Do what makes you come alive: #uhanejourney

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

Hi there,
This is one of the stories of my life; that I spend hours, days (sometimes even weeks) to write/create something and just before I use it for it’s intended purpose I get this sudden urge to change it all completely. I take a fraction of that time to create something completely different and use that instead. It usually happens when there is this feeling of “something is missing” with the first version, but I cannot explain what it is.

I remember that this happened a number of times when I used to facilitate sessions at conferences. I would spend hours in the weeks running up to conference to design a session. The morning that the session would have to be delivered, I would sometimes wake up with this crazy idea. Within less than an hour I would then often completely redesign the session. This meant that most of the original design would be thrown out.

This is basically what happened to the blogpost you are reading now. I spent the past two days writing bits and pieces of a blogpost for week three. I got home in the evening, practically finished writing. I felt something was missing however and was too sleepy to figure it out. Instead of putting the piece I wrote online, I decided to take a ‘powernap’. The plan was to take another look after a 30min nap. I woke up 2 hours later. I went into the kitchen to make myself some tea, to drink while re-reading the post. All of a sudden I had this rush of inspiration, ran back to my computer (not really though, just a figure of speech. I walked a slow 2.30am walk really) and started typing this whole new piece.

Coincidentally not so coincidentally, this is connected to what I would like to share with you this week. Doing things from this place that makes no sense with your head. It just feels right. Here’s the story.

There’s this Warung in Ubud that I’m absolutely in love with! It’s in a side-street of one of the main streets of Ubud Centre (for those who know the city: a side-street of Money Forest Road). We discovered it one day when we were hungry. Most other restaurants were closed, so we asked a Balinese gentleman standing in front of a bar if he knew any good place that was still open. “Warung Oplet” he said. He told us how to get there and added “if you can’t find it, just ask any local and they will know”. We found it eventually and the food… Oh my God… Oh lorddd! The foodddd! (Side-note: I have an immense intense fiery passion for good tasting food. To the extend that I can feel butterflies in my stomach and talk about the food for days. Sometimes weeks. I’m weird like that). Even though the food is AMAZING and I can still (about two months later) talk about it like it’s the first time I tasted it, it was not the only thing that gave the place it’s charm. The owner is a really cool, friendly and humble gentleman. We spent a couple of hours there eating and taking to him. He made us feel so at home at the Warung, that I kept going back there even after my friend left. Now he’s become a friend (plus I’m in love with the food they cook), so I spend a couple of days a week going there.

A couple of days back I was there again. The plan was to drop by for 5minutes and say hi. I ended up staying a couple of hours talking to my friend (the owner of the Warung) and his friend. I introduced myself to his friend and he answered “I know you already, but we were not yet introduced”. He turned out to be the (lead) electric-guitarist of a local band that I’d seen play twice before. I remembered how I really enjoyed their music. At a certain point in our conversation they started telling me about this concept. The reason why music or other art-forms can transcend language. Why it can tap into your emotions or a deeper part of your being. Why a piece of music can make you cry for example. “In our language we call this Alam Bawah Sadar” they said. “It’s when your are no longer in your head, but only in your heart. It’s when you are completely in the moment. As a musician first you need to be there (in your heart) and then feeling comfortable or confident will come later. This is the first step. And you can hear the difference.” We looked up ‘Alam Bawah Sadar’ on google-translate. It loosely translates to: the subconscious. “It’s the same when you are cooking” my friend added. I instantly understood why I’m in love with his food.

Today just before returning home. In an effort to wind-down and take a small break. Before coming back home and finishing (the initial) piece I had written, I paid a short visit to the bar where the band was playing. As I sat there listening to a couple of the songs, I viewed their music in a new light (or heard it with new ears if you will). It was incredibly beautiful.

This is the inspiration for this week three blogpost. There’s something I realised you see. ‘Alam Bawah Sadar’ doesn’t merely apply to cooking or making music. Not even just to dancing or making a piece of art. It can apply to our daily lives. If we choose to not only be in our heads, but also in our hearts. If we choose to be in the moment completely when we do something or create something. When we consider our work, for example, as creating pieces of art. I think we’ll be able to do it so much more fully, beautifully, enjoyably, purposefully and the product will be exactly what is needed.

I once met a taxi driver from Nepal on my way home, while I was living in Dubai. It was one of the most inspiring conversations I’ve had. He told me that he knows that his job is important. “All jobs are important” he said “and we all have a role. Our work is to do our job as best we can and do it with our whole heart. I am a taxi driver and how I drive my taxi and how I treat the people in my taxi, has an impact. Whether they realise it or not. Same as how you do your job and how you interact with other people has an impact madam. And so I do my job. And I am happy and proud. No matter if people recognise me for it or not.”

I think they get it. They get life. The taxi driver from Nepal. My friend. And his friend the musician. When they do what they do, they do it with their heart. They choose to do what makes them come alive.

The above quote is one of my closest friends’/soul-sisters’ favourites. She uses it all the time. Here’s what I think. When we do what makes us come alive, we honour ‘Alam Bawah Sadar’ (call it however it makes sense to you in your language). Making an impact on the world, does not need to be complicated. Anyone can do it. It’s not necessarily about doing something crazy or unconventional. Nor is it about doing something conventional, in my opinion.

Maybe it’s just about asking ourselves, what makes us come alive. Truly come alive. In each moment. And simply doing that.

Just a thought…

From my heart to yours,