Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results. Thus, by very definition, I am insane.
After nearly 22 hours of flying and layovers, I landed at LAX on Monday morning after the trip of a lifetime in Bali. I was tired, I was a little cranky, and I felt the Bali joy start to seep out of me with every step through the airport. The length of time it took for my suitcase to appear on the conveyor belt caused many drawn out sighs of annoyance. The line blocking the exit to customs provoked an exaggerated eye roll and some foot tapping. When I started arguing with my cab driver about directions, while on the phone with my mom, I knew it was slippery slope downhill from there.
What if we walked around looking for beauty instead of looking for things to be stressed about or offended by? What if we became beauty hunters? What if we told more beautiful stories? What if it was all we saw, even in the dirt? What if we trained our eyes and our hearts to tune into that which makes us cock our head to one side and close our eyes gently in an effort to memorize what we were looking at. What if it is all we got?
WHAT IF ALL WE HAVE IS OUR 5 BEAUTIFUL THINGS?
36 hours in Bangkok.
So I did. And as soon as I gave myself the space to do what I really wanted, all of the FOMO, all of the guilt, all of the “should haves” just melted away. It was freeing–doing what I truly wanted instead of what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I didn’t take advantage of everything that Bangkok had to offer. I took care of myself instead.
The rest of my planned list did not happen. Instead I did this: Ordered room service. Wrote. Slept. Unpacked and re-packed. Ordered room service again. Wrote some more. Uploaded pictures of my Bali trip. Ordered room service one more time. Slept. Left for the airport, in the dark, at 4am. I did not see much of Bangkok.
- I did not see any elephants
- I did not get a tan
- I did not lose weight
- I did not get into a proper headstand
- I did not fall in love a la “Eat Pray Love” (though I did do quite a bit of eating and praying)
- I found BEAUTY
- I found joy
- I found forgiveness
- I found comfort
- I found laughter
- I found support
- I found kindness
- I found courage
- I found grace
- I found inspiration
- I found sisterhood
- I found awe
- I found peace
- I found wonder
- I found myself
- I FOUND MAGIC
I am grateful.
I am grateful for the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in the most beautiful, magical place I ever could have imagined.
I am grateful for a lovingly cooked Western-style Thanksgiving dinner, eaten with the Bali tribe at a table set for 20.
I am grateful for new, lifelong friends.
I am grateful for the one who brought me here.
I am grateful for a mindful, heart-lifted practice amongst the greenery.
I am grateful for sunsets on the beach.
I am grateful for spontaneous skinny-dipping in the rain and dance parties in white in the kitchen.
I AM GRATEFUL.
Happy Thanksgiving from Bali.
One of the spots I was most looking forward to visiting in Bali this week were the famous healing waters at Tampak Siring Temple. It’s a Hindu Temple located in a valley between two hills in central Bali, and is sacred to the Balinese people as a place to “melt all the bad influences in the body and purify the soul and mind”. You go there with an intention of being healed of something that has been troubling you.
By the vast enormity of what this trip is in my life.
By the circumstances which led me to this tiny piece of heaven.
On a flight to NY this past weekend, I did something I don’t do very often these days: I cried. On the plane, in front of my seatmates, a handful of big, fat tears spilled out of my eyes and cascaded down my cheeks. Slightly embarrassed, I pulled out my eye drops and quickly squeezed in a few, until they became indistinguishable from my real tears. I could blame the eye drops then. It wasn’t me. I shook my head, thinking, “this is why you don’t watch dramatic movies, especially in public”.
When I was 14, I was VERY in touch with my emotions. And my friends’ emotions. And the emotions of everyone I came in contact with (or didn’t for that matter, I could feel them too). I loved going to overly dramatic, heartbreaking movies, where I would cry my eyes out for two hours with no shame or apologies. Sometimes gulping back sobs silently, but often gasping for air as I tried to catch my breath. I’m not exaggerating. You can ask my friend Brooke, who bravely went with me to see the movie Somersby, knowing that I would likely be bawling immediately following the opening credits. (She’s a REALLY good friend)
But at some point, something changed. I stopped going to movies that might cause me to burst into tears, and opted for silly romantic comedies instead. I phased out great literature in favor of cheesy young adults novels about boarding schools and blind dates. I retired the Sarah McLachlan, and put top 40 or rap on in my car. I stopped talking about how I felt, and eventually…I stopped feeling so much. It didn’t happen immediately, but gradually I was able to dim the switch on my emotions.
I stopped allowing myself to be moved.
I don’t really know what precipitated this change. Maybe someone’s reaction to me crying made me feel ashamed for being so emotional. Maybe going through a loss at 17 caused my heart to harden in protection. Maybe I was just so overwhelmed with feeling that I had to shut it off. Take a breather from emotion. For 15 years.
How incredibly sad is that? Experiencing life through a filter of stoicism. Going through the motions without allowing myself to feel everything fully. Choosing distance because it felt easier.
And guess what? It’s not working anymore. Maybe it never really did. I thought by guarding my heart, I could avoid being hurt. I couldn’t. I thought people would be more comfortable with this version of me. Some are. Most aren’t. I’ve gone through breakups, and heartbreaks, beginnings and endings, joy and sorrow…never fully taking it ALL in.
Tomorrow I set off for what is often described as one of the most magical places on Earth: Bali. I am spending a week amongst the rice paddies and the glorious sunsets that make Bali so uniquely beautiful and special. And I realize—I want to be able to feel EVERYTHING. I want to wake up before the sunrise and be blown away by the explosion of colors. I want to taste every morsel of food without worrying about my weight. I want to laugh and cry and swim and sing and sweat.
I WANT IT ALL.
This trip feels serendipitous for me right now, as I am figuring out how to be “me” to the fullest. I get to allow emotion to re-enter my life while surrounded by the wonder and beauty of Bali. HOW LUCKY AM I?!?
I may even bring some tearjerkers along for the flight.