For years I had a recurring dream where I would live an entire day from start to finish with severely blurred vision. I would wake up to a cloud over my eyes, get out of bed, and go about my routine through the difficulty of haze. No matter how many times I would rub my eyes, nothing cleared. I knew that I was dreaming, but even then, there was nothing I could do to speed up the process of the fog. It was exhausting, defeating. Then suddenly I’d wake up, able to see color and shape in vivid form.
These dreams stopped once I entered college, but in a way, I started to actually live them. I lifted my eyelids each day but walked through the mundane, because I was unable to see my path or destination. I didn’t know what I wanted, and I couldn’t see how I fit into the world around me. I was walking blindly and moving aimlessly. I could only see my hands. I could only see what was in front of me, and that was the true hindrance.
I began to realize that I was walking in the same fog that had flooded my sleep. I knew that there was more, that there was something missing. I was tossing and turning, trying to wake up. This stirring was what brought me Indonesia. I wanted to open my eyes.
When I landed in Denpasar on October 11th, I had no idea what was ahead of me. All I knew was that I was going to be working for a philanthropic adventure marketing collective called Mercy Machines and that I would be focusing on all things communication. There were no titles, no planned projects, and very little understanding of the company itself; I was simply going off of the hour-long conversation I had had with a stranger ten days prior and clutching my one-way ticket. I continued on in a daze, focusing solely on the work that was piling on my to-do list, seeing only what my hands were touching: branding, copywriting, web development, PR, promotion, and creative direction.
Somewhere in the first few weeks, Bali shook me. Just when I was feeling comfortable, it took my shoulders and jolted me with enough force to startle a gasp-worthy awakening. It was then that I began to see the color. I saw my dreams, fears, and the sickening truth that I was living my life as half a person. This melting pot of artists, givers, and creators, screamed that I had been stifling myself and that I had been choosing to sleep.
In this clarity, I saw expatriates and locals creating what they had always wanted. I worked alongside people that purchased islands to build safe houses for children that were rescued from the sex trade, formed businesses out of the thought they had had the day before, stood for the youth in community and the creativity of all ages, left secure paychecks to fight for their passions, connected creatives in all fields, and refused to stop moving, growing, and experiencing. Everyone I met was building something, and they were helping shape others’ structures along the way.
My work with Mercy Machines brought me to this place, and it pushed me, stretched me, and taught me how to be a better communicator, but my learnings span far beyond this job.
Over the three months that I was living in Indonesia, I lost track of the number of times I heard the phrase, “Bali is magic.” Every place I went, each person I spoke with, I could hear it and feel it. I’m still not sure how to bring life to this explanation, but I know that it is something that yields kindness, patience, honesty, creativity, hope, encouragement, generosity, confidence, collaboration, simplicity, and happiness. Bali is a hub of movement; it is where things happen. People have dreams and they put them into action. No ones talks about what could be or what might have been, they talk about what will be and then it happens. It’s contagious; it radiates and overflows on everything, and it allows you to see what actually matters. This “magic” is embedded in the culture; it’s what wipes away the fog.
It made me see myself, fully, for the first time and recognize what I wanted out of life. It taught me to take everything in, and understand that I am the only one that can fight for my dreams. It helped me find my voice and stop shutting myself up, and it showed me that the only way to live is to open my eyes, listen, and make things happen.
I entered Bali a terrified apprentice, hiding behind a focus that masked my true passion, and encountered a paradigm shift that altered my vision. During the 80 days that I was there, I declared myself a writer and maker, and began forming a magazine that I had only dreamed of creating. I left with hope, happiness, excitement, and a promise to never stunt myself.
Bali changed my life.
Honestly, it saved it.