I had a really fun 4th of July. The entire Oahu outrigger canoe community landed on Waikiki beach with all its crazy festiveness. The 4th of July race is fun because you paddle out against the waves and surf back to shore with them…and the waves did not disappoint. Sometimes they would land right on top of boats going out and completely flood them so everyone would have to jump out, turn the boat over (a mere 500 lbs) to empty it, then turn it back over, scramble back inside and keep racing. Sometimes waves would send one canoe barreling into the one in the next lane over and there would be collisions with loud bangs and paddlers flying into the water. To add to that, the paddlers like to have fun and wear costumes or add some flare because of the holiday spirit. Combine crazy paddlers with crazy locals with thousands of additional sailors on the island for RIMPAC with wide-eyed foreign tourists and you get quite the beach scene.
My team chose to make and wear tutus. More than once I stopped to look down and laugh at the fact that I was wearing a tutu on a public beach in broad daylight and felt perfectly comfortable doing it. The simple joy from wearing a tutu in public was surprising and liberating. We even got a couple free drinks from old men in Dukes who thought we were “cute” in our costumes. It turns out they were a bit of a legend group of older men – their pictures were on the walls of Duke’s, which is a famous Waikiki restaurant named after Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s most famous surfer and Olympian, and is a tribute to all the original great surfers and paddlers. The picture we took with the men is below.
It occurred to me halfway through my second free drink (the point of many a deep thought) to be thankful for that moment, and that day – a day dedicated to the mark of our freedom as a country. Sometimes it feels like patriotism is a bit of a dying concept – it’s become politicized and is arguably not pc in some circles…which blows my mind. But to stop and look around at the happiness, the craziness, and the celebration around me yesterday, it’s plain to see that freedom is not a dying concept. I chose to take in the scene of freedom and independence around me and to bask in its reality…a reality that so many nations crave and still fight for. This is a great country. Nothing exists in life without quirks and shortfalls, and our country certainly has a few of those, but the daily gifts we often unknowingly enjoy is truly a reason to put our hand to our heart and say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The picture below was from my race – just to show a little of what a mess it was out there with boats colliding from the big surf – biggest surf for that race in 8 years!