They call this place l’île intense (the intense island). People are said to come here to escape, to leave their difficulties behind and get lost in the way time passes on a tropical island full of incredible natural surroundings. It flies past, before you know it one day becomes a month which becomes a year which becomes two…
But we all know you can’t run away from the past. What makes Réunion Island so special is that it never pretends you can just arrive and hide from everything that may have hurt you. The land here, the rich history, the open-minded and laid back attitude alongside the strong and breath taking mountains, the cascading waterfalls, they all offer a perfect place to let go.
I’ve met so many people here who are on their own unique life changing journeys. Whether you want to call it a spiritual, physical, existential or a-whatever-kind-of journey, we are all finding beauty in the world, in each other, in ourselves and it makes me want to roar with fierce joy.
Some were born here, taking their place amongst the melting pot of cultures and races. Others came meaning to stay for a few months and ended up never leaving. Many are just passing through before exploring other parts of the world. But the one thing everyone has in common is that they’re all brave enough to remain open to the way things unfold naturally without feeling the anxious need to try to control everything.
The more I let myself stop trying so hard to get everything “right” and just go with it, the more positivity comes flooding into my life. I’ve been seeing an Ayurvedic practioner – Ayurveda is an ancient holistic form of healing developed in India – and she’s been encouraging me to open my heart and eyes to all that I’ve been hiding from. Various different teachers in life seem to appear just when they’re most needed and when I’m ready to hear their message. I met her at a day of “alternative living” on the sea front near my house. There were live local bands, organic fruit and veg stalls, community garden associations, health and well-being practioners and even a disco kitchen where volunteers danced and chopped organic veg to give out free soup to hungry passers-by.
There was also a stall with a knowledgeable, kind woman who had light shining out from her entire being. She is a raw vegetarian cook and teaches people how to heal through diet and nutrition. What’s more she runs women’s circles so I found myself in a circle of supportive sisters by the river side one day. All complete strangers to me and we spoke in French, a second language I’m still learning, but I felt so at home and safe singing, dancing and simply being with these wonderful women.
I don’t know if I have ever felt so settled in myself, so ready for whatever lies ahead. This was originally going to be a blog post about teaching English as a foreign language and about how living and working abroad can be great work experience. But that was all head stuff, this all came pouring out of the heart which is overflowing with gratitude for this island, for the opportunity to be here to learn and to grow, for all the people I’ve met along the way.
Thank you world, thank you life, thank you love!