How I created change in my life for the better
Our guide on our Mt. Batur hike was a 14 year old, Samuri, whose parents were elderly and could no longer work as guides. She had followed in her parents footsteps who had done it for decades. Samuri went to the American equivalent of High School, while also working as a guide on these hikes and having another after school job to support her family. Family is everything in Bali; there is so much loyalty, support and care to one’s roots, it’s beautiful. I was in admiration of this young lady who showed such strength, leadership and charisma for a young lady in her teens. She was one of the many who reminded me of how luxurious our lives here in America and the Western world are. It’s not unheard of, but is rare to find a 14 year old who single handedly supports her entire family. I know I personally worked as a teen, but that was to buy clothes and makeup, for spending money for the movies and to do things with my friends. It was not to put food on the table and a roof over my head for my loved ones. I wanted to help her; I didn’t have much on me and I didn’t know how else to support her. Even now, I still honor her, pray for her and she still has a special place in my heart. I often wonder if she still leads groups up that volcano every sunrise.
After resting, relaxing and taking a Balinese flower petal filled bath, followed by a Balinese massage, I met up with my new dear friends, Bryan and Leslie, that I had hiked the volcano with. This couple was one of the most impactful people I had met on my trip: a couple of Londoners who had quit their jobs, taken time off, and decided to travel the world before finding new jobs that would be a better fit. People travel for so many different reasons; some to find themselves, some for clarity, some to enjoy life, some to change their life for the better, some to think and find themselves or simply to discover what they want to do with their lives. The three of us hung out in our villa enjoying wine and french fries–“chips,” as the English call them–talking about our adventures of traveling and choosing a path less defined by society.
The two of them were married with children around college age. Over a bottle of wine one night, they decided they were done with their jobs who were imprisoning them from the lives they wanted. They spent the next few weeks reviewing their finances, how long they could go without work, how much they had to travel with and for how long, and then they were off for 9 months! What I remember most about our conversations was that the journey was more about finding out what you don’t like than who you are. We weren’t people who were meant to be trapped in offices; we weren’t met to experience the same day over and over again on repeat in our lives; we weren’t people who could be micro-managed or settle in life.
We received clues to who we were, but the truth is we all know who were are at the core. The problem is life has piled layers of protection and comfort onto us over the years that when we reached a point of curiosity and discovery, we have to spend years peeling those layers off. We had to decipher which ones were actually good for us and which ones were just fear based padding holding us back from what we really want in life.
The next day, the group went to visit an amazing and well known healer, Cokrai. We found him through our driver who had taken us to the volcano. While we had previously stayed at Kutut’s manor, the famous medicine man through the movie, Eat Pray Love, Kutut is unfortunately fairly elderly now and doesn’t work directly with clients anymore. In Bali, you don’t Google what you need; you talk to people, like the drivers, waiters, and restaurant workers, who know seemingly everything. People in Bali are so friendly and converse a lot, although only those who tend to work directly with tourists speak English.
Cokrai the healer put his hand on my head. He told me that everything was fine and not to worry. He said if I wanted to have children, I needed to take specific vitamins to prepare my body. He sensed my anxiety in needing to control my life. I was reminded to lean on my faith and focus on that instead of worry. “Everything is good,” Cokrai said.
The next day, I took it easy, spending some time uploading pics, lounging outside on the balcony of my hotel room overlooking the pool and vast greenery, and catching up with friends on texts and social media. I thought about what I wanted my life to look like and how I might create a greater change when I returned home. I had lots of thoughts, but no answers. Lots of wonders and had begun to see everything with a different lens.
Although I didn’t know the changes I would make or where I would be going in my career, what I did know was I was living in a world I never really knew existed, I was sitting in a new world and I was safe; I was sitting in a world of change and it felt amazing. I had complete faith that if I had the courage to travel half-way around the world to a world I didn’t know, I could make some changes in my “real” life for the better back in America. Ultimately, I knew I would be okay; I would be led to the right choices.
It was possible to have a life that was enjoyable and non-stressful; one in which I woke up everyday just simply happy to experience life. Bali and the Balinese people were proof of that.