Cultural Adjustment

I am home, back in Minnesota (sigh). In fact, I have been here for a week. It was a hard adjustment. I don’t think it was because of the cold artic air, okay, I am exaggerating a bit, it is only autumn in Minnesota.

I noticed that I just couldn’t find the right warm clothes to wear and I kept turning the furnace thermostat up. I couldn’t sleep at night, and during the day I always felt it should be ‘nap time’.  I think the word for it is ‘jet lag’. I have adjusted, and as I pen this article I have a small ache in my heart for Bali. Would I go back? Yes.

So what was the reason for this sudden extended trip to Bali, you might be wondering? Why would anyone buy an airline ticket on Monday and then on Friday fly half way across the world? I didn’t know the answer to that question myself, until I arrived home and everything felt different. I felt as though I was waking up from a dream. I looked at the house and the neighborhood. Everything was the same, and in ‘its place’. Time had changed the season; the leaves on the trees had changed, making their yearly recycling trip. The change was bigger than that, it was within me.

When people asked me, “What was the most memorable experience of your trip?” I quickly answered, “The water blessing by the Priestess”. I knew that something had happened to me during the blessing. It wasn’t something I could feel … at that moment, it was something that I felt later … and thinking back now, maybe it was the Priestess and all the ceremonies and the loving people and the rice fields and Ubud, the little three street town in Bali.

So what did I learn?  I learned that I need much more ceremony in my life. I don’t have to make my ceremonies ‘Bali style’. In my humble opinion they spend too much time in ceremony, making ceremony baskets, cutting banana leaves, making penjors, burning 10 sticks of incense daily when they can barely afford to eat.  I watched ritually, each morning as a Balinese person stepped out of their house, hotel or restaurant and placed a prepared offering at the doorway with a lit stick of incense, after that they go through their ‘establishment’ putting offerings in every room, or at every little temple. So today I lit incense and savored the aroma. Somehow, I declared, I will begin my own daily ritual to “honor the Gods and myself” I pondered; the conscious act of ‘an offering’ declares in some way “thank you for all that I have”.

I also learned that I am too busy, and I have too much clutter and too many things. I am quiet and I will become quieter. Now, if you ‘know’ me, you probably wouldn’t say that I have clutter, as I don’t have shelves with knick knacks, and I keep things pretty tidy, but you may agree that I am too busy. I think that my trip to Bali nudged me a little, and so I can see more clearly how ‘busy’ I am. I know the changes I make regarding ‘my busyness’ won’t be sudden, but they will progress and they will be long lasting. How are you doing with busyness?  Are you still running around trying to be and do everything for everybody?

After walking in the hot sun from one place to another, only to find the ‘thing’ was not there when I got there … I realized that nothing is as important as I think it is. That might be part of the Bali life that I brought home with me. I love to read, paint, play the piano and meditate. Yet, the days go by and I fill my time with other ‘things’. So I expect I will focus a little more on the ‘things’ I really like and forget all the rest. I don’t have to be a ‘super woman’ and it’s okay if I didn’t wash my hair today, or if I wore the same clothes for three days. In Bali no one noticed. They just went on having their ceremonies, smiling at people and being happy.

The day before I left I hired a taxi driver to take me to an art museum. He talked about who he was and his family. I asked him if he wanted to drop me off at the museum and then come and pick me up in two hours. He said, “No, I will just stay and wait for you”. I questioned, “But couldn’t you have another fare in those two hours”?  He smiled and responded, “Yes, but I would loose you, and you would find someone else”. “Taxi Driver is what I do.” He took a breath, “I am not a rice farmer, I am not a construction worker, I am a Taxi Driver, and I will wait for you”.

Profound, isn’t it? A Taxi Driver from Bali taught me it is okay to be me. And for you, it is okay to be you. You are perfect just like you are and so am I. In this big world of mishap and ceremonies, everything is really okay.


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"The Priestess and I"

“The Priestess and I”

Water Blessing

Water Blessing

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