How Bali Became the Refuge I Didn't Even Know I Was Seeking

PART 3

BALI (INDONESIA) - Where I learned happiness can be a choice.

Like Julia Roberts, my third destination in this tri-city saga (the first two were Bangkok and Marrakech) was Bali -- a place that had long graced my list but only came to fruition in 2018.

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On our second day in Bali, our driver Ketut, took us into Ubud and through the local artisan villages. I watched the way the villagers greeted him. It was clear he was not just another driver, but an old friend. Each part of the village we went to was dedicated to a specific craft. And in each part, we were welcomed in and given a history of their trade. We learned the journey of how an apprentice becomes a master; and how skillset is passed generationally, rather than in trade schools.

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Watching the villagers exercise their craft, a more prominent lesson emerged -- that happiness can come with ease if you let it. It doesn’t live in materialistic things or lengthy resumes or another human. It lives within yourself. In many of the places I have been, the locals do not have grand lifestyles, yet it is clear they are incredibly happy with what they have. And in all honesty, it is I, who envy them.

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I have never had such a hard goodbye as I did when Ketut dropped us off at the airport. Never before had I been treated with such kindness as a foreigner and the kindest person of all was our driver (if you’re planning on coming to Bali, please book him @ketutdrivesbali). We spent an entire week -- 8 hours a day with this man who took us from place to place. That much time allows you into a person’s life. You get to know how they live, what they believe in, what they disagree with, what they dream about, and what makes them laugh. By the end of the week, he was no longer just our driver -- he was our friend; and it’s never easy saying goodbye to a friend.

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I started this trilogy confronted with a question: what do you do with your privilege? My own answer is: you recognize it and you share it. With each passing destination I cross, I strive not only to be seasoned traveler, but a conscientious one. I strive not only to go through life but to truly live it. And as an artist, I strive to share the stories of those I met who may never have the chance, the medium, or the platform to do so themselves.

If you missed it: PART 1 (BANGKOK) & PART 2 (MARRAKECH).