Well, here we are. We’ve been on the ground a little over a week now and, two houses in, dare I say we might be adjusting to what we have bitten off.
I am Ariel. I have been known by many titles but this year, 2017, finds me pushing the edge of each of those names and redefining who I choose to be. Last year took my breath away in both a positive and negative connotation. I made and solidified friendships that I would have never in my history been able to identify or embrace. I came to the realization that I was still carrying the hurt and anger that I had previously believed I had sloughed. I was able to take inventory of the walls that had become common place in my daily routine and lay down the burden because of an indefinite amount of love and accountability from so many of you beautiful people in my life. Because of this unconditional love and acceptance I was able to spend 2016; healing, building and for the first time in a long time I was able to just lean into being me when it called on the wind.
At the end of 2015 when happenstance found my little tripod in Texas a whim would see us into purchasing a home. I wasn’t sure then what brought me to Texas and I can’t stand with a hundred percent conviction currently and tell you that I know that reason now. I was in my California real estate purchase for almost a year to the day. Then I was in the Texas purchase for almost the exact equivalent. I made story worthy friendships in both locations that will last a life time but with those relationships out of the picture neither of those moves have any clarity of purpose for me. For this reason I am attributing the most beautiful things of my life, my relationships, to the most self defining year of my life, 2016.
But now, now it’s time to take the self actualization and put it to good use. This year, 2017, will find me embracing my freedom and purpose. I want to be the hands and feet. I want to reach people. I want to bring my contagious and notably excessive love to the far reaches of the world and embrace my mantra, “don’t talk about it, be about it.”
My core has always stayed true. I am a woman of mercy and love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love.” I have often felt as though my compassion and abundance of love was a curse. But through this last year I have witnessed the effect that it has had on others and more importantly the effect that it continues to have on me. My desire has always been to use that love to “save them all.” Recently, very recently, the veil seems to have been lifted. I still need to share the love. I want to embrace uninhibitedly and unequivocally anyone and everyone that is willing to receive the love that I have to share. I want to reach. I want to teach.
This New Year, January 2017, found me in Indonesia beginning my journey of an undetermined amount of time reaching the seeking. I watched the fireworks exploding without rule or authority over a soccer-field surrounded by my newest definition of community. In Bali the people live as one. Their community truly is a networked one. Every home in connected by waist high walls so that when you need to run out to the market you just holler over the wall and request your neighbor watch the children. Leaving town? Not a problem. Your neighbor will watch the house inadvertently and with pleasure. Throwing a party? Expect the entire village in attendance but not to worry because they can see you preparing over the hip-high walls and will join you with joyous hearts for the preparation otherwise risk becoming social pariahs and never having an invitation to another event in the village! They stick together here. Marital strife? Your neighbors know. But they will offer an offering on your behalf as part of their twice DAILY ritual of handmade living offerings. Want to be a wife? Start practicing the fashioning of your offerings now as there will be a test by your potential father in law and perspective husband. Inability to create a masterpiece displays your lack of preparedness to be a wife. They believe in balance. There is always a good for the bad and a passion for the boredom working in unison. A fluidity. The island works in song believing that all pieces of the island are like a human body. The homes have multiple separated quarters. There is a living quarters to the east for the most senior. The south holds the lodging quarters for the 2nd generation. The west houses the most juvenile of the family and to the north is the families’ temple. Only the family has access to this temple as they believe that it needs to be cleansed of the evil that the people carry in daily. The center is a common space for the multiple ceremonies that they enjoy yearly. The kitchen is communal… to an extent. The children are welcome to wander any kitchen in the village and eat anything they would like. Every kitchen has a fresh pot of rice made first thing in the morning that will last all day and for every meal. But, the woman will NEVER share a kitchen as it is believed that this is what creates “danger of death.” As extreme as this may seem it isn’t that large of an issue as woman only cook one protein a day and every other meal is a combination of rice and fruit or rice and vegetable. When the day is done and there is remaining rice in the kitchen it is given to the cats and dogs in the street. Cats are considered good luck and never executed but dogs are, devastatingly in my humble opinion, a useless nuisance and therefore euthanized often.
As I walk through the streets and observe the villages I am struck by the love and care these people display for one another, and to everyone for that matter.Strangers stop to offer us scooter rides and to carry our things on their scooters to our home. The shoe-less toddlers roam the streets safely accounted for by their neighbors. The grade-school children being scolded by elders as they whiz by one another on scooters. I am taken aback by the unison and concurrency of the people here.
I ventured out for a downhill mountain bike adventure with my love the other day and we came upon a rice harvest. I was offered to partake in harvesting the rice and never one to turn down an experience of course I accepted the invitation. I took the stalk firmly in my hand and beat it just three times against the steel drum. The grains flew up into the air and landed on my arms like a tiny army of dust mites. I itched like I had spent a week in the grass. I looked up at the six sun-withered and hunched woman in the field next to me. I couldn’t help but be struck with the modesty of the facts. These woman spend 13 hours a day in this field; ripping up the roots of the stalk, sheering the base of the stalk with a sickle and smacking rice stalks on an impossibly hot metal barrel. All of this to “finish” the task at hand and move the rice grains up the street to spread flat for sun drying. This, the beginning of their literally back-breaking lifetime labor. I would have cried but for what purpose? How selfish could I be. Instead I stood humbled and aware. Aware of it all. All the abundance. All the blessings. From my generation to my foothold. Just awe-inspired meekness in the reality of the grace I do not deserve.
I wish diffidence was contagious because I travel with 2 of the cutest kids this world has ever had the privilege of receiving but truth be told the actualities of their stature are still sailing well above their heads. I have them act in service. Working at churches, scrubbing bathrooms and squat potties, working with homeless and serving the animals of the community but that still hasn’t seemed to root into them the depths of the favor that has enveloped us. The other night at dinner my daughter was brought to tears by the fact that her LED shoes hadn’t charged. That meltdown was followed by my son’s tearful woes of a tablet restriction. As I pulled them to the side of the street to talk it through my heart was yanked across the street to the woman and her child sleeping on the street. I reminded the kids that we are the 1 percent of the 1 percent. I had them bring her any money that they had remaining from the souvenir money in their wallets. I wish I could say that this had been enough. I wish I could report that this action broke through the barriers and melted hearts but the truth of that matter is that they handed it to them with joy and reckless abandonment because they knew that there was more for them where that came from. I have work to do. But the fact that I am in a position to NEED to teach this lesson and to HAVE the MULTIPLE opportunities to work on this lesson just plant in me even more ferociously how SPOILED we are and make me ache that much more to pay it forward. To love endlessly. To appreciate appropriately. To be a resource. I may just be starting this adventure but this will only be the beginning of what I can vow will now be my perpetual objective. I WILL embrace the love that I have received. I will help my children to recognize our immense blessings and crave the ability to spread that advantage the way that I do. I promise that if I have something to give I will give it; emotionally, fiscally, laboriously and in all facets of my life.
As usual I am looking forward to venturing forward with you. I am anxious to continue growing with and learning from YOU! YOU are a MASSIVE part of this journey. You have helped to bring me to this point. YOU have inspired me. YOU have loved me. YOU are a piece of this very experience. I bring you with me in all these things and remain VERY HUMBLY your happy conduit. THANK YOU! And cheers to 2017 the year of forward giving.