{moszoomimglink:Marco and his mahu lei}Hawai'i does a lot to a person, but little is more profoundly life-changing than aloha. You'll hear this word uttered mainly as a greeting or a good-bye, but it actually means 'love'. You might think that a people that throws the word love at anyone they see is a bit careless and insincere, but you and I would be wrong. When Hawaiians throw love around, they do so with abandon and inclusion, and their aloha is meant as a real concept.

You'll find that Hawaiians nowadays are less likely to shower you with affection, and you may find yourself ill at ease in a congregation of natives of the island. You might feel an overbearing sense of resentment towards whoever you are - or better, what you look like. Remember that in the past two hundred years, Hawai'i has been plundered and raped a many thousand times because it was so inclusive with its love (and because it had few weapons with which it could have defended itself).

{moszoomimglink:A group at the pool}And yet when you find someone that is still imbued in the spirit of aloha, this inclusive, non-possessive kind of human fraternity, you experience something unique. You can learn that there is a way to live that is happy and joyful and doesn't include success and riches. To me from the Bay Area, that is probably the most important lesson in life, for here we have a place that is so immensely beautiful, and yet so unaffordable that we don't have the time to enjoy it for fear we will lose our homes.

The candor is lost for good, which is one of the great tragedies of mankind. The remnants are like smoldering cinders, though, and you can use them to light your own fire of aloha, if you are receptive enough.