‘The Return Voyage’

LIHUE — It is a true story of aloha and identity, deeply embedded in the kaleidoscope of meanings those two words have.

“‘The Return Voyage’ is about taking the message of the Hawaiian culture out to a larger audience,” Inette Miller said of her newest book.

This is the second book the Kauai award-winning author has written since a spiritual awakening she experienced after meeting Iokepa Hanalei Imaikalani 16 years ago. In November 2010, she had released “Grandmothers Whisper,” which won the Best of the Year 2011 Visionary Award.

“It is chronologically continual, but it is a very different book,” Miller said of her latest edition, adding it is a little edgier than the previous book and is open to a much different audience.

“The first one was deeply spiritual, and this (book) draws on experience that maybe more people can relate to,” she said.

About 17 years ago, Imaikalani, a Native Hawaiian, had a spiritual awakening that led him to give up material possessions and devote his life to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture. He embraced the ancient values of a people who lived in peace, with a deep sense of family and community and in tune with the environment.

Ten months after his epiphany, Imaikalani connected with Miller on Kauai. The author was here on a 10-day visit. Six months later, she too gave up everything she had and moved to Kauai for good to be with Imaikalani.

Since then, they have forged a partnership grounded in love, respect and cultural identity that has produced two books and has led them to numerous road trips across the nation and through the hearts and souls of thousands.

On Kauai, they lived mostly in tents and sometimes in friends’ homes. Without a computer, Miller said she used pens and yellow notepads to write “Grandmothers Whisper,” a book that spoke to people who are searching for something more in life other than a paycheck.

Imaikalani said that book was about their experience and what has worked for them, living on beaches and without an income, utilizing the techniques his ancestors had to survive hundreds of years ago.

After 10 years of a “grooming” period, the couple took their experience to a larger audience on the Mainland, where in six years they put 95,000 miles on the road.

A prolific writer and former national and international journalist, Miller said she can turn up a book in as little as two years. One of her books, “Burning Bridges,” was translated into a half-dozen languages and made into a movie.

But “Grandmothers Whisper,” reflecting Miller and Imaikalani’s first 10 years together, took 13 years to pen. Miller’s latest book took six years, she said, and was written using a donated laptop, and wherever they could find an Internet connection while on the road on the Mainland.

“The Return Voyage,” goes beyond the couple’s personal experience, and includes the lives of many whom they met on the road. The book shares nearly 50 stories, near and far from Kauai but each one related to the Garden Isle in some way.

Imaikalani’s goal is to share the Hawaiian experience in a much larger sense to include everyone on the planet.

After all, we all came from a tribe sometime in the past, he said. His message is not grounded on Hawaiian sovereignty, rather in preserving the Hawaiian identity, he said.

But he refuses to be called a teacher.

“We don’t teach anything, I’m a reminder,” said Imaikalani, adding he is just promoting what Hawaiians did for thousands of years, while living in peace with each other and connecting with nature’s ways.

When you talk to the universe, the universe responds, he said.

“I’ve stood in Poipu when the winds were blowing, with the palm trees swaying the way people sway when they dance hula,” he said. “Hawaiians emulated this, became part of it.”

Miller said everyone is put on this world for a purpose, and only that person can define that purpose.

“We’re not gurus, we’re not here to tell people how to live their lives, we’re here to say there’s more to life,” she said.

“The Return Voyage” went on sale Nov. 1 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in hardcover, softcover as well as the electronic version.

The book’s publication party is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Kauai Society of Artists at Kukui Grove Center in Lihue. Chants, readings, book signings and food will be a part of the event.

The Kauai event is being billed as the first in the nation as far as the book’s welcoming party goes, because a few days later, Miller and Imaikalani will embark on a six-month, coast-to-coast book tour on the Mainland.

Visit www.returnvoyage.com for more information.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com

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