Sunday, January 23, 2011


View from Princeville at Hanalei

There are times when one will flow with the crowd.  

Social conformity, after all, is a requisite for a civilized and progressive nation.

There are times, however, when one must stand apart from the majority.  Times when one must draw a definitive line in the sand and declare,  "I disagree with what you're doing.  I choose something better for myself."

It's a matter of principle.  A matter of character.  A matter of courage.

It could also be the one choice that makes a significant difference.

Case in point:  My brother, Charlie (aka Silas Kaumakahia Aqui).

Several months ago, Charlie made the tough but very sound decision to quit smoking and drinking.

He didn't pussyfoot around with patches or programs or a slow and steady weaning from the nicotine and alcohol.

He just made up his mind to quit.  And he quit.  For good.

You see, we have a brother who, without warning, collapsed as a result of a brain aneurysm.  A lifestyle of poor choices--yes, including nicotine and alcohol.  Lots of both.  Poisons that are seductively alluring, overpowering, and controlling.

Thankfully, our brother survived and is currently traveling the challenging and sometimes rocky road of recovery.

Charlie quit smoking and drinking as a result of what had happened to our brother.  As the addictive poisons gradually left his body, he became reacquainted with the inherent beauty of a lifestyle that is totally void of mind-numbing chemicals.

It was as if his life made a quantum leap from being a film noir movie to living like a blu-ray DVD.

His food tasted better.  His passion for the laid back island way of living was renewed.  His love for all things Hawaiiana, especially his free diving and fishing for reef inhabitants, like the octopus (please see previous blogs, using octopus as a key search word), was enhanced tenfold.

Charlie rediscovered his appetite for life itself.

His old drinking buddies, gathered at a favorite spot on the beach, would see Charlie longer sporting a 6-pack in each hand but, rather, a water bottle.  Charlie had now chosen to imbibe on artesian liquids rather than products of fermentation.

And the wonderful thing about friends is that none of them made fun of him.  They totally respected his choice.

Meanwhile, our brother neglected to follow his doctor's orders and re-immersed himself in the old, familiar lifestyle of smoking and drinking.  Knowing full well that he was endangering his very life and jeopardizing his relationships with loved ones, he coped with life's stressors by succumbing to toxins which were at once very familiar and very dangerous.

Long story short, he got into trouble.  Health-wise and legally.  

Fortunately, our brother was given the opportunity to enter into a rehabilitative program.  With tremendous support from his beloved wife and adult children as well as his family of origin, he committed himself 100% to the rigorous program regimen.

Just recently, he graduated from the program and thus earned the privilege of returning home.  His freedom, albeit conditional until he can get final clearance from the presiding judge in his case, is something he does not take for granted.  

I know without a doubt that our brother will make it.

Which brings this post full circle back to Charlie.  

Because Charlie took the strong stance to give up smoking and drinking, and--more importantly--because he regained the pre-Fall gift of clear, levelheaded thinking and decision making, he was and continues to be our brother's go-to guy, mentor, and chief support person. 

Those of us who have experienced similar situations know very well how tenuous and challenging a transitional period can be.  Charlie's role in our brother's life is pivotal.  

It's about the beautiful yin/yang of recovery--when one is weak, the other can be strong.  Brother carrying brother until both can stand on their own two feet.

Or walk.

Or even run again!

As Charlie succinctly called it in a recent phone conversation I had with him--"Hey, maybe it was meant to be, yeah?"

There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord had had His hand in all of this.  In spite of our foolish and often bullheaded choices that end up hurting our loved ones and ourselves, God has a wonderful way of turning bad into good.

So, Charlie, there was no maybe about it.  There was definite divine intervention.  And it was allowed to be because both of my brothers began making better choices.

My hat's off to my brothers.  They each in their own individual way inspire me.

I love my family of origin.

1 comment:

  1. I love you Joe, Wow! you brought tears to my eyes! I love you Brah!