Mesi and I had the crazy idea from a long time ago that we’d move to Bali. Back then it was clearly a dream – an ideal for some unspecified time in the future when circumstances – work, relationship, finances – would magically coalesce and we’d end up in some paradise of our imagination. This ideal was even more fuzzy given that neither of us, up until four weeks ago, had ever been to Bali. It was a half-plan based on a romantic daydream. Elizabeth Gilbert would be proud.
Then sometime during 2014 as it became apparent that I could work from the road, we began seriously entertaining the thought of moving to Indonesia. And when the Australian government (on an unrelated migration matter) decided to give Mesi a visa and we had to enter the country by September, we thought, why not – let’s go to Bali to check it out if we’re in the area anyway.
We arrived here a month ago and we’re leaving with a one-year lease for a beautiful home in Ubud starting in mid-October!
Why Ubud? Mesi and I have discussed many times what we’d like to have in a place that we call home: a place filled with spiritual depth, that is close to nature, has a like-minded community and is less ensconced in the consume-earn-consume cycle. Of course, Ubud is not without its consumerist side, and neither are we. We love mod-cons. But we are tired of resisting the constant pull of the material, when we could use the same energy to elevate ourselves. Ubud, as far as we can tell, is exactly the place we should be right now.
This has been an interesting and exciting month for us. In a very literal way we are turning our vision into a reality. And while this has been implemented over the last month, it’s a process that starts about two years ago. It has meant risk, sacrifice and staying true to an internal voice.
For those that don’t know, I left a really well paying job at a management consulting firm in November 2012. It was great for my career, and I learned a lot, but I knew it wasn’t nourishing. While I had great people around me, I was stressed, I was working long hours, I travelled constantly and not in the good way. Mesi was living with me in Australia at the time – not particularly happy – because she couldn’t work due to visa restrictions. She had no purpose, and I had a purpose I didn’t believe in.
It would’ve been a straight forward path for me to stay in a safe, well-paid environment, work my way up the ladder and earn twice the ridiculously high salary I already had within three or four years, and then 10 times as much in six to eight years.
But deep down I didn’t want that, so we took a leap into the unknown together and as you do, went to India. I worked in Mumbai in a job that was essentially a volunteer role but in a field I enjoyed – international development. For the first time in my life I lived properly in a different country, in a different culture and had a blast. I didn’t know it at the time, but it created in me a perspective on charity and giving, that was crucial to land my next job. Meanwhile, Mesi found a great teacher in Goa and expanded her yoga training – one that would give her the skills and confidence to go out and teach. After that she travelled around the Himalayas soaking up the juice of India – and she has been carrying that with her into the studio ever since.
After eight months in India, it was once again into the unknown and we moved to Budapest. Of course, Mesi could stay there as a Hungarian but I entered on a tourist visa with 90 days to figure out a way to stay there permanently. Mesi’s friends were skeptical that I could find a job – indeed they were almost proved right. Almost. With only a few days left on my tourist visa I was offered a role as a project manager at a think tank that focuses on using economics to make smart decisions about foreign aid investments. My time in Mumbai, while short, had exposed me to enough of the inefficiencies in international development, that I could resonate with my prospective employer’s mission. And for sure that was a big part of why I landed the job. Compared to Australia, I had to take a two-thirds pay cut, but it meant I could live in Budapest, with Mesi, in a job I liked with more responsibility. This has involved some really really cool experiences – notably travelling to New York twice to meet with UN ambassadors and having a report I put together featured in the New York Times and Wall St Journal, plus working in a field I am more passionate about.
Mesi’s career blossomed in Budapest. Starting with only one class with one student by the time she left she had six classes a week across two studios with a loyal following of students. In Mesi’s last week, one even took a day off work so that she could come to her last class. Mesi was doing what she was super passionate about and constantly expanding in the field she chose.
Again deep down we both knew Hungary, at least now, wasn’t for us. For one year, it was ideal and Budapest treated us well. But when the time came to go back to the Australian region, we knew it was also time to call it quits on Budapest.
We’re still feeling the effects of this decision. Mesi in particular, has had to give up on teaching in Budapest – a safe, stable environment – to risk it all. The reward is the opportunity to teach and learn in one of the best places on earth for yoga. We don’t know what the future will hold, but we’ve taken the first steps: that is to come here, see what Bali is like in real life not just in our day dreams, make the conscious decision to stay and find a home.
And if I think back to how much we have gone through over the last four years – lots of uncertainty, risk, self-doubt – it is satisfying to see the growth we’ve experienced as a couple. What it has taught us is that when you have a vision that is true to your purpose, any other path somehow looks less attractive. We’ve found the dedication, patience and focus to get this far: becoming more comfortable with uncertainty, and simultaneously more familiar with trust. What’s for sure, is that being together has catalysed the potential, that was otherwise dormant, to express ourselves in ways that we never previously believed possible.
Of course, this is just another beginning – we’re excited to see where this will take us and how we can keep growing, for the better.