We can only be said to be alive, when our hearts are conscious of our treasures – Thornton Wilder
Look for the beauty, it is in everything, even the back of a dusty old market in Canggu.
I was sitting this morning looking out my window, feeling like I wanted to be creative but not being able to muster the feelings that come with that state of being. So I just sat. That’s it, sat. Doing nothing more than letting whatever was, be.
That’s the beauty of living somewhere like Bali. At times, we get bogged down in issues that seem too big to fix – the rubbish, the environment, more hotels. They are all incredibly important issues of course, but if we focus on them for too long, we can lose touch with the essence of ourselves.
Think of it this way: not all people have outward beauty. So we teach our children to look for the good in people. This helps us define beauty in another light – through its very essence.
It is the same with Bali. Of course there are ugly bits, and it is under threat of losing itself to what I’ve called the tourist invasion. But its essence, the bits that are sometimes covered with dust, are there if we look for them. And the more we focus on them, the more we value them. It’s awareness, but of what we want, not what we don’t want.
I was reading a book on manifestation by Pam Grout, a wonderfully inspirational woman who attracts love and wealth and health into her life through what she concentrates on. What if we could do that for the planet? What if we could seek out beauty all the time, in people and in places?
Let me explain it another way. I take pleasure in keeping my home clean. The cleaner it is, the more relaxing I find it. I have spots for lovely homewares I have collected on my travels. They simply shine when I clear away all the clutter around them. But what is more important, is that I value them more. As I polish a crystal vase, I feel grateful for it. My staff watch me helping, and they treat my things the same way. It’s almost like having an affection for them, even though they are inanimate objects.
I treat my marriage much the same way. I focus on all I love about us as a couple, the fun we have, the deep, crazy conversations, the little tiffs that we laugh about later. And we grow stronger as we grow older together.
So back to Bali. If we focus on the essence of what we love, will we dust it off, move away the junk so that it can shine, and generate more love and respect in the process?
There are two young ladies determined to rid Bali of plastic bags for this exact reason. They were born here, they love Bali, they want it to be seen for all its beautiful qualities. They do it with gusto and enthusiasm that makes me smile. They are learning marketing, PR and people skills, while pursuing their passion for a cleaner Bali. They aren’t negative to talk to. Instead, they spread awareness with joy, without losing sight of the essence of Bali that still exists.
I found these offerings at the back of an old market near my home in Canggu. The floor squelched under my shoes as I tripped through overflowing baskets, wrinkling my nose at the smell of decaying fruit coming from the tip at the side. Behind the market, an old rice paddy lay dormant, an acre of mud under a gritty sky. My camera found the offerings – I often walk with it up to my eye, seeing micro images of what’s around me. It’s how I see the world, in Polaroids that are blown up larger than life.
As I walked through the darkness of the market seeking out the essence of Bali, the flowers came into frame. They represent gratitude amongst the grime of the pasar (market). This is the essence of life in Bali, being thankful, asking for protection, giving back, and keeping balance.
I think that when we are conscious of our treasures, we linger with them just a little longer.
As I sit here, trying to seek out creativity, I realised there was no need to. It was quite okay to just be, to reflect, to feel a surge of gratitude that welled up into inspiration.
It was fine to allow myself, for a moment, to seek out the beauty right under my very nose and use this moment to create peace.
And it was a gift to consciously seek out life’s treasures and not create, but simply appreciate and let them be.
For more on the two young ladies, go to Bye Bye Plastic Bags and support their effort to rid the island of bags.