Dear readers, I must tell you that finding entertaining antics, life-threatening situations and general mayhem for your reading pleasure is really starting to weigh on me. This last week I was chased by no shirtless men, I never once thought I would drown and I am sorry to report that really I defied no odds whatsoever. In fact the last week was really remarkably easy, vanilla in fact, and for this I apologize. I’ll try harder, I promise.
Sunday morning I awoke again on the boat with Ed, Mary and Jason. We decided to treat ourselves to a day of yoga and lounging by the pool at a nice retreat/resort in Canggu.
Upon arriving at the resort Mary and I were asked if we would teach the two morning yoga classes as their normal instructor was ill. Well why the heck not… after all we are yoga teachers now. Right? So this is how I came to teach my first paying yoga class – paid on the spot in a multi-course breakfast and a few hours of pool time.
I opted to take the adult lesson and Mary taught a children’s class. I assumed that there would be three or four students, I was wrong. It appears that this resort is pretty popular and as people continued pouring in I became increasingly nervous. Five people, ten people, fifteen… for a moment I felt like I was acting the part of yoga teacher. But when I began the class the nerves melted away, once again I went into that meditative state I reached when I had taught during my training. I absolutely loved it - I am hooked!
Afterwards, one of the owners of the resort asked me if I might like to be a guest teacher there for the month of October, an offer I am very seriously considering.
One final night on the boat with my Bali surrogate family and then it was time to go back to life on my own in Ubud, but not before Jason introduced me to something that almost altered the course of my journey, if not my life. For about an hour I forgot my yogic path and seriously considered cashing in my plane tickets for a Fender guitar and some mall hair. I found Guitar Hero!
Somewhere between a Stairway to Heaven and something Pat Benetar once sang I remembered that I can’t really play the guitar – who am I kidding I can’t even play that hunk of plastic fashioned to look like a guitar and mass produced to woo the minions into purchasing a $300 ticket to sedentaryville. Nope, there would be no Next Balinesian Rock Star or Indonesian Idol for me. It was time to go back to Ubud and to accept that the hour had come for me to be totally alone.
I was alone for all of about three hours. There were still two women left from yoga school traveling around and they both popped back in on me as soon as I returned to Ubud. Analisa and her boyfriend Geoff came back from a week of surfing on a small island to gather their things before heading back to California. It was fantastic to see them and I am comforted in knowing that they live somewhere I frequent, so I am certain I will be having dinner with them again sometime soon.
Geertje, the other yoga school student still in Bali, is a contemporary dancer/Pilates and yoga teacher from the Netherlands. She gave me a call and I met her for dinner, which morphed into a few days of touring together.
The next day Geertje and I began our morning with a mysore practice, just like we had each day during school. We decided to immediately balance the peace and mindfulness of our practice with some good old-fashioned shopping. Oh sure we started the day with some Balinese dancing/theater so we could chalk this up as a cultural experience, but really we were focused on material consumption. Ubud has been discovered, as has Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur, on and on, so trying to find bargains in these places is not easy or fun. What is fun is the craftsman villages. You name it, stone Buddhas, mosaic plates, Balinese woodcarvings, silver… there is a town dedicated to making it.
Apparently in Bali, God-given talents are not so much divinely bestowed as they are geographically determined. If you were born north of Ubud, you can carve a mean wooden Saraswati. Born in the east, silver smithing is your calling. If your kin reside anywhere between Denpasar and Ubud, you grew up fashioning frogs, dolphins, dragons, lions and bare-chested women out of cement in your spare time. And well, I have no idea where the folks herald from who are responsible for all the fake Rolexes and Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses, but I am sure they are diligently balancing manufacturing with Bali-Hindu devotion just like all the other artisans dotted throughout the rice fields of this island.
Unless of course those are made in China, but let’s pretend like they are made in a rice paddy and volcanic sand beach-encompassed village full of laughing children, whelping dogs and Hindu temples, where plastic bling, replicated Swiss movement and synthetic Italian pleather grow on beautifully flowering trees of gold.
Geertje and I hit the stone carving, wood carving and silver smithing towns and for good measure we even stumbled upon a glass mosaic-encrusted Buddha and disco ball-making shop. It was at about the third stone-carving workshop that I realized I would be paying more to ship my purchases back to the US than I had to procure them. This fact takes away some of the joy from being able to buy a three foot stone-carved Ganesha statue for $5, but only a little.
The last two days have been dedicated mostly to trying to decide where I might teach and subsequently where I might live next month. Ubud is out because of that damn Elizabeth Gilbert chick and besides, there is a glut of overqualified yoga instructors here and let’s be honest… I can’t compete with the commodities trader/sommelier/certified Balinese healer/ yoga teacher or the hot Indian/aruvaydic healer/yogini so best to not get into a yogic turf war I can’t win.
The chanting is interesting to note because I have been doing a bunch of research lately on Ashrams, thinking that after Bali I might venture to India or find one in Thailand. I’ve been searching all over Asia via dodgy and super slow Internet connections. In fact I was searching for just such a place from the stairs leading down to the villas where I am living – a perch I frequent because it is the only place on the property where I can pilfer a wireless connection – when I finally met my neighbor. I had sort of been eagerly anticipating meeting him because he seemed very mysterious to me and I have heard chanting coming from his villa in the early morning hours.
As it turns out, pretty much everyone else who lives here goes to his place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings to meditate and chant. In fact, they are all here because this place is ... drum roll please.... thier Ashram. Knock me over with a friggin feather… I have unwittingly been living in an Ashram for three weeks. So I got my official invite to join the club and Friday morning I meditated and chanted my way into a feeling of calm and lightness that I hadn’t reached since way back in My Moment.
So now I am faced with a decision – and it’s a doozy, mainly because there is no obviously bad choice to be made.
Choice 1. Spend October on a hedonistic island paradise with only about 500 other people, whiling my days away with snorkeling, tanning and being simultaneously repulsed and intrigued by the abundance of legally-sold-on-every-corner magic mushroom shakes.
Downside, I will likely not teach yoga or have the opportunity to take yoga from another teacher.
Choice 2. I can move down to one of the more commercial towns in Bali, teach a bunch, get to take classes from various instructors, earn some money and experience another vibe.
Downside, I would be in a tourist town that I feel would lack the soul of Ubud and I would definitely have to rent a motorbike and thus drive here – which is a subject for a whole other post.
Choice 3. I can stay here in Ubud where life is easy, yoga classes abound Gurus stumble out of every rice paddy and Ashrams sprout up around you.
Downside, I will not be able to teach and the gray/rainy skies will quickly reduce my skin to a shade of pink/white that clashes with everything I own.
So for tonight I will keep living in the NOW and leave the work of decision making for another day. Tonight, I will watch something pirated and sub-titled on my laptop and I will perhaps even indulge in a Bintang, because as of this evening I really am all alone. Analisa is back in San Francisco, Geertje is in Malaysia somewhere and Mary is sailing around that hedonistic island I am considering moving to. For the first time since Germany I have no date, my dance card is empty, I have no one to meet and no appointments to keep.
Deep breath…. Here I go.
Begin at the Beginning
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