Yesterday I had a moment. One of those moments where it feels like the world ceases it’s normal trajectory and all of the sudden you become very aware of the scene unfolding in front of you. I had wandered from the city of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores, Indonesia up a hill to this place called Paradise Bar & Restaurant with apparently fantastic views of the ocean. Unfortunately I arrived and it was closed. The door was cracked a bit and with my usual “keep going until someone yells at you” attitude I crept inside and said a nice, “hello”? One of the local employees peeked out and said they are closed but I think once they saw my hot, sweaty, desperate self, they took pity and offered me a drink nonetheless. I sipped on a Pocari Sweat (Asian sports drink) and took in the cool breeze and gorgeous views this place had to offer.
I quickly got to talking with an employee, Rino, and he had a few hours before his shift began and offered to take me to a secret beach. Well, as any solo female traveler would do, I obliged and hopped on the back of a motorcycle with a stranger in a foreign country. Woo! We traveled the winding roads with each turn providing a new perspective on the unbelievable views from being so high up. We finally arrived to the beach and although I’ve only heard from people that “there are no nice beaches in Labuan bajo, you have to go out to the islands” this was one beautiful beach. We talked and walked and swam and sunbathed for a few hours.
When Rino asked me how long I had been traveling, he couldn’t believe my answer was “about six months now”. He automatically assumed I was rich. That’s fair, but I assured him that’s not entirely the case. I went on about how I had saved up, sold my car, and how I use that money to get me way farther than it should by utilizing programs like couchsurfing. Although I’ve not used it myself during this trip I also explained to him the concept of workaway.com and he could be doing the same job he does here in Indonesia (a bartender), in other countries of his choice while living for free. I don’t think he heard much of what I was saying. Maybe it was selective hearing, maybe he has developed a victim mentality, or maybe he didn’t want to hear this rich, privileged, white person telling him how he could travel the world. I acknowledged the fact that I am privileged to come from the U.S. because travel is truly so easy for us. Our currency is strong, and getting a visa anywhere in the world is a ridiculously easy and inexpensive process. It’s not like that for everyone, I know that, yet I tried to explain he could travel anywhere in the Asean very simply but it was still not getting through to him.
This was where I had “the moment”. As this islander waded into the crystal blue waters of the island he’s never left, he lamented his life. “Every day same place again and again. Go to work every day”. He really was talking to himself, walking away from me and as I heard him verbalize these self imprisoning thoughts out loud. I felt pity for him not so much because of his situation, but because of his attitude. I sat there watching this scene unfold and couldn’t help but laugh a bit to myself because I know a person was walking around New York City at that very moment, thinking the same thing. This person in New York wants to be wading into crystal blue water, the sun shining on their back, with mountains and brightly colored boats peppering the horizon. And Rino wants to be in the big city. Comical yet saddening how this concept of “always wanting what you don’t have” works. This moment further solidified my personal mantra of, “it’s all about perspective”.
And this quote…
“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” — Eckhart Tolle
Originally published at www.omthego.com on October 27, 2015.
Originally published at medium.com