“Yes, I could have reached the same conclusions without ever leaving Brazil, but just like Santiago, the Shepard boy in one of my books, sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near…” ~Paulo Coelho
It was early November and I found myself in the fisherman’s village of Amed, Bali. Having just arrived in country, I felt fatigued but excited to be in an unknown place, and I had wandered to a local warung for a dinner of grilled fish. The tables were arranged neatly on an outdoor deck, and as I sat there in stillness I could smell the saltwater wafting through the humid air. Just moments after ordering my meal, the rain started falling and the music started playing. The youngest was no older than 6 years old, and he was beating on a makeshift drum, while the other, older boys played guitar and sang variations of old reggae songs. It was live music night, and the boys sang from a place of emotion. Balinese reggae poured from their souls. No judgment; only feeling. Simple, extravagant creation. As they sang, they became more connected in the human experience, and I could feel it as clearly as the raindrops falling behind me. Reflecting on how these small pleasures so often escape us, I promised that I’d make a conscious effort to bask in the simple things when I returned home.
I had traveled to Bali at the conclusion of an extended work trip that left me feeling accomplished but creatively blocked and in need of some personal rebalancing, thus embarking on another tried and true journey of traveling long and far to remind myself of things I already know. Forced relaxation. Excessive Simplicity. Oxymorons which exist and which I was seeking… to snap me back in place; rinse off the exhaustion of the rat race; and redirect my focus.
As an East Coast urbanite and member of Generation Y, I sometimes feel that I am living in a society where people have no time for each other. That golden part of the human experience– connection – seems to be a secondary activity that happens when we have already completed work or life obligations. There is a gap between the part of life that is necessary and the part of life that is fulfilling. Although this gap is not unique to the Western world, I believe we are far guiltier of it… of failing to see that we are living in a world of connectedness.
That first night in Bali reminded me of the beauty of simplicity. Every week, those young boys gathered to sing reggae music; they sang for the visitors and for the villagers, but also for themselves. And when they sang the Life flowed out of them. Although material possessions were limited, they had enough—and more.
We must remember to make time for the simple things, the important things. To sing when we can, whatever our song consists of. To make time for ourselves. To make time for each other. To connect. To be present. And, when possible, to enjoy a little reggae music on a rainy day…