Today is my last full day in Indonesia. It has been one month since I arrived in this tropical haven. I came here with no specific plans or reservations, though I did mention I’d like to maybe surf and climb Mt. Rinjani – a volcano located on a small island four hours from Bali. But as my time here comes to a close, I’m happy to report that I did neither, ha ha.
The experiences I had were not any kind of experience you’d find listed as an ‘attraction’ in a tourist pamphlet, nor would it be given a five-star rating on TripAdvisor. The longer I’ve been out in the world, exploring, discovering and living, I’ve come to realize that I don’t really care about any of those ‘things’; the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the museums, the temples, all those ‘must-see’ attractions… Sure, they can be interesting and beautiful, but most often I don’t cherish those moments spent in those places. And every time I do give-in and tell myself to “just go”, upon arriving I immediately wish to leave and retreat to someplace less congested.
The most memorable and valuable experiences I do have, however, often include people and simple activities. Even if we’re doing what some consider to be ‘mundane’ or ‘boring’, it is in those moments of sharing and connecting where one truly ‘gets’ the essence of life, as they see the divine in what could be considered banal.
If you can find happiness in what appears to be nothingness, you have discovered The Way.
We as humans have such big egos about what we think matters in life and will get us from point A to point B. We believe we need to DO more and HAVE more and the more DOINGS and HAVINGS we accumulate, the more complete and successful we will be. When one lives a linear life in a finite system of course it seems only ‘natural’, ‘logical’ and ‘realistic’ to strive for more possessions and accomplishments. “I need to get more and do more so I can become more” so the story goes…
We can have by not having and do without doing.
This past November, I was in enrolled in the Advanced Mountaineering Course at HMI. It was our forth night of seven at ABC (Advanced Base Camp) located at 15,500ft. Myself and my course mates were staying in tents, located in a very isolated region, living off bare essentials – simply what one one needs to survive in the mountains. It was FREEZING cold, the winds were wildly fierce, not to mention it had been nearly 2 weeks since we had showered or had any kind of nurturing home comforts. That evening while in the tent huddling together for warmth, our female instructor popped in and exclaimed she had a ‘surprise’ for us. We shrieked with excitement at the thought of what she could possibly have to share. Once our eyes and focus were directly on her, she gently pulled from her pocket a small white candle. After taking about one second to process what she had just revealed, we all yelled with joy in unison, “A CANDLE!!!” Yes, that was the surprise, a small white candle. While to some this might seem like a let-down, to us it was pure gold. We roared and cheered with excitement, giggled and laughed with glee as we quickly cleared a place on the tent floor to light this prized possession. Once we cleared a space we placed a cup, and gently dropped the candle inside. After we lit the stick, the five of us sat around this small beam of light in silence. While no words were spoken, you could tell by our smiles how exceptionally grateful we all were for this surprise.
It was in that moment that I realized how we choose what has value in this world. So much value and joy came from something so small and mundane, but in the mountains that candle was more valuable than money, status or a shower. Although we were climbing mountains and DOING an extraordinary feat in order to HAVE a certificate of accomplishment, one of the most memorable and significant parts of the expedition was that night, sitting among friends in silence by a tiny white light.
There is significance even in what seemingly appears as insignificant.
When you’re able to appreciate and see the extraordinary in everything, you will stop stressing yourself out with all these doings, havings and wantings.When you hold back the ego’s demands and start seeing the purpose and value in every experience and in every moment of your day, you will realize you already are successful and that having more and doing more doesn’t mean a heck of a lot. That’s not to say I won’t ever go to a World Heritage site again or that it’s wrong to want to see the tourist attractions, the point is whether or not you make sitting in an apartment less significant than spending an afternoon walking down Hollywood Boulevard. Both are significant. When you accept where you are and what you’re doing in each moment, and recognize the value that THAT activity has and adds to your life, you will ALWAYS be happy. You will never feel like you have to get anywhere, have something more or do another ‘thing’ in order to attain success. You will instead see that where you are right now in life is perfect,and there is success in the status you presently uphold.
Next time you find yourself having to do something which seems mundane, like laundry or cleaning the house, look to see how this experience is valuable and fulfilling. Or, the next time you find yourself wanting or craving something – like a new gadget or clothes – ask yourself what sort of fulfillment you believe you will get from this item, and if it will truly bring the success and fulfillment you desire.
True success is achieved when one realizes that they already are successful.
Laska is a Canadian Writer currently living in Asia. When not writing, coaching or speaking you may find her in the beautiful Himalayas. Laska invites you to join the movement of those choosing to Live PASSIONately OVER their PAST Experiences by hashtagging #PassionOverPast via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.