For Better or For Worse

For Better or For Worse
Gili Air, Indonesia

Gili Air, Indonesia

When in the earliest and most exciting stages of love, life is rose-coloured. We see no flaw in this incredible person; only goodness and light. We can`t imagine how he or she could still be on the market – how someone couldn’t have snapped him or her up ages ago. We marvel at our good fortune. The attraction is pure and absolute. We are high.

Of course we know and ultimately discover the truth at some point – that no human on this earth is perfect.

My love for close to 2 years now has been the island of Gili Air. I take and display to you photos of its pristine beaches, groves of swaying coconut trees, stunning sunrises and sets and warm, smiling inhabitants. I tell you how wonderful it is.

If Gili Air seems like a perfect paradise to you, it is because this is the side of the island that I have opted to show you. I avoid exposing its flaws to you because it is uncomfortable for me to accept them myself. Once we admit our love is not perfect, we have to face it.

I don’t photograph the garbage scattered across the island – the fluttering tatters of flotsam and jetsam that snag in the bramble, discarded remnants of the packaged, sugary snack foods the children on the island now consume daily; I don’t tell you about the relentless erosion of the beaches and shoreline, caused in large part by decades of boat anchoring that has destroyed most of the low reef coral around the island, coral that forms a natural sea wall to soften the force of the waves and the tide; I don’t reveal to you the lack of foresight and planning in regard to the holes in the ground that serve as septic tanks, which will eventually overflow, seeping toxic grey water that will contaminate both land and sea. I don’t mention the gossip and the double talk and the back stabbing that goes on amongst the villagers (and foreigners) on a tiny island with no newspaper and nothing to do. The list of all that is wrong is long, and it can get depressing.

My love is far from perfect. But as with any relationship, we must make a choice. When the rose-coloured glasses come off, we decide if we can not only accept the flaws that are in front of us, but learn to embrace them right along with all of the glowing qualities. If our love is true then we must love fully and completely and without exception. Take the bad with the good.

It is at this stage that I find myself now, teetering on an emotional precipice as the list of issues with my patch of paradise grows.

But at the end of the day, as I gaze in awe at yet another perfect sunset over turquoise seas against a lush, mountainous backdrop, I think I care deeply enough for this place to stick around for the long haul. The island is not at fault for what it endures and there is tremendous opportunity to try and instigate positive change here. We all need a helping hand now and then.

I still love you, Gili Air. Warts and all.

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