Almost a year ago, C and I trekked across timezones and found ourselves in Bali, Indonesia.
If you haven’t traveled to a place that makes you feel like you time-traveled, let me enlighten you:
You arrive in a kind of stupor. If you’re like us, you make your way through customs in a foreign land, past huge signs that warn of the DEATH SENTENCE if you transport illegal drugs into the country (whoa), into a hot, humid sea of humankind, and into the confident, comforting hands of a resident of the place who shuttles you into a cab and helps you on the road to familiarity.
You try to keep your eyes open while you pass through night-colored countryside, but you fail dismally and end up dozing through most of the ride. You want to be friendly and gregarious first-world dwellers but you end up snoring in the back seat just glad someone is taking you where you need to go.
Then you arrive at your destination, bleary and grateful, and are handed a freshly made juice.
I remember drinking that first juice in Bali. I was extremely determined to drink all of it and to remember each moment. Some part of me was like, okay, you’re really far from the place you call home, and it’s the middle of the night, and someone who doesn’t make very much money has made you a juice. Drink it, dammit. And be grateful.
And I was.
I just printed out a large-scale photo of maybe the most amazing woman I’ve encountered.
The mother of a friend we made while in Ubud, and someone who, even though I never was able to say anything more than thank you, imprinted me with a profound understanding of beauty, grace and strength.
Most of the time, in our relative luxury, we’re able to only imagine the kind of life that requires day-to-day attention to menial things. Sorry, but doing the dishes doesn’t count. Most of the folks in this world are concerned about a basic level of survival that we most watch as a reality TV show. Or hear about when all natural disaster hell breaks loose. It’s easy for us to ignore this kind of living, and it’s our privilege to do so. Or is it?
I just watched Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, and it was not what I was expecting. Just hearing the title I somehow thought, Oh, it’s about a really joyous tribe in somewhere remote that finds the glory in the little things and won’t I leave that viewing just being enlightened.
Instead, it was about a remote village in Siberia that lives according to season and time and the whim of nature. Like, the folks there pay attention to that. Their entire livelihoods depend on it. I can’t remember the last time my life was dictated by weather.
That’s another story.
But back to Wayan’s mother.
That’s the beautiful Balinese woman who has experienced some events that would level most of us. But it’s her life, and she lives it. I’m guessing, without a tremendous amount of fuss. Surely, when we met her, and were lucky enough to observe her (I snuck glances, mostly) she did what she set out to accomplish, and that was all.
There’s a kind of humility that is beyond the word. A kind that, I think, is so completely without self-consciousness that it becomes, dare I say, grace.
I feel like I see this in moments where I live, but that is the increment it mostly lives in. Maybe I’m not looking far enough. Maybe I should try looking farther.