In McCully, there is a group of elderly women who walk around the school block almost every day, rain or shine, in utilitarian smocks and sun visors (and now face masks). Our family has noticed them taking these strolls together for over ten years, chatting or walking their tiny dogs. These women appear to have formed what Okinawan people call a moai, or lifelong social support group that "meets for a common purpose": a main component of incredible Okinawan longevity, according to Blue Zones researcher Dan Buettner.
Not only have these women built their own community of health and camaraderie, but they've drawn us into theirs. They don't realize we look forward to seeing them, or that they've encouraged us to walk outside with our own friends more often. It's fun to wonder what strangers you might have inspired today, without even knowing that they were paying attention.
Remember making Valentine's cards for every kid in the class, even those you didn't particularly know or like? What if we all took the "Spread Aloha, Not Germs" signs to heart this month? Instead of celebrating the holiday just for romantic couples, what if we wrote cards of support to single parents, or friends without any family nearby, or recent widows, or that lady with five dogs you always see at the park? What if we searched intentionally for communities to support? Our office recently participated in a food drive effort spearheaded by a local nonprofit that delivers groceries to kupuna and others in need, aptly named Help Is On the Way. We discovered that it's pretty difficult to feel overwhelmed by your own situation when you are actively helping others.
Some of us are married with young children, while others are single and proud pet parents. Others on our team are grieving the loss of a loved one, or about to celebrate 50 years of marriage. No matter your situation, please know this: you matter to us, and we are sending our aloha. Even during a pandemic of social isolation, we hope you are all able to find your own community, your moai, your tribe.