Today, I think I met my prodigy.
Her name is Denise. She is fabulous. She is an elderly woman in her seventies, has piercing blue eyes, and has an energy and spirit about her that could kill. As she would confidently admit, “I have done it all.”
“I am not religious, but I am open-minded. The possibilities in life are endless,” were some of the first few words out of her mouth. She describes herself as being a “a very strong woman.”
She was born in Australia, however, since “before cars and electricity have taken over this place,” she has lived in Bali for 3-6 months every year. She has “a connection to Bali that is quite impossible to explain.” Since the first time she came, she “was immediately connected to the place and the people. “I have a very strong connection to this particular family, as well,” she says about the people who live at and own the place where we are staying. (Apparently they have royal Balinese lineage, as well.) “I once had a priest tell me I lived here in a previous life, but then again, he also told me I was previously a man,” she said with a wink.
She is an artist. She writes and she paints. She prefers oil to water color, because “with water color you have to somewhat plan ahead, and I just feel limited. I prefer oil, because it doesn’t dry as fast and it frees you.”
“Did you read that book Eat, Love, Pray?” she asked me. “Yeah, I have read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’,” I said, explaining that I had read the book for the first time before I had left to study abroad in Italy. “I have never read that book. I have done all that; probably, better than her too,” she said with another wink and smile.
She has two daughters that our blood-related, and two daughters that she adopted from her second marriage. She has not traveled a ton, but she knows “Indonesia well.”
She has been married three times. Her first two marriages lasted for thirteen years, and her second “has been 22 years and counting.”
She ended her first marriage after her husband “ran off with his secretary.” She was not always so strong, but after that marriage,” I learned to say what I feel and stand up for myself,” she explained. Her second husband died, but she has “two beautiful daughters from that.”
She is currently and happily married to her third husband Peter. “He is my favorite out of the three. I tell him that all the time,” she said. The trick about love she says, is that “you must be in a relationship that is balanced. You have to be able to give and to take…even though, it is not always equal.”
After we had talked for a good couple of hours, Denise went off to check out a local coffee exhibition that she had heard about down the street. Her parting words to me were, “Life is a mystery. You never know quite where it is going to take you. Stay open to the possibility.”
Aside from her amazing energy and zest for life, her incredible sense of adventure, her confidence in who she is as a person, as well as her openness to living, I think the thing that I admire most about Denise is her active choice to be happy.
Life is full of ups and downs. Some people look at their life from the highs, others look at their lives from the lows, and some, do not dwell on either, and choose, for themselves happiness, despite being up or down
Denise has, by no means, lived the commercialized “Happily Ever After” version of life, but, in my eyes, she has definitely lived happily ever after.
Denise was a good reminder, to me, that happiness is not something that just happens to the “lucky ones.” Happiness is an active choice. It is a daily decision that requires determination and effort. Despite one’s circumstances, ultimately, it is up to us to decide how we are going to live and from what perspective we are going to live it.
A picture taken from the patio where I had this conversation…