• Angie

A Shaka Kind of Day


The shaka gesture. Hang loose, man. Here is it also used to convey the Aloha Spirit, a concept of friendship, compassion and solidarity. Drivers wave it frequently to let others merge or express gratitude.


For us it has become a crucial reminder to hang loose and let go. It’s all good. No worries, man. This is our #1 lesson for being in Hawaii and an attitude transformation we hope to cultivate and take with us.

Practicing in Kona.

I find myself making the gesture a lot to myself as encouragement to go with the flow. We’ve learned that the island indeed has its own flow and it does no good to fight it. A quote I came across to support these efforts:

“Make plans then do what happens.”


It is now written on the white board at our front door. We certainly make plans or we may not do anything. But then just go with whatever happens, which may or may not have anything to do with our plans. I’d like to share a couple of examples.


Example #1 was a Happy Shaka Day:

We set out to find one of Dan’s hikes: Puako Petroglyph trail. Assuming he knew where he was going and it was near Puako (understandably), we drove up the highway to that turnoff, then drove aimlessly down the road a few miles until we stopped to figure out how to get to the trailhead. Turns out it was __ miles back toward home so we turned around and headed back the other way. [shaka] Our reward for getting lost and not getting upset about it: hot, fresh roadside malasades we would not have otherwise seen. Malasades are a Hawaiian donut—but so much better as they are thick doughy balls of yummy rolled in flavored sugar. I’d heard about them but never had them yet.


We made it to our planned hike and had a great time. Then on to another shorter trail we traversed a bit through hot lava fields before deciding we were done for the day.


As we had been going back and forth up and down the highway, we kept passing The Ahi Fish Guy. Just a day earlier we had heard that there is often a guy selling fresh-off-the-boat ahi at the highway corner that is amazing. I was repeatedly disappointed that we couldn’t stop since we were on our way to our planned activities with no way to keep it cold. I was sure that by 4:00pm when we headed home he would be long gone.


But the island was watching out for us and as we approached our corner, there he was! We were able to buy some amazing ahi and make homemade poke that night for dinner. We reflected that in the morning we had no idea how well we would have eaten that day, and we were so glad we didn’t have to stick to some pre-planned script and miss the magic along the way.

Example #2 was not as happy but still important to learn Shaka:

Shaka Day #2 I certainly did not want to deal with. Last week, after a wonderful hula performance by our friend’s hula group, we wandered to our rental car to find that it would not start. At 9:00pm we now were trying to call AAA (thank goodness we planned ahead to keep our membership). After no success and not sure how to handle a breakdown when renting through Turo (the AirBnB for cars), we went home to bed. The next morning instead of going to Place of Refuge and snorkeling with our friends, we spent four hours dealing with Turo, the owner, and the tow truck as Lucas played a lot of Xbox.


Under normal circumstances, this would have put me over the edge. Fun plans ruined. Money wasted. Us stuck dealing with someone else’s broken car with too much hassle, and tow truck drivers who don’t know the definition of “one hour.” But the island is rubbing off on us and we didn’t even have to try and hang loose. We just did it.


Dan and I just did the next right thing we needed to do to resolve the issue. We called and talked to people, patiently and calmly. We waited (and waited) patiently for tow truck, chatting together while our son played safely at home. And then we did the next logical thing: went to the bar and had a few drinks. Shaka. Hang loose. Stuff happens so what are you going to do? In so many ways we were so lucky not to be stranded somewhere way out or have to really fight with the car people. It all worked out.


The next day our friend drove us down to the airport to pick up another rental (from Budget) and now we’re driving around in a nice Jeep Compass upgrade since they were out of the one we picked out. (We did get a refund from Turo and they could have tried and provide a replacement, but we still can’t recommend them because of the hassle and lack of quality assurance on the cars.)

We “lost” two days of our vacation but we actually gained time to relax at home, make future travel plans (ironically) and play some family games. And we are most proud that we demonstrated to Lucas a healthy, happy and Hawaiian way to deal with problems. Don’t freak out, just solve them.

A daily reminder.

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