Sometimes I think something in the back of my mind but can’t fully bring it into consciousness. Then someone else says something near enough to what I am thinking that I feel like a curtain has been pulled back and I want to jump up and shout “That’s IT!” Sometimes that happens. Like today.
Yesterday I walked around Arambol, up and down the beach, looking at the travelers, trying to figure out what this scene is actually about. I noticed how after you have been here for awhile you start to recognize the same people, start to see their game. It’s kind of like living in a big party full of cool people that you don’t know (one that lasts for six months) and you have to figure out how to fit in. I thought about how my old broken heart would have felt that this was a paradise, a dream party. All these fabulously freaky people roaming around practicing exotic skills while mixing spirituality and hedonism. Just my cup of tea. I thought about how it would have been so exciting at first, how it would have piqued some hope for fulfillment, for love, that I was always looking for but never quite finding. I could almost feel that old familiar feeling, without feeling the desperation that used to accompany it.
I spent yesterday wrestling with it without having any words to bring it to the surface.
Today, my friend Rachel up and described the whole scene in a few sentences. How so many people place their hopes in this place as a kind of paradise, only to find the reality of really strong cliques, feelings of inadequacy, and constant loneliness. How it’s kinda like high school. That’s IT! I almost wanted to shout. It’s the same carrot-on-a-stick. The promise of fulfillment that rings so hollow when the party is over and you are left with nothing but the rags of your hopes, the ache of how things just didn’t turn out like you dreamed. How at the end of the day you were still left alone with yourself, with your loneliness that just keeps getting underlined.
I thought about how there are so many people here, the “in-people,” who know how to talk and act and look and perform to impress everyone they meet. How lonely they must be, to have to find their acceptance in being so perfectly cool. What happens inside when they fail, or when they meet someone better than they are? Perfection is a harsh taskmaster.
I thought about the fringe-cool-people, the people who want to be the in-people, but just don’t have the looks or the skills or the connections. How their hearts are so laden with feelings of inadequacy and rejection. How they try to find ways to compensate, to cope with their loneliness.
I thought about Jesus, and how he never picked the cool people to hang around with. How he picked the fishermen. The fishermen here in Arambol are not travelers on vacation who are living in a party. They are poor and dirty and smelly and their life is boring. They have pockets full of fish guts and sand. They don’t wear cool clothes, they don’t know how to juggle, or philosophize, or firedance---they probably don’t even know how to swim very well. They are not the people you want to be associated with if you have a reputation to build.
But that is one of the beautiful things about Jesus, he never cares about how well crafted your image is, he only looks at your heart.
And then if you let Him, He mends the places that are broken; even the ones that are broken beyond recognition, because He’s the only one who remembers what your heart is supposed to look like. That’s the only thing that will satisfy any of us, really.