Paradise is a very old word and we can trace it far back in time in many different languages, such as Old Iranian, Greek and Latin. It is originally a religious term generally believed to denote a higher place of peace, contentment and happiness, with more specific attributes attached to it in practically all religions, yours and mine. I will not attempt to describe where the spiritual paradise might be, but rather ponder the fact that many of us at times may feel we have been in paradise right here on earth.
At least once a week I hear people exclaim “this is paradise!” about the area where we currently live. They are mostly visitors who love the tropical beauty and the general warmth of our area. And sometimes we as residents also show our appreciation that way – in moments when we don’t take the clear blue waters, the swaying palms, many flowers and birds for granted. But of course it really isn’t a paradise, it’s not unspoilt and it’s not free of life’s miseries. But it’s close.
I have seen many beautiful places that I’ve thought could be described as “a paradise on earth”, at least that’s what I’ve felt right there and then. One of the first times I remember thinking that I truly was in paradise was many years ago on a very tiny island, Ile aux Cerfs, on the east coast of Mauritius. It was pure nature at its most beautiful. Absolutely sparkling clear turquoise water, white sands sprinkled with palms bending over the ocean greeting us when we approached it on a catamaran. That was a day in paradise!
Another island that gave me the same peaceful awe was the small island of La Digue in the Seychelles. It is only reachable by first island hopping in a small plane and then by boat. The island has many wonders such as exotic birds, beautiful gardens, dense forests and famous coconuts. Not to speak about the beauty of its shores of glistening sand and the magnificent old stone formations. Again I felt like being in what the paradise could look like.
I have had similar experiences in many other very different places, like high in the multi-colored mountains in northern Uganda close to the Rwandan border where the mountain gorillas live, or on the savannah watching the huge red ball fall into a river at sunset.
And I have been wondering what the common element is between these very different places that all made me feel I was in the paradise. I believe that it is the feeling of oneness with nature. Kind of being completely part of it. If that’s the case, then the paradise can be found anywhere we feel the oneness, on our own beach or in the neighboring forest. Anywhere we feel peace, contentment and happiness – and that’s quite marvellous.