The Simplicity of Happiness

We are back at hotel orientental; back to our phones, our computers, and the rest of our materialistic pleasures. It’s really quite strange, actually. A day or so ago we were surrounded by kids who had never seen an iPhone, people who held no value to currency, and trees as thick as ten humans. I currently sit on a cushioned bed and type on a computer. I was blogger over the three days we spent in the village of Torewa, so I obviously wasn’t able to write. Now I will, and I would like to reflect upon those three days.

I had never seen a hut that was actively being inhabited, let alone a hut covered in carnivorous ants, or shoeless kids who would walk over such ants and ground growth. They must have thought us rather silly, squirming at the sight of ants we had to walk around in our hiking shoes, yet their three year old selves, wearing no shoes, just walked right over them with no emotion.

The first day, the group was unloading the water filters, while I took pictures of them (since I have back issues and couldn’t lift) a couple kids came up to me and stared at me. I wondered why, and then I realized they were staring at my camera. I showed them how it worked, and then they started taking pictures. I then showed them my iphone and the apps I had. I showed one of them ‘bald booth’ which is an app that shows you what you would look like bald. They were all cracking up. When I did it to one of the kids, and he touched the top of his head to make sure his hair was still there.

The next day while writing in my journal, I noticed I was surrounded by kids, they were just watching me write. I told them I was writing in English, and they told me they couldn’t read English. I then offered my journal to them so they could draw. A seven year old drew a house, but it was 3D and strangely accurate. These kids drew amazing pictures; I was very surprised, which I feel guilty for being.

I brought an airplane pillow along with me; one of the kids saw it and I told him it was for a person’s head to lie on at night while they slept. He nodded mulling over the thought. I then realized that he didn’t know what a pillow was. Their beds were not made of mattress; they were made of wood, resembling tables. When I left I gave that kid my pillow and told him to share it. As I walked away from him for the last time, a couple minutes later, I glanced back at him and he was illustrating to the kids around him how to use it, putting his head down on it.

In a sense their sheltered lifestyle made me feel bad for them, almost pity them. Then I realized their lack of technology did not dictate how happy they were. They understood the simplicity of happiness, which is now-a-days very rare. Us foreigners looking in feel like we must save them in a sense, many of our group members were very distraught by what we had seen. But that is because we are on a different level of needs. We our accustomed to our easy lifestyles, but these people don’t know any different therefore they don’t miss what they don’t have. Most Americans become happy by receiving and consuming, and living very technologically developed lives. We are on the 50th floor of needs to satisfy us, so when we see people that are on the first floor we can’t possibly comprehend that they are satisfied. The kids and people in Torewa were grateful just to have clean water, whereas most Americans think it the norm. These kids became enthralled with just being able to draw pictures. They are satisfied easier, compared to us. We are on different floors. A floor that understands the simplicity of happiness, and a floor driven by the complexity of happiness.

The people of Tarawa sleep on beds made of wood, I currently sit on a cushioned bed typing on a computer, and that, that, says a lot.

Remember the simplicity of happiness.
-Anne Lewis

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