An Unfolding Experience: Ten Days In Bali, Indonesia
The wind that is hurdling itself against and through the window, causes the letters, dried flowers, and plants in my office to lift and settle, over and over again.
It’s a warm wind, sitting here in nothing but a sweatshirt. It’s the kind of wind that only visits once a year, this time of year. June 3rd, it says, as I flip from page to page of my meticulously planned out month; though we’re in the beginning stages of Summer, I’ve only just begun to digest the heaviness of Winter, let alone Spring.
It’s an in between time, the middle of April that is.
It was during that time, that I had just arrived back in Bend after a month spent with family, leaving myself about five days to pack up and head to Bali.
I could go on to tell you about how early we woke for our flight, what I packed for snacks, clothes, and supplements (lots of magnesium and probiotics, though still not enough). I could walk you through our drive from Bend to Portland; a step by step, play by play, of the adventure we were about to find ourselves on, but that, as a whole, wouldn’t be shedding light on the importance of this trip.
Not because I don’t enjoy that stuff—I certainly do! But because processing, experiencing, and the reasons behind why we bought the tickets in the first place, don’t fall in a linear fashion, and certainly don’t make themselves known one by one, but rather, in heaps and mounds and days-prior riddled with anxiety, tears, and a resistance to step out of our world and into another.
A quick overview, and by no means completely accurate, as it would be impossible for me to try and put into words Julia’s experience, but for the sake of this story, let's get our toes wet.
(Sorry if I completely butcher this, Julia!)
This was her first (lengthier) trip taken since giving birth to her little one, Nico. So naturally, the goodbye, the explaining, the worry that what you’re doing is the wrong thing for you, your child, family, and community—was all too present. What kind of judgment will there be? Can travel, this very big part of life before having a child, be part of her life now? And so on.
Myself, standing in the wake of my grandfathers death just a few short weeks before this trip, I’m suppressing emotions and suppressing them some more—or maybe that’s just the process of things? Regardless, those things feel heavy, and it’s because of this heaviness that I can’t seem to let go of guilt. Of wrapping every exposed corner of this adventure up in—well, to be perfectly honest, at the time I wasn’t sure of the emotion, so I’ll leave it there for now.
*Really quick, I mention it at the end, but all of the photos (ok, I did take some too) are by Julia, who, alongside a million other amazing things, is an incredible photographer. She has a website coming soon (yay!), but in the meantime, you can find her work here.
So off we went, packed into my little rickety jeep, as far from ready as we'd ever be, winding our way from Bend to Portland for our early morning flight, with every intention of letting go of at least half of the weight we were carrying with (here marks the beginning of quite a few metaphorical references).
Or maybe not letting go of, but combining it with a little more ease and clarity—more of this and less of that.
journal musings. Part One. April 19th?
Time change has me confused, maybe it’s still the 18th? Anyways, we’re about 11 hours out from our departure, and flying somewhere over Japan.
This Doesn’t Feel Real
From my window,
I’ve dropped faerie lights across the black earth.
From my window,
sleepers dream and the world we know is in preparation for the day.
From my window,
time feels irrelevant
and such a thing as flying
is neither real
nor part of my imagination,
found somewhere in between.
I’m juggling the word privilege in my thoughts as we fly over places unlike anything I’ve seen before, in a “little” metal machine (it's all relative, right?), controlled by a human, someone just like me, but with a knowledge I have never sought out (my hat goes off to all you pilots out there).
I allowed this word, this feeling of privilege, to decide whether or not I’d share this adventure on social media. I didn’t share, not entirely, and instead, wrestled with what that meant. Yes, I am able enough to do such a thing and go on such a trip, while others are not, but does not mean that I need to keep it to myself? That I should feel ashamed or unworthy of letting those who can’t go, in?
Alright, I’d be needing more convincing.
After a quick pit stop in Singapore, equipped with a luxurious hotel, shower, and nap, thanks to an unexpected layover, we were honking our way from one stop light to the next, pressed up against scooters and cars alike, doing our best not to fall asleep as our driver, under starry skies, brought us into the bustling city of Ubud. A little mecca in the heart of Bali, Indonesia.
It was a blur of color, sounds, sights, taste, smells—as if awaking the senses all at once.
It was a full week of this, that, and the other really incredible thing.
We ate well, whether it be on a little balcony over looking what appeared to be a jungle, but really, was someone’s backyard in the middle of Ubud, or in the humidity of the day, at a few of our favorite little stumbled-upon restaurants. We rented scooters, and while I was tempted by the idea of it, Julia drove and I clung on the back, popping my camera up now and again to capture the world whizzing by, Monkey's and all.
Temples, rice terraces, colorful doors, and food unlike anything you’ve tasted before, got us out of bed at sunrise, and crashing back in, letting the bustle of the streets outside, subside into a gentle hum inside, as we drifted off until morning.
Aside from our scooter adventures, countless hours were spent wandering in and out of the markets, both early morning for the locals, and afternoon for us tourists; fruits and vegetables were consumed by the fist full, books read, and even a massage had—my first one, ever!
In short, we were entranced and very aware of how quickly time was going by.
journal musings. Part Two. April 22nd, 8:23am. Ubud, Bali.
Not wanting to fall short
I’m not wanting to write because I don’t think it will be good enough.
I’m afraid of seeing words that fall
lifeless and in a heap,
unrecognizable and unimportant against the cold earth.
Before my words exist, I take away their power, assigning them to nothing.
Nothing at all.
Holding them to no standard,
as how could they stand a chance to reach those,
when the knot
tied round and round
suffocates—what I think I should do from what I can.
What I have.
What I am.
Loosen the knot
and make it into a bow,
now add some color
or keep it as simple as you like,
leaving it out for yourself to admire.
And you never know, you may begin to like it.
Love it, even.
A few short moments later, I jotted this down.
Not sure if it should be part three? Doesn’t really matter though, does it.
But to be clear, let's go with a continuation...
Ask more questions,
especially after you’ve received answers.
then pull from that place.
Answers will temporarily satisfy, while questions,
questions will feed your drive, fill your worth, and spark that fire.
Your desire to keep learning
Asking those questions
will bring you to places like this.
Those adventures and days filled with the kind of richness that has you up and out of bed, despite aching-swollen feet and a slight headache (dehydration, most likely), they were made that way by not only the magic of this place, but the conversations had. The way we took this emotion here, and placed it right over there—at the forefront of the why’s and the how’s and the what if’s that we had being carrying.
Asking ourselves, do we really need this?
It wasn’t necessarily intentional, these acts of letting go. They just happened, bit by bit, through mornings spent at our favorite cafe, to sleepy conversations before bed, and the bumpy and surely dangerous car ride from this little mecca, to the beach. The place we’d end this adventure of ours. And funnily enough, I don’t think I recognized their lasting benefits until now, sitting here, coffee in hand while surrounded by empty boxes. Boxes that I will be using to pack up this wonderful space we’ve called home for the past three years (and no, we’re not leaving Bend, just moving house).
It’s as if the experience of it all, the way these past two months have shaped my reality, are trickling in bit by bit, and in a gentle, I’m-just-here-to-help kind of way.
journal musings. Part Three.
April 24th, it’s 6:16am, and I’m on the balcony of The Krishna House (place we’re staying), in Ubud, Bali.
It’s a feeling
The sky went from silhouetted palm trees, to that of dark purple and eventually pink, as the sun sent rays across the waking city.
It seems that when I travel, I write nothing of importance, just how volcanic-like clouds reach higher and higher into the sky.
Names of places,
sights—where we’ve stayed,
they all slip my mind as we move rapidly from one moment to the next.
One place, and all of the smells that go with it.
One view, and the sounds vibrating between this world and mine.
It’s the way that experiencing these senses fills me up;
it’s a feeling, often times without the ability to be recreated or explained.
Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.
As I watch these words fall--away.
But what if those words aren’t required to be there?
Not needing to show up for anyone other than me
and how I feel when looking at these silhouetted palm trees.
We’re laughing at ourselves as we schedule in time to sit by the pool.
On our to do list (a completely normal thing to have on vacation, right?): Read, hang out, take photos at sunset, take photos of More Than book, have an alcoholic beverage, figure out where we’ll have our “closing ceremony,” get the sound of a cow bell (we failed at this one), and drink from a coconut (an actual coconut) while lounging on the beach. We continue to laugh about this list as waves crash over our heads and for the first time in a long time, we were not torn between this place and that.
We’re here, just here, forgetting to put sunscreen on in the most important of places, while screaming, “we’re vacation’ing!” between the circling of tides and chapters of our books (that we, by the way, still have yet to finish—oy vey).
journal musings. Part Four.
April 27th, it’s 4:30pm in our little jungle hut at the Balangan Bungalows.
In making big ideas even bigger
The fan above me feels distant, holding some meaning I have yet to figure out,
or rather, to see, as it surely is right in front of me.
The things I don’t know and the things I do, all jumbled into one.
Even now, I’m certain this won’t make sense, but why does it matter?
The things I say
and the things I don’t.
and checking back in.
I want it all to feel ok.
To do it for me just as I am for you.
I want it to all fall into place:
To create without expectation.
I want to string together thoughts,
making big ideas even bigger.
Doing it all, all the time.
When does it stop?
Let’s not misuse this time here together—you and you
and me and me.
Why not try,
letting go of the “I want’s,”
and stepping into the “I can’s.”
While leaving the expectations behind--yours, anyway.
After a somewhat successful (and sweaty, as were all of our adventures) sunset photo-taking expedition, overlooking an ocean full of fishing boats pressed up against the pinkest of skies, a grown-up drink (hello, very sweet, mojito), and the rest of our to do’s crossed off, we decided to head back to our bungalow, incense, notebooks, and thoughts at the ready, to intentionally talk about the ick.
The uncomfortable. The way we always seem to be carrying the weight of things that don’t belong to us—not entirely. Or rather, things we could afford to leave behind. Metaphorically speaking (told you it would be back!).
Guilt, shame, looking at privilege in all the wrong ways, comparison, and negative self talk because of it all—I turn to words I wrote only a few days before, to help begin our little goodbye ceremony.
What will be,
and what wont,
For once, maybe, be ok with just that.
With the way I’ve chosen to do,
and not do.
and not say.
To validate your own experiences,
rather than always asking others,
“what do you think?”
We did a few things.
First, we wrote down a list of things we wanted to leave behind, and read it aloud to one another.
Then, we wrote out a list of things that we wanted to take with us, and though I’d love to share with you both, we decided as our final act, our nod to “we’re vacation’ing,” that we’d go ahead and burn the excess luggage (again, metaphorical).
(Written to myself) Things that you want to take with you:
Making room for the in between moments.
Reading, learning, and curiosity, they all go hand in hand and make you a better more-fulfilled you.
Adventure, in all shapes and sizes, is good and can and should be shared.
Knowing your worth and why you do what you do.
Offerings, in whatever shape they take.
You are a good, even great, writer, and though it’s a gift to keep some of these words to yourself, don’t be afraid to share them. To know that they hold meaning and worth.
You're already doing amazing things.
You don’t have to love all of you all the time, but you should always show yourself kindness when it comes to how you treat your body and mind.
So, how does it end? Were we able to find that ease and clarity I mentioned we were looking for?
In many way, yes, but in others, no. In fact, I’ve had more than a handful of breakdowns since arriving back home, and there’s no question I’ve neglected to act on some of the things I told myself I’d take with me.
But just as success isn’t necessarily something you stumble upon after a few years of hard work, then telling yourself, “alright, that’s me set for life!” A trip isn’t an all-inclusive package, equipped with the care-free adventure, unclouded purpose and meaning, and nothing but security found in moving forward. Sure, a reset. A way to take a step back and look at things with intention. In a way you otherwise wouldn't...
It’s just by no means a fix-all, nor was it ever mean't to be.
it's a privilege that can be used to benefit others, just as much as yourself.
It’s an unfolding experience.
A feeling. A tool added to your tool box used to uncover the reasons why you’re already enough. Why you may find you feel at ease here, when normally you’d be panicked or unable to move forward. Why you're now more comfortable and confident when placing this word in front of this word, and that emotion on center-stage. Why loving your environment, being kind to yourself, and selflessly caring for and uplifting others, is of the utmost importance.
You know, continuing to ask the questions, even after you’ve received answers.
something I would like to make note of.
Bali wasn't all picturesque cafes, pristine beaches, and dreamy moped rides. There was a lot of room for helping hands, so if you have an interest in visiting this beautiful place, or want to love it from afar, take a peak at the links below to see how you can help:
Where did every single one of these beautiful photos come from?
Why, that would be Julia, adventure partner and photographer extraordinaire.
It's true, I did take a few (as well as paint the little paintings), but for the most part, it as all her.
Until our next adventure,