Many of the older homes in Hawaii were constructed with only a single exterior wall, which is often referred to as single wall construction. The original purpose of single wall construction was to save on costs because most building material has to be shipped in from the mainland. Single wall construction is possible in Hawaii primarily because there is no need to insulate against the cold. Many of these single wall homes have louvered windows to throttle the cooling effect of the trade winds. Since the wood used in single wall construction is exposed to the elements, redwood or cedar are preferred for their termite and dryrot resistance. In the 1980's, the price of redwood and cedar increased, offsetting the cost advantages single wall construction once held. Since double wall construction requires slightly less skill, single wall homes became less common. An irony about single wall construction is that they have less bugs, don't need air conditioning, and are cheaper in the long run. Single wall homes typically have no fiberglass insulation and often do not have any drywall, both of which are some of the less earth friendly of all building materials.
Where am I going with this? Off on a tangent of course.
I'd like to think we as humans have the option to build our exterior with single or double construction. It's easier and far more common to go double-wall, first framing our boundaries, then attaching osb, a moisture barrier, and an exterior siding. At that point we go about our business of insulating, drywalling, taping, painting, and installing floors and baseboard. When we are done, we feel strong and protected, and we can open our front door to any of our friends who ring the doorbell or text us that they are stopping by to visit.
By contrast, the single wall human takes a bit more thought and work. Any gaps will be very noticeable, so the joints between boards and all of the angles which are exposed should maintain tight tolerances. Electrical wires have to be concealed behind casing, and plumbing routed entirely under the floor. A lot less material is used, but more time and care must go into the process of building, a process of delayed gratification.
As a child, I never appreciated single wall construction. I thumbed my nose at any homes that looked so "cheap". I erroneously assumed that drywall was "right". I did not fully appreciate the simple beauty that was all around me, single wall homes just seemed like a construction project waiting for funding.
But I do remember how it felt to be inside one of those homes. How connected to the island you feel when the tradewinds sing through, and how much you hear through the openness of the walls. In many ways, this feeling, the single wall feeling, describes what I feel in yoga, of connecting myself to the outside, while remaining indoors.
The privileges of a childhood in paradise are numerous because of all the uniqueness which simply cannot survive elsewhere. Unique species, unique construction methods, unique family units, and unique and breathtaking views of natural wonder. And yet, while the specifics of Hawaii's uniqueness cannot be directly experienced on the mainland, the conceptual approach to openness and connection is an option for everyone no matter where they are. We can always extend ourselves to others in various ways without giving up much of anything from ourselves. We can always get by with less, less stuff, less food, less time, less praise. We can always feel more connected to the world, by removing barriers between ourselves and that which we seek to be closer to.
One of my favorite memories of home, of being in a place I will always call home, is running past a single wall house, as the afternoon showers rinse my skin, and feeling an intense connection to the life flowing all around me.