It was hard to leave Bali. Many people wrote those words. Everyone felt it. It was hard. Lazaris spoke of Bali as a land “of the between of worlds.” It’s a little island that sits in the middle, in the between, of the Archipelago of Indonesia. Bali is a little world unto itself that sits between our world that is and a new world that is now destined to be. Though not literally true, metaphorically and emotionally — spiritually — it’s true. I felt it. Bali has the beauty akin to Hawaii and to many tropical islands and locations, but yet it is very different from any other place. It certainly is very different from Jakarta or Java or any of the other Indonesian Islands.
There is an animism to the land. Up at 6:15 each morning, I would wander out the terrace just to sit and welcome the day. The sun had just risen or was about to, and the trees seemed to greet me. I felt them watching me, and I watched them. I spoke to them each morning. They listened. The trees along with the incredible morning blue sky or sometimes grey sky and I made some important life decisions together. That happens in Bali.
The beauty of the land was undeniable, and like Colombia, there was ugliness as well. Lots of litter. Lots of plastic. But the ugliness was only a brief distraction, a strangely grounding or anchoring influence that surrendered each time to the imposing presence and utter grace of the beauty. The power of beauty: Beauty creates beauty; beauty is eternal. I get that now in ways that I never did before. Beauty makes us beautiful. Yes it does. Lazaris says that beauty is a demanding lover, but she offers us all that she demands of us. Yes, I get that now as well.
Steps. 200 to 250 (I didn’t count) down and down and down to a water temple — a purification temple. 300 steps at the Mother Temple and another 70+ to the Dark Temple (named that because it was built of black lava stone) that stands behind the Mother Temple. The Thousand Steps to the Big Buddha on Lantau Island (Hong Kong) — actually 247 steps (I did count [s]). Each temple: steps. Each family compound: steps. Each doorway: Steps. According to the legends, Demons and Evil Spirits cannot climb steps. I believe that. Now. At the purification temple, the 200+ steps down was easy. In the small changing room I slipped out of my clothes and into my sarong. Into the water and under the cascading waterfall, amazing. I could have stayed there all day. Laying flat against the rock with tons of water washing over my, washing away the impure and my demons, I felt so alive, so new, so ready. Dressed again and walking up those steps, it occurred to me: My demons would have looked at those steps and said, “Hell no. I’m not walking up all those steps. I’m no fool!” My demons didn’t walk up with me.
So many steps. I climbed up them. Down them. And in more meaningful ways, I took some really important, really powerful, steps in Bali. Little steps producing little changing steps. And out of it all: Big changes. So many of us walked those steps. I suspect we all took steps — more than we realize — and that we all are becoming new in our individual, unique, and personal ways. Steps of change to leave “who we are not” behind. That’s Bali.
My dragonfly and praying mantis. During our time in Bali, Lazaris asked us to collect special moments that we want to infuse with the mystery of remembering — moments that hold hints and perhaps clues to who we are becoming. We were at a beautiful pristine temple lost in the countryside. Breathtaking. It was a Vishnu Temple: water, mutable, flexible, healing, balancing, protecting, maintaining. I was standing at the edge of one of the many pools of sacred or holy water, and I looked down. There, between my feet, a beet-red dragonfly. She sat there; she didn’t move. Dragonflies are a special symbol to me. A precious moment. Later that day at the temple with the Banyan Tree and the rock that protects the Earth (can’t remember the names, it’s a Brahman Temple), as Enrique and I were walking close to the Banyan Tree looking for portals, a praying mantis dropped from the tree on to Enrique’s shoulder and then hopped to the ground at our feet. Huge. Beautiful. He sat there without moving. Enrique lowered to the ground and captured the light of that being in a photograph. The Praying Mantis is a powerful symbol connected to my Lemurian Dreamer. Another exquisite moment.
Together the two moments entwined to become one defining moment. That’s Bali.
The people. Tender. Vulnerable. Refreshingly innocent yet wise at an earlier age. So many of us wrote about the people. All true. In my experience, I saw in them more of what I want to see in me, more of what I want to experience and want to know in myself. Remembering? Yes, remembering, but it’s not about remembering the past, it’s about remembering the way life can be — the future.
Lazaris asked, “What do you want to leave in Bali?” He also asked, “What do you want to take with you from Bali?” Bali can absorb what we leave behind (our “litter,” our “plastic”), and it is exalted and gracious enough to give us what we want to take. Enrique and I left Bali on Saturday, May 30. I left some things behind. It felt good to shed them. I haven’t fully decided what I want to take with me. I am still deciding. Perhaps I am taking Bali with me. It will be alive in me as I remember — as I piece together the precious and unforgettable moments to create a marvelous mosaic. There is something timeless about it all. Eternal.
Hong Kong. It was almost 11:00 pm when we arrived at the hotel overlooking Victoria Harbor. Shangri-La Kowloon. Now we have one more night before we leave for LAX and then to Santa Barbara. We had arranged several tours: a City Tour Monday morning, a New Territory Tour Wednesday morning and a Night Markets Tour in the evening. Thursday we went to Lantau Island and up the “1000 Steps” to the Big Buddha. (247 steps. It was sunny, hot, humid, and beautiful, 247 steps was enough.)
Tuesday was a special day to explore Hong Kong with dear friends: to see Hong Kong through their eyes as they have lived here for several decades. The Hong Kong Park/Gardens, the Tea House, the Tram, dinner at the Helena May Club, and mostly the conversation with friends, it was a uniquely special day. Memorable moments everywhere.
I find Hong Kong to be a beautiful city. The architecture is renowned, but it’s the intangible beauty that I find most intriguing. I couldn’t live here. Too many people; too little space. As I’ve often said of New York City and also of Bogotá, I love the energy but only for a short time. So it is with Hong Kong. There is a vitality here that feels very right.
Beyond the obvious of Hong Kong, it feels to me like we are making a transition from the between world of Bali and from the other worldly adventure of our time there as we slip back into our personal realities. It feels like a transition that offers us the opportunity to bring with us all that we want to, or all that we can, bring back from Bali in an elegant fashion. Whether that’s true or not, I am going to create the reality that it is.
I have changed. My life has changed. Now I am about a new adventure of discovering what that all means.