A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart
– Johann Von Goethe
I have a friend. My friend’s name is Apel.
He is the gardener of the villa where I live in Ubud, Bali. He is the most remarkable and kindhearted person I have ever met. His smile lights up my whole day and his generous nature is beyond measure.
We come from very different backgrounds Apel and I. I grew up in the West (Australia) as a female with a good education more freedom and choices then I know what to do with. Apel grew up in the East (Indonesia) with little education and his whole life laid out in front of him.
Whenever I spend time with Apel I walk away feeling like I have just been handed a golden key, a secret insight in to the mysteries and wonders of the universe. Seeing the world through his eyes makes me believe in magic again and ignites my inner positivity like no other.
Once when my husband was out on a boat in the Mentawi Islands surfing with all his friends I was back in Bali and we were warned of an earthquake that had hit Indonesia, everywhere was on tsunami alert. This earthquake had hit in exactly the same position of the earthquake that caused the 2004 tsunami, killing thousands of people and leaving millions injured and homeless. The boat he was on was extremely close to the epicenter of the earthquake. I could not get a hold of the boat for all satellite connection was lost due to power outages across the Indonesian islands close by, there was absolutely no way for me to contact him or the boat. Needless to say I was terrified, anxiety and worry filled my bones.
As soon as Apel heard the warning he came to find me, I was panicking as I had just heard it myself.
He said, “Miss Kate, what do you call the thing that happens when big waves crash over the land and everybody dies?”
I replied, “It’s called a tsunami Apel”
“Yes Miss Kate; a Tsunami, that is where Pat is, his prayer for big wave come true” he said with the biggest smile I have ever seen on his face.
I broke down “but Apel, it is dangerous you do not understand he could die out there and I cannot contact him, this is not good”.
“No Miss Kate this is very good, he pray for big waves and all the God’s hear his prayer, if he dies, he dies happy. If it is his time to die now he die happy. This is very good” He had a grin from ear to ear as he was saying this.
Something inside me clicked, I immediately stepped out of panic mode and felt instantly calmer around Apel.
He continued, “If you die happy this means you have lived a good life. Do not worry Miss Kate your head make you sick, everything going to be ok, you just stay happy”.
Whilst the worry was obviously still there Apel’s kind words and seeing life through his eyes in that moment brought me peace. About 6 hours later I received a phone call from the boat, everyone was safe and they were completely oblivious to the whole alert having the time of their lives catching great waves.
Lessons learned from Apel:
1) Worrying does absolutely nothing to make a situation better, it only hurts and upsets you.
2) If I died today would I die happy? If not what do I have to change in my life to order to feel happy, content, peaceful and joyful?
3) Someone is always listening and your prayers are always being answered
4) Be careful what you wish for
And the lessons just kept on coming…
Another time in Bali I had a fall and snapped a major bone in my foot. I was in intense pain and completely frustrated by this ‘inconvenience’.
I was on crutches and hobbling around trying to get from A to B and trying not to let a broken foot slow me down. Apel saw me one day and came up to me “Miss Kate I think your body maybe want you to rest. When you listen to your body it take care of you, no more pain for you”.
He offered to take me to a local Balian (Balinese Medicine man) who heals broken bones.
When we rocked up the entire local village new that a crazy white girl had fallen and broken her foot and people were sitting around the little hut the healer was in waiting to get a glimpse. I hobbled in on my crutches through mud dodging chickens that were pecking around me with Apel at my side. The children were all laughing and whispering, I am certain they had never seen anyone on crutches before.
Apel sat with me and translated with the healer who cradled my broken foot in his hands. He did some adjustments, put some local herbal ointment on it, wrapped it up in bamboo and I was good to go.
Days with no improvement, the pain was not subsiding and my spirit was low.
When Apel came to check on me I shared this with him and he smiled at me “Miss Kate you are healer. What does your foot tell you? I think it tells you rest, to be kind to your heart, sleep and have sweet dreams”.
“How do you know it means that Apel?” I replied curious of his answer
“Look at it; it is purple and sad and broken. A part of you is sad and broken; you fix that part of you, your foot get better. You need to rest to lay still like grass and fix your broken parts”.
Being a type A and complete people pleaser he spoke the words of truth and I knew it.
I surrendered to my broken foot after his gentle nudge I was able to look at, acknowledge, feel and heal my “broken parts” and extract the wisdom from my emotional wounds which of course had nothing to do with my foot.
The time out was a complete blessing and I felt entirely grateful that I only had a broken foot to slow me down and redirect my focus and learn such important life lessons instead of something more sinister.
Lessons learned from Apel (and a broken foot):
1) Listen to the wisdom your body shares with you through its signs and symptoms before it turns in to a disease or trauma.
2) If the universe is giving you “time out” then take it!!
3) You are your own personal healer
4) Fix your broken parts (whatever they may be) for complete health and happiness on all levels
5) Putting yourself first is NOT selfish, it’s self-full. In other words, when you are happier, healthier and stronger everyone benefits.
6) Despite what you may think, the world will not fall apart or stop turning if you retreat, close the curtains and go to bed.
I will continue to learn and grow from this wonderful man and watch the world through his eyes to expand and brighten up my own lenses.
Apel (pronounced ‘apple’) has brought a whole knew meaning into my life of the old saying “an apple a day keeps the Doctor away”.