On a trip to Bali earlier this year, there was a certain appealingly radiant distinction to its people.
That certain “something” went beyond surface appearance of gentle features and jet-black hair. For two weeks I saw not a single person slouching or slumping along. There is a physical grace inherent to their movement coupled with a lovely upright posture. As I strolled the tourist town streets or got off the beaten path to remote locations, everyone seemed relaxed, shone genuine warm smiles, and moved with physical elegance.
People still carry bundles on their heads, which is part of where their beautifully upright postures are developed. They also engage in arts and dance as a part of daily life. Children go from school to dance classes with a local master, much in the way that American children go to play on a sport team after school. This cultural embrace of the arts and social manner of respect shown to one another was conspicuously attractive.
Sure, living on an exotic island of tropical splendor, it seems a person could live with less stress than the daily demands of juggling careers, families, city traffic, and, well, typical life as we know it. However, the citizens juggle work and family life on a densely populated island through grace, good manners, and pride of community, all inherent in their culture.
The full impact of this distinction really resonated after I returned home and went to the grocery store. Walking up and down the aisles, I heard people speaking very poor English (simply the one language versus the multiple languages the people on the other side of the world were able to speak), several children were rude and unruly, and it was only the occasional person seen walking with lovely upright posture and grace of movement. Think of the posture and manners exhibited by some of our enduring style icons: Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy, John Kennedy, even our new President-elect. These characteristics do not cost a dime. Simple awareness and choice to behave with charm and grace radiates with an indelible mark of good taste and style.