'Seek Balance and Beauty'
“The human condition isn't a competition.”
Looking back on the lessons of Lua, they were all really about a re-acquaintance with the timeless virtues of simplicity, sufficiency, community, connectedness, personal growth, and resilience.
Conscious breathing. Eating whole, natural plant-based foods. Exercising, preferably in Nature. Listening and learning, continuously, throughout your entire life. Connecting with the world around you. Giving. Meditating. Simplifying your life. These are all useful habits and behaviors for crafting healthier lifestyles; for helping to create caring, decentralized, low-impact eco-friendly communities; and for achieving meaningful personal growth and maintaining a quiet and harmonious ego.
The human condition isn’t a competition, Lua insisted, as many mainlanders are conditioned to believe. Rather, it’s an experience. Life is not a lonely and brutal trek up some Maslow summit of personal fulfillment and self-actualization, but a wondrous journey to navigate as best we can. We are each like sailboats on a vast blue ocean, full of possibilities for meaning, purpose, discovery, and growth; but also full of danger, darkness, and uncertainty. And we needn't journey alone.
Of course, Lua didn't use just any sailboat for her metaphor, it had to be a South Pacific islander classic: a Polynesian double-outrigger sailing canoe, or what mainlanders call a trimaran. She explained her marvelous multihull metaphor for personal psychological and spiritual growth like this:
Our main hull is physical SAFETY. It keeps us afloat.
Our two supporting outrigger hulls are psychological assets: CONNECTION and SELF-ESTEEM. Their added buoyancy and stability counteract loneliness and self-doubt while enabling forward progress under sail with poise and graceful confidence.
LOVING, GIVING, and CREATING are our sails. When they are open, they transport us to greater health, vitality, impact, creativity, connection, contribution, and ego-quieting wholeness.
PURPOSE is our rudder/tiller. It provides meaningful direction.
CIRCUMSTANCES are the rough seas, punishing storms, rogue waves, abusive headwinds, insufferable doldrums — and occasional fair winds and following seas — we encounter along our journey of exploration, setbacks, discoveries, disappointments, joy, grief, and growth.
Our anchor is MEDITATION. It is best deployed anytime safety, connection, self-esteem, loving, giving, creating, or purpose are in need of maintenance, repair, or upgrade.
When we are sailing into novelty that is perfectly balanced just outside of our comfort zone, but within our capabilities; we experience FLOW STATES: heightened periods of intense creative engagement where learning accelerates and time vanishes.
And when we experience sublime life-altering moments of perfect sailing in exquisite harmony with current weather conditions; where inner and outer worlds resonate, connect, and unite; where we experience awe, wonder, rapture, insight, or ecstasy; those are TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCES. They are beautiful.
'Seek balance and beauty,' Lua counseled, 'and you will probably be moving in the right direction and doing what the world needs you to do at this moment.'
I was convinced that Lua, in her own unique style, had mastered the art of THE GOOD LIFE. Through her many beautiful ukulele songs, she conveyed her joy in giving, gratitude for living, love of music, and her remarkable inner peace.
After some time, Doc showed up carrying his beautiful natural-wood acoustic bass guitar. The breakfast crowd had already come and gone, so we took our instruments out front to practice some new tunes to a captive audience of fidgety curly-tail lizards and an occasional passer-by looking very lost. We worked on the arrangement for the beginning of a new song — inspired by my time aboard Kalea with Lua — that I had written during my flight back home:
The Islander sings ‘bout the Mainlanders’ ways
'Bout how they do spend their nights and their days
Working and fighting to get ever more
Dulled to those simple things they should adore
Now make no mistake she understands why
The Mainlanders' think they own land, sea, and sky
But those on the Island love balance and beauty
And caring for Earth, their Sacred Duty
The mainlanders’ ways, so noisy and fake
Make you believe to thrive you must take
The Islander knows a much better way
Share what you have, give thanks every day
My new friend, the cheerful young barista with the lovely smile, had stepped outside to collect empty coffee cups and wipe down tables just as we were finishing the song. And just after I strummed the final chord, she sang a pitch-perfect outro with all the soul and conviction of a true believer:
"And make sure to dine at the WorldBeat Café!"
I cried out,
“Yes! Of course!”
We all laughed heartily at her witty sales-pitch jingle to end the tune and went back into the café together. I had to collect my backpack and wanted to finish my coffee before loading up my bike and riding back home on a gorgeous South Florida day. I asked my new friend as I gathered my things and pulled a chair out for her at my table,
“You got a few moments to chat?”
I noticed that the café was quite empty and perhaps I could learn a bit more from this inspiring young woman.
“I can take a break for a few minutes, sure.”
“Are there any encouraging trends you are seeing from your studies? Any good news out there?”
What she told me next made me think of the insightful words of R. Buckminster Fuller: 'You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.'