I wake up under the sound of silence as the brisk and cool morning air settles into my tent. It’s still dark at 5:00 a.m. I smile and make my way over to this Hawaiian architectural space called a Hale (pronounced Hah-Lay). The project took a whole community of people working together to tightly thatch the roof comprised of sustainably harvested native woods and grasses all lashed together. Because the climate is so friendly here it does not require thick walls that would protect against dangerous weather.
The Aina (pronounced aye-ee-na) is the Hawaiin word for the land and the translation means “that which feeds”. This entire summer, for me, was spent immersed in the Aina. This Aina has changed my whole perspective on life and how separated we are from it.
As the sun rises with the orchestra of birds all cooing out with their own solos we stand in a line and sing E ALA E.
E ALA E
Ka la i kahikina
I ka moana
Ka moana hohonu
Pi’i ka lewa
Ka lewa nu’u
Aia ka la
E ala E
This translates to Awaken, arise the sun in the east, from the ocean, the ocean deep, (and yes moana means ocean for those of you drawing the connection from Disney), climbing to the heaven, heaven highest, in the east there is the sun, rise/awaken.
This chant resonates so much meaning for me, not only because I sang it almost every day but because we all need to rise up and start to awaken to our responsibility to change the future of our planet. Just like the sun rises from the depths of the ocean, we have to rise out of the deep grip that this world has placed on our everyday lives. We are so separated from the process of everything we use. From the candles we breathe in to the toilet paper we wipe our tushes with.
Waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning might sound like a curse for many of you, but as I started to flow with the natural cycle of the earth I started to notice just how much my body was craving for it’s natural circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is simply put: the body’s biological 24 hour clock that we devolved out of due to the implementation of synthetic lighting. When the circadian rhythm is out of wack our brains and immune systems suffer as a result. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that receives the light your eyes bring in from the sun and let you know that it is time to wake up or sleep. Your brain receives that message and releases melatonin naturally to help you fall asleep. I was on farm time, and naturally woke and slept with the rise and fall of the sun. This is why doctors recommend that we put our phones down before sleep…
Adjusting my body’s natural rhythm was only part of all of the balance. It didn’t just come from realigning with my natural biological clock. It came in many forms. The balance of life and death of the plants in it’s natural cycle of harvesting. It came in the form of understanding the ways that us humans interact and use the land- and we are so separated from how it works. Desperate for reconnection.
When I speak about separation from the Aina, i speak about all of the rituals we might be apart of; brushing our teeth, cooking our breakfast, drinking water. Many of us have no idea how any of the products we use got to us. Do you know how that tube of toothpaste was made? Or what’s in it? Yes, the water is clear but do you know if it’s rich with any of the nutrients that our body needs and CRAVES from water like magnesium or calcium?
Covid-19 showed us that these structures we have put in place in ‘society’ aren’t real. We as humans have placed so much emphasis and attachment on something like the United States as if it were a person. The country itself is not a person, the United States does not suffer when unemployment is in the millions. The United States does not suffer from anything at all, the people suffer. So this idea that the U.S will in anyway shape or form be hurt by the actions of it’s people is impossible. Individuals are the people that suffer. And we are suffering.
These structures act like boundaries. Boundaries that the industrial revolution have inadvertently caused. The accessibility to products is amazing, we can always be so privileged to get anything we want at anytime. I am going to emphasize the fact that we can get anything we want all of the time, without even needing to think about where it came from. THAT is magic. We can show up in a grocery store and poof unlimited options available on the shelf and most of the typical or classic American products are products that were synthetically produced (not real food), chemically enhanced (poison for the body), and pampered and packaged in a petroleum based plastic box (oil companies just suck).
Malama aina (working with/ taking care of the land) allowed me to access mostly only what was available at the time. Nature does not work on an instant gratification basis. Many of us live our lives in instant gratification mode. It isn’t our fault, the way we live our lives encourages everything to happen immediately. We are fulfilled immediately because we are able to take a quick trip to the grocery store and purchase a bunch of fruit. But that’s just it. We do not understand or appreciate the whole process that went into putting that baby peach onto the store counter. Let alone appreciate that we have the capability of choice. That’s the boundary and the facade we are invisible to. We did not get to cook with everything we got from the store, we cooked with the vegetables on the property and whatever was available from the farm. Sometimes when you plant a tree, you do not get to eat it’s fruit. But that in itself is the lesson.
As for the work that goes into it; it’s amazing how much time I spent harvesting certain vegetables like Arugula and yielded maybe a box worth in twenty minutes. Someone that goes to the market or store to buy it sees the product and is immediately satisfied and takes it home to use for themselves. Do they question where it came from? If pesticides were sprayed on it? Which ones?
It’s amazing how much time I spent harvesting certain vegetables like Arugula and yielded maybe a box worth in twenty minutes. Someone that goes to the market or store to buy it sees the product and is immediately satisfied and takes it home to use for themselves. Do they question where it came from? If pesticides were sprayed on it? Which ones?
We need to start tearing down more barriers and asking more questions about the things we are buying. It is so easy to go to the store and poof have everything you want, it takes a lot more to invest the time to understand where all of the elements of the products you buy are from. I challenge you to question just that.
I hope that everyone can find their aloha aina (love for the land). I hope that everyone finds it soon because the earth needs it. I would love to hear about any of the ways you try to make the earth a better place! Do you recycle? Do you go for zero waste? Do you eat plant-based? Do you pick up trash in your local area? Do you drive your car less? Do you cook more and eat out less? Do you use re-usable silverware? Whatever it is that you do I really want to know! Reach out via social media and leave feedback it is so important to me to hear from all of you.
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