My Paradise Might Not Be Picture Perfect But It's Mine


Imagine waking up every day to a beautiful sunrise on a tropical island. There is an abundance of everything you could need. Amazing people, great food and beautiful beaches. There you are, in a small bay where a cold day is 25 degrees.

You've lived there a while now. The locals are an extension of your family. You get to meet some of the most beautiful souls roaming this planet. Everything is free in exchange for a few hours of work in a bar. You rise with the sun and sleep with the moon. Living moment to moment. You have learned the time is always now.

The social media looks perfect. It's a picture-perfect life. The thing about life though is that it’s much more than pictures of perfect moments.

There is another side to paradise.

Sometimes you wake up in the most stunning way imaginable; the sun leaking through the bamboo walls of the room you sleep in. Then you catch yourself in a panic. What day is it? Have I missed something important? You want to check your phone to see but there hasn't been service for days. Even if there was service your phone is almost dead because you couldn't charge it last night. There is only electricity available via solar power during day light. It's a beautiful way to live but sometimes it doesn’t work for you.

You walk out to the hustle and bustle of the bar; backpackers need their coffee and tea. Usually since there are no real walls to block out light everyone wakes up with the sun. Also, there’s the rooster, and he makes sure everyone wakes up bright and early.

Travelers are talking excitedly about what they did yesterday and what they will do today. Triggering stories from all the adventures they've had so far. It really is a lovely thing to hear. Until people start asking for their bills and packing their bags. You suddenly feel the fact that this is just one stop. Sometimes a quick stop, sometimes a long stop but a stop none the less on a journey that is inevitably going to move forward without you. And those emotions always hit you hard.

The amount of heartbreak you learn to handle is more than you ever thought you could bear. Those beautiful souls roaming the planet... they leave. You should be happy because you got to meet them and know that surely, they will go on and show other people what they have shown you. You’ve seen so many new ways of life, love, friendship, art, the list could go on forever. What you’ve learned from the amazing humans that leave this island will never be forgotten.

When the time for the boat to leave comes, you wish you could throw anything that tells time into the ocean and tell everyone the boat is broken. The boat isn't broken, the people who have felt like family get on the board and you don't. They move forward and you stay in the now. They go off together and you stay in paradise knowing that there is only a small chance that you will ever encounter those people again.

You only show people the sun and the beautiful rise of a new day but that’s also part of the picture-perfect life. Not the whole life. Sometimes it rains. It's not a spring drizzle. Imagine rain that sinks structures in the mud. Rain that makes the air so moist for so long that even your hanging clothes get moldy. Rain that, yes, you love to dance in but you know if you get soaked you won't dry until it stops, which could be weeks.

Here in paradise sickness still exists. Both physical and mental. In those rainy times you are still susceptible to get sad for no reason. Now imagine you're home country where the majority of your friends and family are. You feel that darkness sneaking in. Maybe they see it, or maybe you reach out to them. The lucky thing is support surrounds you and you are pulled out of the darkness. In paradise if you are lucky, you have one person of your support web with you. One soul to attempt to keep you away from anything bad. That is a hard job for just one man. You get sad and they get mad and here you are alone, together in paradise.

As for physical sickness, every flu your first thought is dengue or malaria. Every cut and bug bite could turn into a flesh-eating infection. You’re luckily prepared for most of these things but in the first days of sickness when you're lying in a hammock freezing cold for the first time in months you keep thinking. Do I wait to go to a doctor? What if I wait too long? What if I have to go home?

In paradise there are, of course, pets. You get lucky enough to have dogs that turn anyone they meet into a dog person. Every person who meets them can't help but love them and you get to call them yours. But the thing about paradise is that for sweet beautiful human loving dogs it's dangerous. There are snakes, wild dogs and insects that don't care how loved they are. The same way that in other places there are cars, animals, cruelty and natural causes that don't care. And there is some illness that just can't be beat. This unfortunately is the case everywhere in the world. So, even in paradise loss exists.

When it comes down to it I guess all I'm saying is that living in a beautiful place doesn’t make life easier or simpler. We are still living. Both amazing and terrible things are still happening to us. We are living in paradise, yes. The world is still spinning while we sometimes feel like we're caught in a time warp. Life is life and it is happening to all of us. And honestly, despite all things I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jordan Olson1 Comment