10-12-2014 Chennai, India
This is something new for me. I’m not really confident about my English writing, but I think the only way to improve it is to practice. So here I am, writing my first English blog. It will not be perfect, but hey, what is perfection? There is no such thing as being perfect.
The reason I am writing in English now, is because I am traveling around Asia (to start with) and I meet all these amazing people on my journey, but almost non of them are Dutch. My blog is not really a travel journal, but I write about my experiences and what I learn about life during my stays in all this beautiful places. So I think its only fair that the people I meet can read what I have experienced with them.
“This day is so perfect, it would be okay to die today”
I wrote about the purpose of my trip before and I came to the conclusion that this is just a small part of a lifelong journey to self-improvement. But the roundtrip through Asia started at the first of October in the Maldives. People often ask me; “why there? Why you go to this tropical honeymoon islands on your own? Isn’t it very expensive?” My answer is simple; “why not? It’s a beautiful paradise, so why don’t just start at one of the most gorgeous places on earth?” I stayed at the local islands, in guesthouses, and that’s actually pretty reasonable in price. Especially if you compare it to the resort-islands. If you look at my pictures on Facebook you will see the perfect white beaches, the perfect blue sea, sea-turtles, dolphins, and beautiful corals and fishes. You see perfection.
One day I was on the boat, going back from a snorkeling trip while the sun was drowning in the sea, so the sky had this amazing gold, orange, color. It was like art. This snorkeling trip started with a group of dolphins swimming and playing around the boat, while we were heading to a place to find manta rays. And yes, we found them. It’s amazing to experience how this enormous creatures are flying underneath you. I felt so small, in this enormous blue ocean, but I wasn’t scared for a second. I felt blessed and overwhelmed with happiness. There was nothing in this world what could break this day. What I didn’t know then, that it was only getting better. What I didn’t know then, that I would fall in love this day.
Later, after a 45 minutes boat ride, with the sun on my skin and a nice breeze to cool it down, we arrived at a reef where sea-turtles live. I jumped into the sea and the first thing I saw was a small shark, just chilling at the reef. A couple of minutes later there he was. This beautiful little sea-turtle floating around. He didn’t looked bothered at all that this group of strange creatures, who are called ‘humans’ are suddenly disturbing his environment. Actually he looked quite amused. So he came to the surface to check us out and even let us pet him. I was looking at him from a distance and didn’t really push myself towards him, so I could just check him out and enjoy his colors and movements. But suddenly he came to me. Really close, so close I could touch him, and so I did. Gently and soft. He was so beautiful and smart and fell in love immediately. He started swimming but he kept on looking at me and it almost seemed that he was waving at me like, ‘come on, keep on swimming, follow me, I will make you some tea at home.’ So I followed him for a while, until I realized I was swimming away from the group pretty far, so I had to say goodbye to my new friend, with such a big smile on my face, the water came in to my mask.
Back on the boat, in the sunset, I realized something. This is pure happiness. This day is so perfect, that it would be okay to die today.
“Your mood can effect your happiness”
So perfection does exist. Yes, if you are talking about the beautiful things in life I think perfection does exist. The universe can not be not perfect. Everything is balanced and everything in the universe is connected. So we are all one. We are all depending on the sun, the earth, the moon. Water. Water is the most important element. Nothing shows this connection better than water and the influence the moon has on water. We are 80% water influenced by the moon. So we are part of this one perfect universe, but still no human is perfect. Everybody is different and everybody has there own imperfections. That’s the balance in life. But I think these imperfections makes things and people beautiful, unique.
But still, although the universe is perfect, it can depend on your mood if you think something is perfectly beautiful. Your mood can affect your judgement and the way you look at things. Your mood can affect your happiness.
The first day at the Maldives I didn’t really feel myself and happy. I had travelled for more than 30 hours and I already missed everybody and everything in Holland. Saying goodbye made me feel sad and lonely. And then I came to this perfect Island, with this horrible perfect white sand and to make it worse, they carried my bag and they gave me a wet towel to clean me up and this big glass of this sweet fresh juice so I would feel welcome and stuff. So I asked myself, if I could find the beauty of imperfection here. Luckily but also unfortunately I did, a couple of days later. And since then, I see it everywhere.
“It was beautiful and disgusting at the same time”
The first day on the island Guraidhoo I walked around the island to explore, and I discovered my guesthouse was as good as on the beach. At first this felt special, but after some time I discovered this was such a small island that everything was as good as on the beach. It suddenly didn’t feel so special anymore. As I walked around the island on the beach there it was. This island has 95% local people and the beaches were not cleaned by the prisoners in the early morning like it happens on Maafushi, the island I was before. There is no policy of where you put your waste, trash and plastic, so people just dump it, or burn it in the open air. So what I found were trees who were stranded on the beach with colorful fabric trapped in the roots. It looked like art, it was beautiful and disgusting at the same time. I kept on walking and suddenly I saw this huge fruit-bat entering the island and took his place in a palm tree. Bats are associated with evil, death and darkness, but this bet looked more like a flying puppy dog with big black wings, hanging upside down in a palm tree. After observing this evil, cute creature for a while it started to rain. I could’ve known, because the heavy dark clouds almost never lie, but I was not thinking about the consciences of a tropical rain, until it happened. The clouds opened up and I got a free, warm rain shower. It was really nice! Yes, the rain was nice, another contradiction? I walked back to my guesthouse soaked to the bone when I noticed the nice colors of the cottages. They were all painted in pastels, but living on the beach pays its price, so you can imagine what the salty sea wind does to the not so good builded cottages. They are hold together with rusty corrugated iron. But still, they looked perfectly beautiful imperfect. I had so much fun looking for this beautiful contradictions, I decided to make it my new hobby to notice them. I can tell you one thing, that’s not really hard here in India, land of contradictions.
For me, happiness lies in the small beautiful things in life. I call them happy little things. After my stay at tree local Islands in the Maldives, Maafushi, Guraidhoo and Hulhumale I started a new adventure on a quite bigger tropical Island, Sri Lanka. I fell in love again, and I found a lot of little happy things there. When I arrived with the taxi at the place I was staying, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I asked the friendly taxi-driver, are we in the right place? Are you sure? But he was gone before I blinked my eyes. Later I figured out why. He made me pay for the tollways which was included in the price, but this naïve tourist was easy to foul.
I was standing in front of this beautiful white villa, with an enormous garden around and I lost my breath for a minute. There was this pretty, friendly dog coming towards me and give me a welcome hello. She had one ear up and one down because of a (stray dog-)cut in one ear and this made her even more cute. After this one minute I started running inside, with the dog, who’s name is Bo, behind me. Because there was a high need for a bathroom.
The taxi-driver was so nice to give me a king-coconut on the way, because they are famous in Sri Lanka and I really should try one. It was a nice gesture and I love coconuts (I am a little coco-nuts), so why not, but my bladder was almost exploding and if you drive through Sri Lanka it’s not really over floated with public toilets. I think I was never so happy in my life to see a toilet. I felt good. Even after getting up early and traveling I felt happy and I felt blessed when I discovered how beautiful my new home was for the upcoming 14 days. On the Maldives I moved every couple days to a new island, so it didn’t really made sense to unpack my bag. So I was more then happy to unpack and put my clothes in the beautiful cabinet in my stylish furnished bedroom.
“I knew yoga was going to help me on my journey, mentally and physically”
A couple of days later I was writing about happy little things. I was sitting at a table next to the dining room with a nice view in the amazing garden. I had a nice cup of tea and some fruits to nibble. The fan blew a cool breeze on my warm face while I was writing and I tried to ignore the flies tickling on my back. When I looked outside I saw Lola the ‘house cow’. She was chewing on some grass while she was chilling in the sun, it looked so peaceful. She is very sweet, but a little shy. It is such a nice and relaxing sight. Suddenly Prince, the Doberman who acts like a horny cat, walked in the dining room where I was sitting, came to me, and licked my salty armpit. It’s a friendly dog and we became good friends during my stay. He gave me his backside so I could scratch it, but when I didn’t answer it, he licked me on the cheek and he lied down on my feet. To complete the package of happy little things, I heard the sound of the ocean combined with the songs of lot of different birds in the garden. The fresh ocean breeze, combined with the smell of the beautiful white flowers of the frangipani trees. But most of all, what makes this moment so perfect, was that there was nothing in the world I had to do. There were no expectations from anyone and I had all the time in the world.
In Sri Lanka I was doing yoga twice a day, fist thing in the morning and just before diner. Before I started I knew this was going to do something to me. This was going to help me on this journey, physically and mentally. And so it did. The first day, after 20 minutes something hit me. My body was not flexible enough, I’m not fit enough, I had to prepare more in order to make it perfect. I’m not perfect! I was struggling with my thoughts, while my body was protesting. I was making excuses for myself, I was looking at the rest en felt even worse. From that day I stopped comparing myself to others and started to compare myself to myself. Myself today with myself yesterday, or before and after yoga-therapy I learned from my dear friend and yoga-teacher Ako. This was a big step for me, to get a long with my perfectionism.
Now I am in India, working as a horse riding instructor in Chennai at the Chennai Equitation Centre. This place is lovely and it’s very nice to work with horses again. A couple of days back my friend from Holland asked me what my best experience or memory is so far. The first thing that came up in my mind were all the animals I met. Off corse I meet a lot of people, but I am really an animals person and I’m always looking for the company of animals. So this must be a dream job, you can think. And yes, I love it, but it’s also a big confrontation with myself. Every horse is different and every horse is like a mirror. I figured it’s a bit different to ride a Thoroughbred from what I’m used to. Most of them are ex-racing horses but that doesn’t always mean they are very fast. Luckily I have a good connection with most of the horses I ride, but not with all of them. And each day can be different, depending on my mood, or the mood of the horse, depending on the rider the day before, depending on the horse I road before, depending on how sore my muscles are. So every day is a test for me. And it’s impossible to ride four horses a day perfectly. So there we are again. We are training now for an upcoming competition and this makes me quite nervous. The students are doing great and I think I’m doing a good job coaching them, but because I’m the trainer, I want to give the perfect example. I tell them what to do, but I’m not sure if I can do it the way I supposed to. So I talked to my mom the other day and told her this was bothering me. This is what she said. ‘The best athletes in the world, are trained by people who can never accomplish what they do. They are the best in coaching and training, but not the best athletes.’ So I don’t have to ride a perfect test in order to be a good coach. This took off the pressure and I feel a lot better now. I think I’m not the best dressage rider and not the best show-jumper in the world, but I know what I’m doing and I think I ride the horses in an honest way to improve them for the students and the competitions. So in that way I’m perfect with my imperfections.
What is perfection? Perfection is the point where it can’t get any better. Perfection is pure love and pure support. Every choice you make in life, every step you take helps you, supports you, makes you who you are and brings you where you need to go. So you make choices in your life for yourself out of love. Love for life, live for the experience, love for yourself. But if there is a moment you make a decision and you’re not completely convinced, so it’s not completely out of love, you don’t see it clear anymore. It becomes blurry, and you can feel insecure or confused. You are confused because we often think that there are experiences we have to have, or you suppose to think, feel or do something, because society says so. Like finishing studies, having a good job, work hard, buy a house and a family car, have kids, put them in daycare so you can make your career more successful. Or you make decisions because people expect it from you, or you think people expect it from you. It’s that simple, and it’s okay! It’s something we have learned to do, we are used to it. I don’t say that you have to change it, or change yourself. You are perfect with your imperfections. What I’m learning to do now, is trying to see everything clear. So I don’t want to see it blurry, or be confused about the choices I make anymore. I want to make every choice fully out of love. Love for life, the experience and love for myself. In order to do this I have to trust. Trust that the universe will support me completely. Trust myself, my guts, my strength. It takes just a little courage.
Realizing this is one thing, but doing it is the second. I’ve never been good in making decisions. I’m always struggling with the fact that my subconscious wants to please everybody in order to be loved. I want people to like me. Not just people, but every person, everybody. You can see it as something bad, but I don’t see it that way. It’s only bad when I place myself at the second place, or forget my needs. I think everybody wants to feel loved and needed, in a way, but some people are sooner satisfied than others. So when it comes to making decisions, this can be very difficult for me, because it’s simply impossible to make everybody happy. So now I’m discovering how to make decisions fully from my own perspective, fully from my own love.
Still I want people to like me, to look at me and say or think, ‘damn, she is doing a good job!’ Or ‘She is a really nice person’ or ‘she must be successful’. I recently discovered that sometimes I’m trying so hard to get this kind of reaction/attention from someone, I’m literally screaming for it. ‘Look at me, look how good I am!’ But if I think about it, this is not what makes me happy. It helps to make me feel good about myself, but happiness is a whole different energy. So why do I do it?
A couple of weeks back I was in Singapore. Yes, backpacking in Singapore, why not? As I walked through the big, beautiful cosmopolitain, on my way to have lunch with my friend Marcel, who gave me a welcome stay at his home, I felt like I didn’t fit in. I felt a big pressure in this city. Everybody looked successful, like they had made it in their career. The women were dressed like me when I was working at the bank. Which is funny, because I was one of the few women who were dressed like that. I’m talking about beautiful well fitted dresses, high heels, perfectly styled hair, nice handbags and the right amount of make-up. It was nice to look at, but I felt really out of place with my baggy jeans-short, surf brand t-shirts, flip flops and no make-up. I wanted to say that I could look like that, I can fit in. But suddenly I realized I didn’t care what the people might think. I’m here on a holiday, I don’t have to work. I don’t have to feel the stress and the burden. This is not my emotion! So from that time I just enjoyed the nice dresses and high heel-parade. When I was early for lunch I just sat down in the park in front of Marcel’s office and looked. Watched the people rushing by and just enjoyed it like it was a runway-show. Without judging, just enjoying and imagine what kind of jobs they have and what they will eat for lunch and what time they have to get out of bed every morning. Wonder if they are happy, with earning a lot of money, living in this city. Will they have similar happy little things like me? Or maybe these things are drinking champaign on the rooftop of one of the skyscrapers, watching the sunset. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. We are all unique individuals, perfect with our own imperfections. But individual actually means your part of something bigger. We are all one, in this big perfect universe.