anyone would be hard pressed to find 200 of any other top tier predatory fish of any kind in that small amount of coast line, and that is something to think about.
The UH researchers were very pleased as they were able to take plenty of tissue samples.

Malama o kekai!

Check this out for more details:


Ana’ole walk-in


This person was a walk-in who wanted to get a tattoo before he left. Generally, this is the best time for anyone to get work done because it allows the enjoyment of the sun and ocean (two things that you need to avoid after getting tattoo work) to their hearts content.

He really didn’t know what he wanted to get, as we started talking about design, vacillating between several traditional Hawaiian symbols and placements.


Sorting out the gobbledegook in someone else’s mind is part of my job and thankfully this person was consistent enough in his desire to get some sort of Polynesian work done on him. Sometimes people come in and they don’t know what they want, but they know they want something (an allegory to life?). In these cases I tell them to go home and think about it since getting a tattoo shouldn’t be treated as an impulse, like say, changing your hair color or buying that Harley you’ve always wanted but never needed. Besides, I don’t want to put my time and energy into something that could be classified as trivial. But that’s just me.


Inside of forty-five minutes, we had established that he wanted something that exemplified his family, love of the sea, the Big Island and protection. Also, he wanted the tattoo to reflect his warrior’s spirit, although he joked that because he was now studying to become an accountant that his warrior days were presently in his rearview. Utilizing traditional Hawaiian symbolism within such parameters, his tattoo would have consisted of a smattering of triangles and squares and perhaps a petroglyph-esque rendition of various elements of the island topped off with a turtle shell. Fairly played out symbols that everyone and their mother has emblazoned on them nowadays. So, I suggested something a bit more dynamic and he agreed. Leaving me to my devices, he and his party went off to the local bar to have a few drinks. When he returned thirty minutes later, I had completed 90% of the drawing, and after making a few small modifications, we set an appointment for the following morning.


When doing any Ana’ole work I prefer to have some time to think about the piece, drawing up several options before finally arriving at a final design. In the case of a walk-in, I don’t have that cushion to fall back on, but as is the case with any walk-in, coming up with something on the spot is part of the challenge of creating a thought out, meaningful piece. I was very pleased with the final design, but more importantly so was the client.


Walking through this piece starting from the bottom and moving upwards from left to right, I decided to place the maka io, or hawk’s eye as the base for the simple fact that the hawk’s eye is a symbol of vigilance; always on the lookout for danger or opportunity. Behind the eye are lauhala checkers, which signify family and unity. Moving upwards along that same plane is the sun (which you can hardly see from this angle) which is a symbol of strength and life as well providing illumination for the maka io to see.


The next plane consists of a row of niho mano, or shark’s teeth, set into a wave. This is to symbolize the strength of the ocean, an object that he admittedly enjoys yet fears (as anyone should).


Just above that are two rows of spearheads signifying his warrior spirit. Set into these rows I put Mauna Kea to symbolize the Big Island since a volcano (albeit a dormant one) is a good way to represent the BI. Coming off of the right of this symbol are four waves which symbolize his family (at least the ones that he was traveling with this time). Since they all share a love for the sea, I have them coming into contact with the wave to illustrate this better.


Lastly, I put Ku the god of strength as the main hierarchal piece, to tie together the protection and power elements of the piece. Both the ku tiki and maka io are facing forward to confront anything obstacles that he may encounter in life.





PS. I promise that one day I will learn to take a proper picture!


Equipment used:



Pulse, Watson









Silverback 3,4



Today I was determined to get into the water.


Over the past month I’d upgraded a lot of my dive equipment–something that is wise to do often–and was eager to get in and try everything out. It’s better to test out new gear in a place that will afford you the time to fiddle and adjust things, should it be required, so I decided on a place about 10 miles south, down a dirt road, that had a nice deep bay that was relatively calm. Anna wanted to come and try out her new underwater camera housing, so we piled our gear into the truck and headed out.


Driving down the road I kept an eye on the water, checking to see where the wind line ended and watching the current. About half way to our destination the conditions began to improve as we drove further away from the wind blowing in from the northeast.


As we turned off of the main highway and onto the dirt road, I could already see that there was no one at the spot, we would have it all to ourselves!


I parked the truck and we walked a short dirt trail to the water. As we went, I listened to the ocean and the sound that it made as it crashed on the rocks. The ocean sounded somewhat calm, with only a slight surge as the tide came in breaking lazily over the rounded boulders near the water’s edge. When the ocean came into view I noticed that on the outside, in the blue water where I planned on diving, a slight wind chop had started as the gust from the northeast began to change direction. The ocean wasn’t glassy but it wasn’t the worst that I had seen for this area. The water was a little shaky, but it would have to do.


Anna decided to go on her own once we came to where the dirt trail ended. She kissed me and told me to be safe. I walked down toward the water, across the black lava rock that was toasty warm from the afternoon sun. I wasted no time. I suited up and jumped in.


I swam along the shore for a while waiting for something to malfunction before I turned and went out to deeper water. It didn’t take long before I felt me new knife come loose from my arm begging me to mess around with it.  The thing about fixating on a task while in the water, that requires you to concentrate on something while trying to ignore the moving water around you, is that it will quickly lead to wanting to barf. I have never done such a thing in the water, although a friend of mine threw up in his snorkel once after he surfaced from a deep dive. But the fact that he had a lip full of chewing tobacco may have played a small part as well. No, I am not making this up.


To avoid this predicament, I do what needs to be done as quickly as possible. Taking off gear and packing it on my float takes only seconds. But putting a dying fish onto your stringer when you’re bobbing up and down in the ocean, especially in the blues, where you have no reference points because the reef is just a black and green smudge underneath you, is a good way to make yourself hurl. I take off my knife and stuff the straps into the pocket on my float. I slip the knife onto my belt and head out to the blue water. I’m in no mood to test my equilibrium.


Visibility is poor and hazy, maybe 100 feet when I reach blue water. I float above a wide patch of sand that is 75 feet below me. Because of the poor viz, which was most likely caused by the wind, the usually crystal clear blue water now lies in a column twenty feet below me. I swim in through the haze and when I look out toward the open ocean I am looking through the haze. I don’t particularly care for these conditions, although pelagic fish use the cover of the hazy water to come closer to shore, which can be a good and bad thing.


At this point I figure that I would toss out some flashers, which are just bent spoons, to see if anything decides to come in and investigate. I have three.


I toss the first one out and it hits the water and begins to tumble like a wounded fish as it heads to the bottom. I look out in the blue and see nothing. My mind begins to play tricks on me and suddenly, through the haze I’m seeing flashes of silver and quick, dark shadows. I watch the spoon nestle in the white sand below. A nosy triggerfish swims over to investigate, then swims away. Suddenly, my heartbeat quickens and I get the ‘fish feeling’.


The fish feeling is hard to describe, even to other divers. Hell, I don’t even understand it myself. All that I know is that when I get the feeling, I should prepare myself. It has never let me down, although I’m sure that at times I may have been too out of touch to recognize it. At any rate, the feeling came over me and for some reason I began to think Rainbow Runner.


I love RR, they are also called the Hawaiian Salmon because their meat is red, but they are a member of the jack family and are found off shore in schools. They can reach four or five feet in length and weigh upwards of 40 pounds but generally those size fish are rare. So, like an idiot whose mind is overcome with visions of ruby red slices of sashimi stacked high in my refrigerator, I toss out another spoon because, well, I have the fish feeling.


This spoon hits the water, and like the one before it, begins to tumble downward like a wounded fish, to the bottom of the sea. I ready myself, looking out into the haze to see if anything has noticed my cheap tactic. I see a flash of silver and another! And then something materializes out of the haze. Before I can congratulate myself for being a fish psychic, I see another shape appear and then another. They aren’t rainbow runners although they share a similar shape. In seconds I’m surrounded by a school of Great Barracuda, or as they are know in Hawaii, kaku.


Firstly, kaku are solitary fish. The most that I have ever seen together are 3, and they weren’t so much together as they were in the same vicinity. I count 8. And although they aren’t huge kaku, which would be an animal 6 feet or more in length, they aren’t small either; four footers mainly, but I see a five-footer swimming out at the edge of visibility. These fish probably weigh 20-30 pounds I would guess.


Secondly, if you dive a lot and come across these fish often you will know how they approach you once they’ve decided to investigate. If they were people, they would be considered rude, face talkers. You know the kind that don’t give a rip about personal space that like to get all up in your face when they talk to you. Kaku are like that.


They approach you slowly, head-on, making them difficult to see outright. With their head angled slightly downward like a growling dog, it’s down right creepy. Add to this the fact that kaku are amazingly stupid, devastatingly fast predatory fish, that are attracted to flashing objects and swift movements. So much for my fish feeling.


Like playground bullies they surrounded me, closing the circle ever so slowly until they were so close that I could see their missing scales and parasites. I thought about shooting one, particularly the biggest one who had come in for a closer look and didn’t seem to want to leave. I contemplated having to deal with its gnashing teeth and ‘fight-to-the-last-breath’ attitude and decided against it. Kaku, although delicious, often carry ciguatera, a nasty little protist that taints the meat causing symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, reversal of heat/cold sensory, that is incurable once the threshold for ingested tainted fish has been reached. Besides, the last pesky kaku that I shot, tangled up my gear and almost bit my finger off and it was only 18 inches long.


So I floated, surrounded by a school of kaku. I looked back at the shore and saw the speck of Anna sitting calmly, taking pictures of something. The water churned and I with it. Calmly, the predatory fish circled looking for something interesting. I poked at one with the tip of my speargun.


After a few minutes they became bored and slowly disappeared back into the haze. I tossed my last spoon at them to see if they would some back but only one did. As it swam by it gave me a look like I was wasting its time.


I swam around for another hour, just looking at the fish. I took a half-hearted shot at a parrotfish but that was all. As the tide came in, so did the wind and swell. I saw Anna sitting on a boulder by the shore smiling at me. I decided that it was time to call it a day.


My fish sense was telling me that I needed to eat some lunch.

Part 2

To many people, Hawaii is that magical land where clothing is optional, the sun always shines and the most difficult part of your day is deciding on which beach to visit. The trees are thick with all sorts of fresh, exotic fruit, the sea teems with every type of delicious fish imaginable. The people who live there have nothing to do but weave hats from pandanus leaves and sip drinks from coconuts with a straw. Everyone is tanned and healthy, there is rarely any crime and shoes are those things that horses wear. Well, that may have been true 40 years ago, but things have since changed.

Back then, aloha was something that just happened. It was there when you went to the local bakery for a dougnut and they gave you a half dozen malasadas to take home to your grandmother because they accidentally made extra and were her favorite. Or, when your neighbor gave you a few bags of smoked meat or opihi because they knew that you liked to serve delicious pupus during Monday Night Football. But aloha wasn’t only about giving and receiving, it was also about family and unity. Aloha was the foundation on which every Hawaiian built his or her character.

Now, it has become a rare commodity.

I live in the town where my mother grew up. It’s still a small speck of houses, at the end of the road on the Northern tip of the island. People wave at one another when they pass on the road. Everyone knows what everyone is else is doing (or think that they know, at any rate). Sure people smile, and for the most part are not rude to one another, but this is not aloha.

Most people who’ve move here or those who have come here on vacation have no idea that this bastardized aloha is not the genuine article. There would be no way for them to know. To most transplants, aloha is the fact that the big moke at the beach didn’t kick your butt or call you a racial slur, when you accidentally stepped on his luau feet. Or, that the check out girl at the grocery store called you uncle or aunty, which could be construed as a affectionate term, but in reality, was said because she forgot your name. To the untrained eye, aloha is alive. Maybe not well, but alive still the same.

The unfortunate truth is that aloha is dead. It has been for some time. Just when this tragedy occurred is not clear, but I imagine that the death throes began somewhere around the time that I was born. More specifically, around the time that the plantations began closing and the the hotel industry began to flourish.

At the middle of the last century, Hawaii was no longer viewed as simply another island outpost, run rampant with godless natives that needed to be whipped into shape, modernized and educated. It had become of strategic interest to many different countries who had already established themselves there. The logging industry and whaling industry had come and were on their collective way out. There needed to be another form of industry that could capitalize on the temperate climate and cheap labor force that Hawaii had to offer.

Enter the plantations. Sugar cane became the new king.

There were 5 main sugar plantation companies, all eager to ride their cash cows into the sunset. During the mid 1800’s the workers began to organize, demanding more pay and better working conditions. The plantations owners responded by getting rid of those upstarts and bringing in a new labor force from various Asian and European countries. Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Puerto Rican and Portuguese were brought in by the boat load to harvest Hawaiian sugar cane. Whenever one ethnicity began complaining about wages and working conditions they were replaced by another.

I won’t get into the politics or fallout of such practices, but I will say that during this time Hawaii began to undergo a transformation that put it on track to becoming the racially diverse melting pot that it is today. It is also important to mention that during the assimilation of those various ethnicities into Hawaiian society, those immigrants were educated about the importance of preserving the endemic island culture. Children were taught about Hawaiian history in school, they learned the language (to a certain degree), and while retaining their own heritage, began to adopt the Hawaiian spirit as an extension of their own. The idea of aloha, of having and sharing love for the land and the people was sustained despite the radically different origins of those new immigrants.

My grandparents generation lived and practiced aloha; I see it in the way that their generation interacts with one another. There is a certain harmony that guides them, an unspoken kindness and affability that is not so common in subsequent generations.

They are the last, the keepers of the flame. When they all pass away, so will what remains of the true spirit of aloha.

But why? What caused this decline?

The answer is as simple as it is complex, but in a nutshell it had to do with trading happiness with happiness and more importantly just trying to survive.

Part 1

Things were better when I was a kid.

Life wasn’t something that required a credit card, a password or any device with an acronymic name to enjoy. I wasn’t counting calories, concerned about keeping my sugar or sodium intake in check and certainly didn’t give a damn about my abs.

We had 3 channels on TV, the radio played rock, oldies and disco and you had 2 types of blue jeans to choose from: Levi’s or Wranglers. One made you a rad, the other made people gag with a spoon. The two fast food joints were known for their differences; one flame broiled their patties, the other fried them, and you chose were to dine according to your mood.

But those were luxuries found only on the mainland. In the islands, you could go to Tex’s Drive In, Dick’s Coffee Shop or Cafe 100, distinguished only by the quality of their gravy. You wore the pants that were handed down to you or bought on sale at Woolworth’s.

At night on the black and white, you could watch Star Trek re-runs if the rabbit ears were cooperating, followed by Happy Days and Lavern and Shirley. Your choice of footwear was simple: Rubber boots, rubber slippers or cowboy boots; farmer, beach bum, hillbilly.

Life was simple: Get up, eat a loco moco at Cafe 100, go to Itsu’s to buy bait, beer and hotdogs, head down to 4 mile to fish all day while my dad drank with his friends on the side of the road.

How much better could life be?

Star Wars? Oh yeah, I saw that in the movie theater. Ditto, Raider’s of the Lost Ark. Video games? That was when the ONLY place that kids wanted to be was the arcade, and it cost money. The look on your parent’s face as they forked over another fiver whose fate it was to be fed mercilessly into machines that returned the investment with sound effects and perspiration, priceless.

It was a simpler time.

There weren’t as many people, traffic was something that occurred in places like New York or LA, fantastical places unto themselves. People were friendly to one another; they didn’t exchange suspicious looks. No one worried about being mugged, tagged, flash mobbed or twittered about. There wasn’t H5N1, mad cow, GMO crops or Ethanol. No one had to worry about someone stealing their PIN or piggy-backing on their WLAN.

However, what existed in abundance was aloha.

Aloha: Hello, goodbye, love. Those were the good old days. So, where did it all go?

Recently, my wife Anna and I went to visit my mom in Idaho. She was born and raised on the Big Island back in the plantation days, which according to her, was a time that was less glamorous than it sounds. Back then, they were lucky if they got a new potato sack dress for Christmas. They ate what  grew in the garden or was raised in a pen. They watched the knobs on the tube radio.

Life was simple, perhaps too simple.

My mother saw living in Hawi as a trap, a dead end. She wanted more for herself and her son, so as soon as she could she packed me up and headed to the mainland. Although I returned to my home to spend summers with my father and the rest of my family over the next decade, my mother never looked back. She was done.

But I digress.

Despite the fact that the only racism that I have ever experienced in my life occurred in Idaho (granted that was before Idaho underwent a ‘cultural revolution’, yikes), upon returning with Anna, I encountered some of friendly folks that I had met in years.

Genuinely friendly, people.

Cashiers making minimum wage who were eager to engage in conversation over the health benefits of quinoa. Strangers on the street or in the malls that were smiling at one another. Waiters who really seemed to care if our french fries were crispy enough for us, who were willing to stand over the fryer themselves to ensure that we received the deep-fried, chipped spuds of our liking. It was both refreshing and alarming. Refreshing because I was beginning to think that geniality was dead, alarming because I live in the aloha state, which has become, over time, bereft of its intrinsic commodity.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fantasize about living in Celebration, nor am I the type of person who enjoys engaging door-to-door solicitors of any kind, in any sort of debate. I enjoy my space as much as the next guy or girl. I prefer to sit in the least crowded section of a restaurant, I turn the chat function off on Facebook.

Am I guilty of killing aloha? Did the ideal somehow arrive at its current moribund state because of something that I or my generation had done? Now that we carry, at any given time, an average of three devices on our person that can not only receive radio, TV and streaming data, but help us find our way, do our taxes and make phone calls, shouldn’t we all be happier? Perhaps a better question would be: Where has our happiness gone?