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  • Writer's pictureAdam Murray

The Key To Living

One of the greatest experiences of my life was when I got to spend a day with the Indigenous Embera community deep within the Panamanian rainforest.

Through my previous mother-in-law, I was able to experience the Embera community. She had a foundation in Panama that provided supplies and help for deaf people. That was everything from hearing tests to hearing aids for those who couldn’t afford it.

Once or twice a year, this foundation would travel to these communities deep within the rainforest to conduct hearing tests and provide supplies, if needed. Through this foundation and her connections, I was able to visit their community for a full day, along with my family.

That day’s adventure started out by driving about 3 hours to a small village, where we would connect with one of their community’s leaders, and they would bring us in by boat. I remember getting into the boat and feeling so grateful. It was a canoe made by them that had a little motor on the back of it. We were in the boat for about 2 hours where we floated through open water and some small areas surrounded by jungle, and nothing but peace and quiet. When we finally arrived at their community, there were about 50-60 people waiting for us to arrive. They were all dressed in their best outfits to meet us. I felt so honored. Because we were coming, they put on their most colorful attire and painted their bodies. They only do this when they’re celebrating in some way.

The second I stepped on land they were there to greet all of us. None of us spoke their language or Spanish so we weren’t able to communicate, except through a translator from the foundation. Later on a couple of years later I would finally learn Spanish, but at that time I could only speak a few words. But, we communicated through visuals (things like pointing and facial expressions). They made us feel so at home. The children would grab your hands and walk you through their village to show you everything. Everything in their village was made by them. Their homes were huts that were elevated off the ground to avoid insects as much as possible. They had a communal hut in the center of their settlement where they’d all gather for events and spend time with each other. They had another larger hut off to the right that was their school. They were surrounded by rainforest and streams. It was so peaceful.

After we were there for a while and they showed us around, we all went to the center communal hut. There, we all sat in a big circle and asked their chief questions about everything. And some of their teenagers and children asked us questions. It was fascinating to learn about their culture.

They didn’t have TVs or vehicles or cell phones or anything. They had each other, and they lived off the land. The exact way life is supposed to be lived.

There’s so many things to learn from them.

They live in peace. They live in the moment. And they live for each other.

Here’s what I noticed the most, and I think all of us can learn from:

  1. They aren’t stressed. They were all so happy and lived simple lives. They focused on what was right in front of them rather than what’s happening somewhere else, or in another person’s life.

  2. They’re in incredible shape. They’re lean, are very active, and live off the land. They’re not eating junk food and putting things into their bodies that are bad for them. Everything they eat nourishes their body.

  3. They’re extremely polite. Even the young children would listen so well and do what their parents asked of them. They said “thank you” for everything and would go out of their way to help you.

  4. They’re peaceful. You see everyone there getting along. They all know their positions and what they need to do each day. They embrace mother nature and stay calm in every situation.

  5. They work as a team. Every one of them are helping each other, and enjoying it while they do it. They genuinely love to help one another. And everything in sight was built by them, as a team.

  6. They focus on what’s important. Living off the land and spending time with each other. They prefer the simple things in life rather than stuff (like cars, TVs, and cell phones).

I came out of that experience feeling a stronger purpose for life. You really begin to appreciate everything that you have. And by “everything”, I don’t mean stuff. I mean our families, our health, mother nature, this planet, and every other beautiful living thing.

Every now and again we all experience things that help pull us back a bit and focus on what’s important. This experience was that for me!

We’re all very lucky to have been given a life. A chance to be good, peaceful people, and focus on the important things in life.

Have you had any experiences that have given you more appreciation for everything?

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