As our travels take us further from the familiar than we’ve ever encountered before, the overwhelmingly sense of gratitude that intensifies daily demands that I now stop for a moment and journal new and inspired epiphanies.
I am writing this from Fiji. From a little, remote island called Vanua Levu, located on the Rainbow Reef of Fiji. An approximate 60 min Twin prop flight from Nadi, followed by a60 minute car ride along a rubble, partly sealed dirt road. Flanked by palm trees and peppered with humble make shift homes of the locals I feel alive. More alive than I’ve felt in… well I cant remember in how long. My eldest daughter alongside me is quietly panicking that I’ve brought her somewhere “too underdeveloped”, and that the change will be too confronting, whilst my husband turns to me and questions, “how ever did you find this place”. Yes, it is very remote. There are no western 5 star resorts here, and no tourist crowds.
As I sit in the rear seat of a Hilux, our luggage jostled about in the rear open vehicle, and my youngest and I sharing 1 seat belt, somehow I’m ok with all of this. Unperturbed. We knew we’d find ourselves in unfamiliar situations we just couldn’t foretell what they’d be.
Mentally I knew the facts. That our destination was remote. That there was no cell phone reception in the Resort except for in the lobby. I knew that the Resort was run on generators and that it was off the grid. I knew that the locals live off the land, and our stay would reflect this. But what I did not anticipate was the way it would make me feel in reality.
There is none so unfamiliar as arriving by boat to the chorus of traditional vocals, melodious, harmonies, and hearing the Fijian spirit of life expressed through song ring out over the water as our boat reached the jetty. I understand that I have paid to be pandered to. I understand that this a part of the service for all guests, but despite what I see and know to be true, my heart recognises something else.
There is something to be said about song. About the way by which it connects where words fail. A universal language that unites the spirit. And as we arrived, our local hosts sing. They sing their song. And they sing it for us.
My heart is full. It overflows knowing that I am here by privilege. Long before I saw the locals walking along the road from church, and their off the grid homes, the animals that freely roam in the street and mongooses running across the road, I knew of my privilege. It is by grace that I and my family are here.
Grace; being undeserved merit or favour. Nothing I have done in my life warrants that my life should be more privileged than the next person. You see often in the west we think it is our position and jobs that have made us successful, but i think not. I am acutely aware,that if many of us living in the West were living, working or born in a developing country, doing exactly the same jobs that we are qualified and paid to do in Australia we would not have the same privileged life.
I find myself thinking about all the successful people I know back home, and realising that had they been born and lived in any number of developing countries doing exactly the same jobs that they do, how different their life would be.
A teacher in Australia vs. a teacher in Africa.
An IT professional versus an IT professional in India.
A childcare worker in Australia versus a childcare worker in Vietnam.
I think you get the picture.
And thereby my heart overflows with the réalisation that it is the power of my passport that opens doors of opportunity. A citizen of Australia, where I have been granted access to quality education, jobs, and opportunities is what has led me to lie here in pure comfort and idyllic beauty.
I can’t breath easily as I write this knowing that I have more than the next person, but I don’t deserve it. I see beauty all around me. I hear beauty in the trees that have a melody of their own. I feel the wind off the ocean, less than 250 meteres away from my villa where I lie on all white linens, and a citronella torch burns, outside my window as dusk begins to fall.
There is magic and music and marvel to be had if we just stop.
So we’re dropping anchor at the Remote Island Resort, where creation is not only medicinal but a baptism. I feel whole. I feel broken for the better. I feel full.