At the end of November last year I went to a gala event in Melbourne. Standing in the gin and tonic haze of a late night bar, I chatted with some of my favourite bloggers. I was asked a question that I am often asked and I always answer the same way. Whenever I mention that I lived in a tiny village in Indonesia for three years, people always ask me, ‘what were you doing there?’ I always answer it with a throw away response. I answer ‘oh you know, traveled, got married, had a baby…’ and leave it at that. And whilst I did do those things, that’s not at all why I was there.
And it’s not at all what took me there in the first place.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau
What was I doing in Indonesia?
I was learning language and learning new skills. I was becoming humbled. I was living surrounded by great poverty and great community. I was standing barefoot in rice fields, learning how to harvest crop. I was surfing on reef and black sand beach. I was incubating the most beautiful friendship and later mourning the tragic death of the same friend…. I was growing up. I was learning about a religion that is so often feared in our western world, and with that I learned lessons about belief and love and acceptance that I had never been taught anywhere else.
I was learning about what it is to live with simplicity without consumerism and technology, without competition and commercialism, without television and without luxuries.
I was living amongst some of the poorest and happiest people in the world. And yes, I fell in love, and got pregnant, and got married in a little Islamic service in a foreign language in a foreign world without my family, with a little baby in my belly… I was grabbing life with both hands and living the hell out of it.
I was living deliberately.
We welcome 2014 this year with the same fierce determination I had when I moved from inner city Melbourne to that tiny village on the coast of South-West Java all those years ago. A determination to live a deliberate life. A determination to learn and to challenge myself and not just to float through this life with all it’s wishlists and nick knacks and ease and privilege.
But to do something more.
This year I’m embarking on a great personal project. One that has already began and that will be ready to launch in this space next week. One that will take me back to an element of the beautiful and challenging life I lived in that little sun-bleached village, whilst also moving forward… One in which I live deliberately again. One in which I aim to experience again, the essential facts of life… and to warn of that niggling fear that always creeps in… a little voice that whispers to me… ‘am I doing enough?’
What is life, if not lived deliberately?