Spending the summer working in Fiji was an eye-opening experience.
I explored secluded islands, ran across sandbars, visited a floating bar. I went hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, ziplining, and skydiving above one of the most spectacular ocean views you can imagine.
I snorkeled with giant manta rays and swam under giant waterfalls. I witnessed more spectacular sunrises and sunsets than I can count. I jumped down sand dunes, lathered up in mud at hot pools, and led students in finding a little selflessness to work on local service projects.
All of that was incredible, but perhaps what I’ll remember the most about my summer in Fiji was the unique immersion of the experience, and the peace and joy I found in living simply.
To be completely honest, when I found out I was going to Fiji, I suddenly felt a little unsure. Should I have saved Fiji for a vacation destination and tried to get placed somewhere else a little more… cultural? What was there really to see and experience for two months in Fiji? I was searching for a more in-depth cultural experience, and I was worried I wasn’t going to get it in the Fiji Islands.
Thankfully, my fears were dispelled quickly upon arriving. Fiji was nothing like I expected. Yes, I visited beaches, but I spent more time among hills, mountains, and forests in the interior of Viti Levu.
No, there weren’t big cities and iconic buildings or sites to explore. Instead, it was more about connecting with nature, the natural rhythm of life, and becoming immersed in Fijian culture, which was far richer and more diverse than I had expected, as I bonded with the local staff.
For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was living the right way, in a way that was natural to my body, mind, and soul.
Every morning, I woke up naturally, just a few minutes before the rooster crowed and the breakfast bell rang.
My days always varied. Sometimes I stayed at the base camp, roaming the grounds to find the best wifi to do my work. Other days I joined groups of students on their activities — volunteering in the local community, running through the sand dunes at a nearby state park, or getting dirty at the mud pools.
The sun began to set around dinnertime. After eating, we hosted different activities for the students. Sometimes it was a kava ceremony with the locals. My favorites were bonfire nights, where we huddled together by the fire, singing songs and sharing stories, staring up at the incredible night sky looking for shooting stars.
It was there that everything felt right, that I felt a great peace within me.
I usually collapsed into bed by 10 p.m. in the satisfying kind of exhaustion that means you got everything you could out of the day. I slept like a baby to the sounds of croaking frogs and softly bleating goats, ready to wake up and start all over again.
This kind of simple living is hard to do these days, but it’s worth it.
There is nothing like the feeling of peace when you disconnect from phones, computers, and demands and reconnect with nature, allowing your body to sync with the natural rhythm of the world.
It doesn’t have to be months or weeks, and it doesn’t have to be on the other side of the globe. Grab a few people that matter to you and drive a few hours to a state park. Camp. Turn your phone to do not disturb. Take a hike and look around you — really look, and see how interconnected everything is. Sit around the fire and tell stories. Gaze at the stars.
Realize how much possibility there is — and for once, don’t let that overwhelm you. Appreciate it, embrace it, and take comfort in it.