Friday, January 3, 2014

Redefining YOLO

YOLO. For some people, it’s their party motto- Thanks, Drake. For other people, it’s an obnoxious, teenage acronym that usually entails engaging in risky behaviors after school. I often find myself jokingly throwing around the term in embarrassing situations where I accidentally make a fool of myself (When you’re living in a foreign country, it happens on a daily basis- Usually multiple times daily.) But in the past few weeks, YOLO hasn’t been any of these things for me. YOLO has become a reflection of my life. 

Pantai Cukup
I celebrated my first Christmas away from home. On Christmas night, my host mom and I boarded the night train to Yogyakarta. I fell asleep in Bandung, and woke up in the heart of Indonesia’s culture. My first day in Jogja was spent beach hopping. I finally got my first glance at the Indonesian beaches that Google Images promised. As the tides turned, and I drank straight from a coconut, I couldn’t help but think, “This is the life I was born to be living.” I had been kissed by the sun, and swallowed by the sand, and I couldn’t have felt more euphoric. The next day came quickly, promising adventures equally enthralling. I stood on the steps of Borobudur, a Buddhist temple that dates back to the year 790, and I was awestruck. Never in my life had I seen, let alone stood in such rich history. I breathlessly climbed to the top of the temple on the same, steeps steps that ancient Buddhists had. I admired the same mountains that many of them looked at everyday. As I drove away that evening, I watched the setting sun paint the sky peach and coral, with Mount Merapi watching over me. I was filled to the brim with joy, as I sipped on the most perfect glass of Jogja sweet tea, and was gently reminded to embrace the good vibes from “the little things.”

Traditional wedding clothes of Padang
Lionel the Komodo dragon
Next thing I knew, I was in Jakarta- The constantly moving, Indonesian melting pot that simultaneously embraces contemporary lifestyles, and archaic culture. The past week here has been nothing short of fulfilling. I’ve been welcomed with open arms by my host grandparents, and taken on journeys that wouldn’t have been made possible without their young, adventurous spirits. I let a snake whose weight was almost the same as mine dance and glide over my body. I embraced my inner Indonesian bride and was dressed in traditional, wedding kabaya from Padang- The kabaya wore me, and demanded attention with its bright reds and golds. I made friends with a Komodo dragon named Lionel, and decided that someday I’ll be the proud owner of one myself. I spent my morning drifting on a bamboo raft while wearing a traditional sarong from the village. I gained the trust of a baby water buffalo, and bathed him in the river. I was invited to join a drumming circle with traditional, Papuan men. I’ve done all of these incredible things, and then some. 

I love the country I wake up to. I love the stars above that serenade me to sleep. I love the way the light never looks the same from night to night. I love that I will never stop chasing it. I love these experiences that I’m having. And I love all the people I’ve met along the way. Saying you only live once isn’t a cliche, it’s a truth. It’s a truth that has been revealed to me in a setting that couldn’t be more perfect. And it’s with that ideal that I’ll run to the future, waiting to see what's in store for me next.