In Rod We Trust

Authored by: 
Beverly Mendoza

Beverly Mendoza

Saying goodbye to Rod last week, a fellow volunteer, a fellow soul mate, a fellow tribe member, was hard to say the least. We sat around a bonfire at The Point and everyone was in conversation, reminiscing already about the whirlwind that is the Kalani experience and speaking of the future which is so exciting for all of us. Terrifying, yes, and it was only so appropriate to be standing at The Point, on the edge of a cliff with the vastness of the ocean ahead of us and this fire burning in the ground.

Rod and I had a moment alone while he peed in the jungle and I stood next to him (talk about intimacy right?) If you knew Rod and were privileged enough to hear his story, then you’re a pretty lucky person. Let me just say that this man has been through it. He came to Kalani, he told me, unable to love and laugh and you wouldn’t have ever thought that upon meeting him. You see, he is laughter. It’s absolutely contagious and distinct and it ripples from the lanai to the jungle. He is love. And everyone loved him. He was the social butterfly of Kalani. His heart was stretched and opened here at Kalani, he said. And he never thought he would laugh as hard as he has here at Kalani.

That was his journey and transformation and it radiated from his ocean blue eyes, from his kisses and hugs, from his insanely wise words, from his nursing skills, from his heart.

Rod looked like he saw a ghost his last week at Kalani when he was in the process of saying goodbye. His eyes were perpetually wide open whenever I saw him. You know when a person is just really living presently? When they are absorbing the intensity of each moment? You can practically feel that earthquake in their soul radiate from their body. We always held hands when we spoke and that night at the point he placed my hand on his heart as we said our goodbyes. This man has a drumming circle inside him. One wild drumming circle. To witness a person go through this transformation and have the breakthroughs that Rod had, is so f-in precious. It is so awe-inspiring. And so I thank the Universe for his presence, for bringing him into our lives, for witnessing his light.

Q&A: Rod OlinRod Olin

What brought you here?

I had an opportunity to take a break from my life in New York. The lease on my loft was up for renewal and I was ready to change my job. My friend Jared has been teaching Yoga here for a long time and so I booked a ticket and leapt into the unknown.

What was your first impression of Kalani?

When I got out of the van it was nighttime. I walked into the office and asked them what the ambiance soundtrack was titled and it was actually the koki frogs. That’s when I knew I’ve lived in the city for way too long.

What struck me once I settled in was the friendliness and open hearts of the staff and volunteers here. It gives you a sense of feeling at home.

What book did you get turned onto here in Kalani?

Like half of my kitchen workers, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was amazing how elements of that book mirrored my journey here at Kalani.

What advice would you give first time volunteers? What do you wish you would have known?

Know that as magical and beautiful as Kalani is, it’s also the most amazing and challenging microcosm of the outside world. All of the joys and hurdles are highly amplified. With this it is a great opportunity to observe your own human nature and grow accordingly.

What’s your favorite Kalani buzz-word?

My favorite Kalani word is forgiveness. Because when you live in a community you learn that word over and over and over.

What’s your most memorable day so far?
The day I was at Kehena Beach and conquered my fear of the waves and swam with the dolphins. I learned a really important life lesson that day using the waves as a metaphor. If you fight it and panic then you’re going to sink but if you relax into the wave and make peace with the ocean then it’s smooooooooooooooooooooooth sailing.

How have you changed, can you tell already?

Besides the obvious changes to my body because of yoga, my capacity to maintain an open heart and laugh off challenging moments has expanded beyond what I could have ever imagined. But the real barometer will be when I return to the outside world and when I can measure my responses and actions in my mainland life.

Top five things to bring with you?

  1. A copy of Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart
  2. Your favorite hoodie
  3. A pair of Tevas
  4. An ipod
  5. A good security blanket

What really inspires you about the Big Island?

The relaxed nature and smile of its inhabitants.

Where to next? Do you know yet?

Portland, Oregon for three months to work as a travel nurse. Possibly traveling to South America through the winter.

What will you miss the most about Kalani?

All the people I love. It’s going to rip my heart out to not see them everyday. Even though I know I will maintain my connections with my `ohana it’s going to be very hard to say goodbye.

You know you’re Kalani-nized when...

When you’re riding a rusted out bicycle looking like an extra from “Lost” feverishly on your way to yoga class.