Blog | Yes Man – Part 4.
I’m approaching the half way mark of my time in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea – as good a time as any for reflection on what’s happened so far. I often jump straight to the major activities, like trekking through rainforest or climbing up a volcanic crater – the showcase activities I guess. However, I’ve been thinking about the things that happen out of the blue of late. Those things that just happen with no expectations, yet contribute to shape my experience here in Bougainville.
In 2005, I read a book by Danny Wallace called ‘Yes Man’, which was subsequently made into a Jim Carrey movie. It’s a true story about Danny Wallace himself, who’s down on his luck, becoming bit of a recluse but wants to make a change – therefore he starts to be open to opportunities which present themselves by simply agreeing and saying yes to everything.
It was a riveting read and the concept of being open to spontaneous opportunities and actively seeking adventure was something to which I could relate – it struck a chord. Before reading the book, I had a taste of travel and the endless possibilities an open mind could deliver, whilst backpacking in New Zealand for a couple of months in 2002 before quitting my job of over 6 years and setting off on a year-long adventure around Australia in 2004. I’m not implying I went around saying yes to everything, that’s far from the truth and my stubbornness would never allow it. However, I made a concerted effort to be more open-minded, put myself out there and try new things.
This mindset swiftly became less forced and more of the norm as I continued to travel and now, many years later in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, I find myself once again thinking about the concept of Yes Man. Why? I put it down to a series of small, spontaneous events – of which occured out of the blue and just needed me to say yes and go with the flow. Last week, I found myself singing and playing guitar with a 4 year old called Albert. He was teaching me to sing in Tok Pisin ‘laikim mi, laikim yu, laikim olgeta’ whilst I played the guitar, until we both grew restless and started a new game of flicking elastic bands at a tower of tin cans. A small thing, which never-the-less enriched my day. When I bump into him now he asks me to play guitar, kick a ball or stack up the tin cans.
Another opportunity which presented itself was a visit to Loloho Beach. Go back six-months and I had never heard of it, yet it’s currently my regular weekend go to spot. Upon arrival I chat with the chief and we catchup on the week, before I head into the ocean for a swim and snorkel. The location is absolutely stunning and a joy to visit. This week I discovered some unusual landmarks half buried in the sea bed whilst snorkeling; an oil lamp, a metal toolbox and rack shelving. As well as an unbelievable assortment of intricate, colourful coral, fish and other sea-life like sea urchin and starfish. As someone who kept and breed tropical fish as a youngster – yes that’s right – I feel like I’ve shrunk (like the tv series, Land of the Giants) and jumped into a fish tank – as my eyes manically dart all over the pace to take it in. This week, I discovered that someone who has been in Arawa for 3 years was visiting Loloho Beach for the first time – which really hit home how much of a privilege it is to have had this opportunity.
I’ve also a had a handful of offers to swim in the rivers around Arawa – with just a nod of agreement we are setting off to these incredibly scenic spots with overhanging trees, large boulders and so many idyllic cascades. The water is cold and it’s the best way to feel instantly refreshed in the 90% humidity. The only downside? The mosquitoes! I have found a solution to avoid being eaten alive though… You’re thinking mosquito spray right? Nope. A nice pair of socks pulled up to prevent the bites – as a bonus, they make it easier to walk on the stoney river bed. I wonder if someone has got a patent on mosquito / river socks? It’s a real pleasure to get out and explore more of the beautiful surroundings of Arawa.
Here’s to hoping I get many more chances to say yes over the next 6 months! I was going to mention the games of football I have played in the garden – but to be perfectly honest the 2 – 4 year olds just don’t play at the same level of intensity that I am used to… However, it still surprises me when they tell me to ‘kick now’ when I’m getting carried away with keep ups. Anyway, I really want to read Yes Man again now. And maybe I’ll give the movie another watch too, which I must admit left me a little disappointed at the time of release, but I guess you just never know – I might love it this time around!