After nearly 22 hours of flying and layovers, I landed at LAX on Monday morning after the trip of a lifetime in Bali. I was tired, I was a little cranky, and I felt the Bali joy start to seep out of me with every step through the airport. The length of time it took for my suitcase to appear on the conveyor belt caused many drawn out sighs of annoyance. The line blocking the exit to customs provoked an exaggerated eye roll and some foot tapping. When I started arguing with my cab driver about directions, while on the phone with my mom, I knew it was slippery slope downhill from there.
So I stopped. Took a deep breath. Told my mom I loved her. Accepted the cab driver’s apology, and thanked him offering it and getting me home safely. Focused on recalling how happy I had been just one short day earlier.
And then I remembered: The 5 Most Beautiful Things Project. Earlier this month, my friend and mentor, Jen Pastiloff, started the 5 Most Beautiful Things Project. The idea, born while she was sitting in LA traffic, was that you can find 5 beautiful things in every day, in every moment. In her exquisite words:
What if we walked around looking for beauty instead of looking for things to be stressed about or offended by? What if we became beauty hunters? What if we told more beautiful stories? What if it was all we saw, even in the dirt? What if we trained our eyes and our hearts to tune into that which makes us cock our head to one side and close our eyes gently in an effort to memorize what we were looking at. What if it is all we got?
WHAT IF ALL WE HAVE IS OUR 5 BEAUTIFUL THINGS?
I quickly took stock and identified my 5 Most Beautiful Things in that moment:
-Global Entry Kiosk
-My suitcase arriving
-2 episodes of my favorite Homeland
-My comfy bed
-A million Facebook interactions with my fellow Bali tribe members
And I felt better. Immediately. Actually, truly, really better. I smiled, I felt lighter, and being back at home felt good, instead of a letdown. Because my real life, here, in Santa Monica, is GOOD. Great even. I need to believe in that and not lose sight of it because I have to wait a little longer for my luggage.
How quick was I to believe in the magic in Bali that I assigned significance to every gesture, every beautiful thing I saw. An elegant green door, a dirty child placing a flower on a tree, a man washing his chicken in the river. Each was beautiful in its own special way. Each meant something MORE, because it was in this magical place.
I had my laundry done halfway through the trip, and it was returned to me with a delicate green thread sewn into the back of every item. I knew it must have been a special blessing bestowed upon me by the Balinese, some offering that would protect me, the wearer of these clothes. I asked my new friend Wayan to explain what specifically this beautiful green thread meant, what glorious custom this was.
“Oh, that’s how they keep the laundry organized. All of your clothes have a green thread, all of Jen’s have a red thread, all of Mel’s have a blue thread….”.
How lovely will my life be if I can find the green thread in every moment, real or imagined? It sure takes the edge off returning to reality.