How do you view growth? If you had to draw a graph of growth, how would it look? A steady incline? Up and down? I think deep down, when we are judging our own situations, we find it difficult to accept the declines as growth.
Let me tell you how Chinese bamboo grows.
The graph would not even begin for the first four years. But if you remain patient, and carry on watering this seed that seems fruitless, the bamboo will suddenly shoot up in the fifth year.
This was told to me in the context of meditation - when you feel you are making no progress, perhaps you are just preparing for the real growth to take place.
This can be applied to anything you do. If you persist in whatever you are doing, eventually it will grow.
I am sitting in a little hut as the tide leaves the shore and the sun prepares to set. Behind me is a bar, behind which is a very kind Indonesian man called Agung. He has long curly hair, wears a red SnapBack and plays Bob Marley through his computer.
There is a saying in the Indonesian language: “Sing Keng Ken”, which means “no worries”. I am particularly feeling that on this island, and think that Agung embodies this. Observing his way of life has made me reflect upon my own. Here is what I am learning from him:
Do what makes you happy, with confidence. My Indonesian inspiration often sings with his guitar for us; he is not the best singer, but he does it anyway because it makes him happy. He is not shy about it, and sits right in front of us, maintaining a lot of eye contact.
Bite your tongue and stay positive. Earlier today somebody complained about the food in Agung’s restaurant. He told us that nobody had ever complained about the food before, but that he didn’t respond with this, and chose to stay positive. This also makes me think of Gretchen Rubin, who explains in her book “The Happiness Project”, that expressing anger does not release it, but amplifies it.
Be friendly with everybody. Agung always seems happy to see people and greets them with a big smile and hello. This is so easy and has such a big effect on both your own mood, and that of the person you are greeting. It sets the tone for the rest of the conversation.
Don’t take things too seriously. I have a peanut allergy and Agung knows this stresses me out, so whenever he takes my order he makes a joke about it being with peanut sauce/oil which reminds me that he has not forgotten, without making a big deal of it. Maybe a sense of humour is the cure for the big worries in life..
Take care of people. Being carefree does not mean free of care for others… Since arriving here Agung has taken care of us and made sure we are okay.
Take your time. Being on Gili Air Island has made me realise how quickly I normally go. Slowing down for a few days has helped me to take in the present moment more fully, and to feel more relaxed in myself.
Maybe we could all learn some things from the way that Agung lives. I know I could! I will try to take these qualities with me even when I leave the island.
Remember, it is easy to be heavy, hard to be light…