“Taxi?! Taxi?! Taxi?!” We didn’t even leave the bus yet or we were overwhelmed by all the taxi drivers trying to find a tourist who is willing to take a cab for way too much money. I looked to the woman next to me with big eyes and sighed. “Si…,” she said with rolling eyes, also looking forward to getting out of the bus and ran into the whole circus of ‘taxistas’. “Another thing that I don’t like about the city. The people can be so loud here,” she said. We’ve been talking about the lives in the city in comparison to the country and this was another difference between them; one of the conversations during my travels that made me think about the ways to live life.
The women on the bus was called Mauricia and she was indigenous, working at a finca -or land/farm- close to the border with Panama. She was talking about how happy she was at the finca with her family. Even though we were from so different worlds, the women and I were chatting for over half an hour on the bus; both interested in each other’s lives and talking about the ways you can live life. I got her number in case I wanted to pass by at the finca and work there a little bit: learn more about the land and what is growing on it. Because she may didn’t know anything about what is going on in Syria –since she doesn’t read or watch news- she knows nature. These meetings are one of the best things about traveling. The encounters you have during your travel can be so random and may be short, but it can be really inspiring and meaningful. It can also lead you to new insights or paths.
Mauricia really pointed out the different ways people can live life. She said that some people lost sight on life, because of all the technology and the urbanisation. And I can relate to that. I think you can say that there is a difference in mindset while living: you can live life with appreciation, love and optimism or you can forget what life is about and being negative about a lot of things. In a little black and white perspective: you can love life or hate it; being focused on the positive things or on the negative things in life. It’s about the way you think, rationalize and see the/your world. If you do it right, you’re loving your life because you are conscious about the choices you made that have lead to the way you live right now. You know that you have the control over your own life and so you make the best out of it. You’re focused on the positive things in life even though some things don’t go the way you wanted. Work may be tough and chaotic, you still won’t change it.
What you’re doing right now is making you happy, the people you’re surrounded by are making you happy, the place you live is making you happy.. You chose to work at an advertisement bureau, being in a relationship, living close to the city and it makes you happy.
Another way to live life is, going on with your life while actually kind of hating it. And maybe you’re not realizing it, because you’re not really living consciously. You don’t want to get out of bed for going to work, more then once a week. You’re really good at complaining about your colleagues, about the traffic, about the work that piles up, about the disgusting coffee, about your dog that needs a walk; you can really make your own life miserable -and I don’t get it. You chose for this life, no one else did. So if you created this life for yourself, why not enjoying it like crazy? Don’t focus on the negative, shitty things of everyday life. That is just self-torture.
And if you don’t like the way you’re living your life right now, change it. Simple as that. You hate your job? Go find something else. It may take you lots of time, a lot of rejections, but in the end you will get there. Not everything is supposed to be easy, that’s not what life is about. It’s about creating your life in a way that makes you enjoying and appreciating it every day. You’re complaining about the shitty weather everyday? Because you’re born in a rainy country doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live there the rest of your life. It’s all up to you where you live. Even though some situations seem unchangeable, because they have been like this for a long time or because you didn’t really chose for it.. It’s about detecting that you actually don’t want to be in this situation and realizing you can change it any moment. Those changes are for the good.
When I think about people who are really enjoying and appreciating life, I think about my day at a coffee farm and my time at the indigenous village in Panama. When I was in the mountains of Panama, I visited a farm where the farmer exploited all kinds of fruits, herbs and coffee. He had a big piece of land, knowing every little inch of it. He was working on this land since the 80’s and has been through a lot: drought, low coffee prices because of economic collapses and pests that destroyed his crops. He found a way to cope with all of this because he was doing the thing he loved. He found a way to live a happy life and he’s telling about it to people visiting the farm. He too has to do crappy stuff, but he won’t complain about it all the time. He stands behind his choices and focuses on the good parts of his work. He was one of the happiest men I’ve met. You can see it in his eyes, how he speaks and the smile that covers his face all the time. He may live in a crappy wooden house, has dirty hands all the time, but he can actually say he is happy. The same for the people I met in the indigenous village in Panama. They are pretty poor, don’t have the luxury to eat whatever whenever they want, mostly don’t have electricity, no internet, no cars.. But these people can smile. They have a simple life –what also can be hard- but they enjoy it. Living purely, close by nature. Being with their family most of the time and appreciating it. They’re seeing things in a bright perspective, and that is beautiful and inspiring to see.
This way of life in the countryside, how the women in the bus compared it to the way of life in ‘the city’, doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘in the countryside’. Living more consciously, with joy and happiness, focusing on the good stuff can also be done while not living on a kind of farm. I’m convinced that it is still easier to focus on the good stuff when you’re living in the country because the fact is that there are hardly any distractions, BUT I really think that you can change your mind set in any kind of situation or place, ‘City’ or countryside. What I said before, it’s all about how you perceive your life: focus on the good and positive or focus on the shitty things and negative.
That’s what I realized quite late, that I wasn’t happy during my second studies. I was only focused on getting that piece of paper so I could be ‘someone’ in life, ‘getting somewhere’. Complaining about homework, work, the weather.. I tried to change my mind set and be happy with the things I had, but I knew that I actually had to change some things to be in a situation where I could actually find happiness. I was wondering: is this it? Is this life? Of course I enjoyed things, but still.. I can’t compare it to how I’m feeling now. Now I can actually say that I created a life that I wanted for myself.
Can you say that you’re really loving your life right now?