Real Life: Our wounds are our wisdom

Armbe is a gorgeous smiling soul, good natured and soft spoken. We met her accidentally, and just like most unexpected encounters coordinated by the universe our connection was immediate. Apart from being a talented dress maker, Armbe has an incredible eye for the latest trends and a skill to sew stunning outfits in just minutes. She is also a walking music encyclopedia. She knows each and every guitar any rock musician has ever laid his hands on. From Prince to KISS, from The Rolling Stones to Metallica she has a musician’s mind which is the envy of most.

When we first visited her shop in Sanur, she asked me where we’re from and when I said Malta, she smiled. ‘You’re from an island in the Mediterranean’ she quickly answered with an infectious smile. She quickly explained, ‘I started to sew when I was just eight years old, yet in all my years on this earth geography has always fascinated me. I wanted to be like Robinson Crusoe you see, I also wanted to be a rock star, oh where has time gone?’ her eyes had a far off look, her smile was child-like and her wrinkles seemed to disappear like magic.

Her love for literature, art and people had lit a fire in her life, in her soul she was an adventurer, a traveler, an explorer and she used the power of her imagination to travel to any place in the world, no matter how near or far, without living her chair.

Life Lessons from Armbe

During my next visits Armbe shared her life story in great depth. She had a far from happy childhood, she experienced not one but two failed marriages and she had lost both her mother and daughter to cancer. She had hit rock bottom. Armbe has felt torturous pain, shattering grief, she has walked down rocky paths, climbed killer mountains yet surprisingly, her eyes still twinkle, her face lightens up whenever a new tourist decides to pop into her shop, her welcoming words are like a warm cup of soothing tea. She is the definition of happiness and wakes up each morning with a joyous heart and an inquisitive mind knowing that a new day brings new opportunities. She has a thirst to learn, to listen and to meet individuals who unexpectedly cross her path. Clearly Bali is Armbe’s home, yet the world is her classroom and she does not let even one chance to learn something new pass her by.

In my three and a half decades on this earth I have not yet met one person who can come close to being the extraordinary woman Armbe is. She’s a peaceful warrior, she’s a shining star, she’s a learner of life opening her heart to all that is thrown her way. She is not bitter, her grief has made her stronger, her pain has become her power and she continues to smile cheekily yet ever so lovingly at the universe knowing that she has the strength, determination and love to conquer anything that comes her way. She counts her blessings not her tragedies. The day before our departure Armbe came to visit us at our hotel, she hugged me lovingly and said ‘the universe works in mysterious ways, our meeting was not a coincidence, without knowing you where guided to my shop even though this was not your intended path. There is a reason and one day we might find out, or we might not, either way you are my dearest friend from the island of Malta and I will always treasure you in my heart’ — her words brought tears to my eyes because this sort of genuine love has become so rare to find. She had no expectations, she had no requests, in a few days in the breathtaking island of Bali a new friendship was born. Let’s be more like Armbe.

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