I woke up in Bali this morning. Not by accident — I had booked the trip on the internet, clicking here, clicking there, without having any concrete expectations of what those casual clicks would materialize into. But sure enough, there was a smiling driver holding a card with my name on it at the airport at 1:30 in the morning, who reached into a small cooler and presented me with a chilled hand towel and bottle of mineral water, then drove me to a secluded resort where I was led through a lush tropical garden and the scent of night-blooming jasmine to a private villa with its very own swimming pool. (Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE internet shopping?!) The staff here have suggested many wonderful outings to experience the island during my visit, though I keep thinking, why would I want to leave THIS place? I may just refuse to leave, EVER!
There is something magical about Bali. I’m not talking about its exploding number of holiday resorts or adventure tour operations. I’m certainly not talking about its ancient rice paddies being paved over for new subdivisions for western retirees. Many travelers have rejected Bali’s expanding commercialism and have moved on to newer ports of call. Not me.
When I use the word “magical”, I’m talking about the energy of the land. There is a gentle power on this island that seems to wrap itself around you and make you feel better, just by being here. By being still. By sitting in a pool of water under a sky full of stars, thinking quietly and clearly. Answers come.
When my estranged husband died suddenly last year, it was Bali that called out to me. Even while I was in the midst of filling out forms at the embassy in Manila and tying up all those bureaucratic details that seem to spring up from everywhere when your spouse dies in a country not his own, I kept hearing the tiniest whispers, “Bali. Bali.” I hadn’t been planning to come to Bali at all, but I usually follow whispers when I hear them — and so I came and retreated from the world for a week, grieving and remembering. Healing.
Sometimes it’s important to allow people to be kind to us, which really just amounts to being kind to ourselves. To say, “My body is tired. Please massage it.” To allow another person to see you unclothed, to scrub you and bathe you and cover you with healing lotions and scents. To “baby” us again, like our mothers did so many years ago. To accept a stranger’s smile and when that stranger asks how you are — to smile back and really answer them. In Bali, I find this easy to do. For most of my life I have heard myself say, “No thank you, I can do it myself”, as I rush, rush, rush — ignoring the smiles of strangers. In Bali, I smile and say, “Yes, please. Thank you for your help”.
And so I have come back, for the fourth time, to rest and think. Tomorrow I begin a one-week yoga and meditation retreat, bathed in this island’s healing energy. After that, my life is really going to get busy, but I have no doubt that I will have been fully recharged by the spirit of Bali.
Hopefully, I’ll have some beautiful photos to share with you as well…