Indonesia 2014: Dealing with change

IMG_5075 I don’t know what this is supposed to be, but it doesn’t belong on Gili Air.

When speaking with friends undergoing sweeping changes in their lives—changes occurring either by choice or by force—I’ve frequently stated, “Change isn’t always easy, but it’s almost always good.”

Whether in reference to career, relationships, or whatever else, most of us have had to stare into the face at some point(s) in our lives with why change is hard: fear of the unknown, a desire to avoid of discomfort and uncertainty; wondering if we’re making a huge mistake(s), not knowing what will come next or who if anyone will stick by us through it all, and ultimately who (or how) we’ll be when (and if!) we do come out the other side.

Due to some rather brazen choices I’ve made over the last few years, I consider myself to be somewhat brushed up on much of what can happen when we open the gates and invite Massive Change to get busy tromping its Godzilla-sized feet through our lives. It certainly hasn’t always been easy. But flash forward to today: I’m writing this from the balcony of a bamboo hut that is tucked into a coconut grove on a teeny tiny Indonesian island named Gili Air, where I also own a little patch of land; so despite (and really, because of) all the crazy change, I can say things have turned out pretty good.

I upheld the same state of mind each time one of my friends here on Gili Air would pre-warn me to brace myself for all the changes the island has undergone due to rampant tourism since I last visited two and a half years ago. “You won’t recognize it,” they’d say. “Change isn’t always easy, but it’s almost always good,” I’d tell myself.

But I’ve been here three days now and in that short time, Massive Change has fairly stomped my theory into oblivion. I won’t go into all the depressing details; for those of you who have never been here (which is certainly most of you) they wouldn’t mean anything anyway, and for the few who have, believe me when I tell you, you don’t want to know. Suffice it to say an endless tsunami of vacationers from far and wide has changed my former little island paradise into something different, and it’s not good. I should have braced myself like they told me to.

But rather than let it get me too far down, I’m choosing to shift my perspective and view it through a different lens. Sometimes change, like life, is what you make it. Sometimes we just have to scrounge around a little harder for the good.

I am well aware that the fact I can be here at all—ever—not to mention work and earn a little income at the same time, is no small set of miracles. The island is still as hot and tropical as ever, and I still awaken to roosters crowing and chickens scratching and frangipani blooms tumbling to the parched ground like gigantic, fragrant summer snowflakes. The mango trees are heavy with the world’s most delectable fruit, the sea is still the same impossible shades of blue-green it has always been, and Mount Rinjani makes a spellbinding show of releasing every morning’s sunrise from behind her majestic peaks. Build all the bars and bungalows you want, but these things will never change.

Sometimes change is about taking the bad with the good, and making a conscious choice to focus on the good.

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