Ecological Economics

Islanders All >

'Seek Balance and Beauty'

“Care for Good Earth,

laugh often, be true.

We Islanders get it,

it’s now up to you.”

Looking back on the lessons of Lua, they were all really about a re-acquaintance with the timeless virtues of simplicity, sufficiency, agility, and resilience.


Conscious breathing. Eating whole, natural plant-based foods. Exercising. Listening. Learning. Connecting. Giving. Meditating. Simplifying.


These are all useful habits and behaviors for crafting healthier lifestyles; for creating caring, decentralized, low-impact communities; and for maintaining personal well-being. And they are choices that are generally available to everyone at all socioeconomic levels.


Pondering all those nourishing conversations aboard Kalea with life-loving Lua, I now see that she had very timely advice for a world now dealing with a global economic and ecological predicament caused by a deep disconnect with the natural world and fatal obsession with unsustainable growth, manic consumerism, and the concentration of extreme financial wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people.


Lua sensed the world was currently undergoing a grand civilizational transition away from a rather adolescent and rapacious empty-world ‘mainland culture’ — effectively empty of humans and our collective ecological footprint but abundant in natural resources — and towards a more mature and diverse world full of humans, our artifacts, and our immense ecological footprint, but also decreasing rapidly in natural resources and safe environmental operating spaces.


In evolutionary time scales, our once-upon-a-time, ‘one-to-many’ relationship with natural resources has suddenly and irreversibly flipped: few people, many resources has now become many people, few resources.


And because of these changes, we are sure to experience widespread financial, psychological, and spiritual hardship and multiple societal shocks as we deal with financial debt implosions and the negative environmental feedbacks of a too-long abused planet.


But our concern is misplaced if we think we need to somehow ‘save the planet’ from our abuses, Lua would say.


While human settlements and surrounding ecosystems may certainly be in for a difficult struggle ahead as systems begin to collapse on their own or as we transition through some form of ‘managed descent,’ Earth will be fine. After all, Nature always bats last.

'Seek balance and beauty,' Lua would counsel, 'and you will probably be moving in the right direction and doing what the world needs you to do at this moment.'


Through her many beautiful ukulele songs, she conveyed her joy in giving, gratitude for living, love of music, and her remarkable inner peace. ‘Care for Good Earth, laugh often, be true. We Islanders get it, it’s now up to you,’ she would often sing.

Lua certainly had a special way about her.


Lua’s Way! Of course! That would be a much better title for the book … it’s simpler.



After some time, Doc showed up carrying his beautiful natural-wood acoustic bass guitar.


The breakfast crowd had 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:


Oh Lua, she 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 strive, to own land, sea, and sky
But those on the Island, seek 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
But Islanders know, a much better way
Give more than get, and cherish each 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 right 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.


We 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.'

Ecological Economics

Islanders All >

​© 2019 Rich 'Rico' Leon