Lessons from my mosquito bites

An essay on gratitude

This is not some hippie feel-good exposé on how I love everyone and you should feel grateful for what you have. No. Since that wouldn’t be very helpful to most people. What I aim to accomplish, is a more practical approach in setting yourself up to feel more grateful.

It’s almost a hack on your brain to get you feeling like the luckiest guy ever! And you can do this in 72 hours or less. For me, it took 3 days and 2 nights on a humid, diesel-fumed, salty boat sputtering around the remote islands of Komodo National Park in the Indonesian archipelago. My experiences included:

  • No showers in 100% humidity
  • No running clean waters
  • Tons of insects
Komodo National Park, Indonesia

Let me sum it up here. Although I saw beautiful scenery, wild and crazy animals, it didn’t mask the fact that I was used to a certain level of comfort. The nights were long and the uncontrollable itch from mosquito bites became open wounds as I helplessly scratched them. I remember that feeling; the feeling of being “trapped” and just wanting to return to my mundane life. I thought about air conditioning, watching the Warriors play basketball and Blue Bottle coffee. I remembered this feeling as I ascended the steps of the Himalayas and although now I am at sea level, this anguish and anxiety was just the same.

For those of you that have thought about duality, you can skip to the next paragraph. For those needing a refresher, here it is: To feel fullness, you must have experienced hunger. To know something is to imply that at one point you did not know that something. To have life is to have death. Or rather, death implies life.

Here it is — If you want to feel gratitude for something or someone. You must take routine breaks from the convenience of life, loved ones, and simply go be silent with yourself.

My story aligns with the age-old struggle between Light & Darkness. Good & Evil. The Yin and the Yang. In our case, what I want to offer advise in walking the balancing act of living the koyaanisqatsi of modern life & the dangers of stepping too deep Into the Wild.

Too much of living within the confines of society, we end up trying to win the rat race. The best depiction of this comes from the Francis Copla film, Koyaanisqatsi. We are all too familiar with this struggle, the “i need to take vacation” mentality.

Yet, too much downtime, we grow restless and aimless. Or if we completely dive off the deep end and up becoming the “Grizzly Man” who has disavowed connection to the rest of humanity.

Balance is the key. In a society where we worship stars and heroes, I urge you to find well-being in balance.

The best advice related to balance came from an Uber driver. And it really did resonate with me. He said “just once a week, spend a whole day outside”. “Go alone. Don’t take your phone. Don’t eat too much. Just go!”. And it’s miraculous how simply stepping outside of the norm for 1 day can do for you.

Finally, as I am typing on this Macbook. With so many ideals to pursue with a few clicking of the fingers. Sitting on the 19th Floor of a modern Apartment in Jakarta, pondering on my flight back to the Bay Area. I’ve got plans when I’m back in the Bay. Yet I knew, if I just sat at the Dock of that Bay, I wouldn’t know just how damn lucky I am.

For you — pick something you think you can’t without, and let it go…just for a while. The act of knowing you’ve lived without it — means you’re free.