I just watched a documentary about Bali. It was an hour long. I have seen information about Bali before, and it is close to being in the #1 spot for places I want to go as soon as time permits. I learned some interesting things about the island’s history. They used to have a very simple life, and in many parts of the island still do. People would bath naked outdoors. People made their living doing simple things like farming, fishing, and artwork. These days, a lot of money came into the island from tourism and other industries, so electricity and modern living has made its way to much of the island. There are still many places that live life the old way.
Bali attracts with its simplicity…
One of the attractions for tourists is (or used to be) being in a place that is simpler. If you are from a modern place with a hectic lifestyle, you probably crave having time to unwind with no cell phones, no computers, and perhaps the sound of birds. Having some exotic people around you who cook spicy Asian food might be another attractive perk. Western travelers often question why the Balinese are in such a hurry to get electricity and “ruin” their idyllic way of life?
Craving a simpler life…
My question is, if so many Westerners crave a simpler life, why not create it? What Westerners don’t understand is that we choose our reality to a certain extent. Our choices are based only on what is available which limits us, but there is more flexibility than you think. There is simplicity right here in America. You can go to remote communities where there is no electricity and cell phones don’t work. Most people can’t live in these communities because you can’t make a living there. Therefor we NEED complexity to make a living. But, you can go for vacation and enjoy the trees, the ocean and whatever else is there.
Why not create this simpler life?
The Amish have a very industrious and happy lifestyle without electricity. I think their way of life is something that we can consider duplicating in other areas. Why not have areas set aside for simple living. How simple? It is up to the community. It would be much more affordable to live in such areas since there would be very limited plumbing, no gas, and no electricity. Many regular tourists in Bali were saddened by the fast modernization. But, in reality, Bali could choose to set certain areas aside to be a little bit simpler. That might be a nice tourist attraction as well. Most countries make the mistake of wanting to have every human being in the country have exactly the same standards for housing. But, maybe life is more fun if there are different zones with different standards!
A spiritual point of view on the issue…
According to spirituality, our surroundings are the way they are due to an inner condition. In real life, this is not completely true, but there is an element of what I call the “reflective spiritual axiom of equality.” What is on the inside reflects an exact replica on the outside. Hindus believe this spiritual law, but the reality (which they never seem to investigate or document case studies) disproves this Hindu belief. The truth is that what is on the inside attracts atmospheres that “best match” you for places or situations that you will spend a lot of time with. There is no such thing as an exact replica since thousands of humans live in particular areas, yet those humans only have limited shared attributes. Maybe we live in a complicated place because we are complicated on the inside? Enough about Hindu philosophy and its failings.
One benefit of electricity
The biggest advantage of electricity coming to the villages in Bali was that children could now study at night. But, with a good LED lantern, you can study at night too without all the wires!
Just because you live in a modern world
Even though most of us live in a modern world, it doesn’t mean we have to fly to an exotic foreign country to be simple. We can be simple wherever we are. We tend to get caught up in modern life and follow whatever everyone else is doing. It becomes something we are not conscious of. But, you can life in a modern city, and choose not to use electricity, or at least not use it much. You can choose not to use a cell phone, or at least not have the most recent model of i-phone. You can have a car, but choose to walk to the local market instead of driving and fighting for a parking place.
What are we really seeking?
I think that Westerners who go to Bali are not seeking simplicity, although that is a novelty for a while. People want to be refreshed. Most of us tend to work too much, and wherever we live becomes monotonous after a while. It is fun to be in a place that is really different. Different people, different landscape, different animals, different trees, different foods, different amenities. Bali has all of these if you ignore that it is constantly being invaded by armies of camera bearing tourists! We just need a change of pace. It is fun to go without plumbing for a few days. It is fun to not have electricity for a day or two. It helps us relax. But, after we are relaxed, I think that most of us would prefer to have our electricity back, unless we are retired. The fact is that we need modern amenities to enjoy a prosperous and interesting lifestyle.
My personal story with simplicity
Personally, I was the last of my friends to use the internet, but I swore I would become big on the internet once I built whatever site I was going to build. A few years later I did exactly that. The internet has changed since then, and my presence continued to grow in many unexpected ways. Now, I find this new tool Twitter to be a wonderful source of interesting articles and new friends. Ten years ago who would have thought? If I lived in a cave I would enjoy simplicity, but who would I tweet to?
I also enjoy simplicity though. So, from time to time I go to parts of India that are simple. I also visit Yosemite, and enjoy mountains, deserts, and beaches in the Western parts of the USA. Sometimes it is fun to be in a very remote town in Arizona or New Mexico for a while. But, when it is all over, I come back to what I term, “A normal life.” Maybe it is analogous to sleep. We need to be active for periods of time, and then we need to rest. Perhaps simplicity is good, but as a mechanism to optimize our resting periods…