By Vanessa Fleming, Summersalt Yoga teacher
Ahhhh, the land of motorbikes, bules (westerners), offerings, and smiles. the land that I found peace, presence, and serenity 3 years ago. The place that pushed me into the current iteration of my life, from which I will never look back in regret.
I’m on holiday for just a few more days, and many of the things here are exactly as they were 3 years ago. the beauty, the waves, the crappy traffic and risks of motorbike rides, I’m reminded to take it all in for exactly what it is…and that’s right now. There isn’t a moment ahead, and you just drove past the moment before. it’s right now and only now.
3 years ago, in a life-changing time for me, a time of transition and uncertainties, I laughed. I laughed harder than I had in a long time, and I screamed. I screamed for the awesome moment of nothing, the moment was just…this. I had been fighting the Bali traffic on my motorbike, pushing and going and waiting and weaving. I finally broke free and was on a deserted road in a matter of 2 minutes. how quickly it all changed, and it was that moment I’m July 2013 that it clicked. The present…that was it. nothing else mattered and I had never felt so grounded in my life.
Fast forward to now, on my last 3 days on this island again, and I simply just am. I make plans, but sometimes something else comes up. it’s hot and I keep going, but I take it for what it is. this morning, I was supposed to go to Mysore for my Ashtanga practice. but I didn’t go. because of an accident my neighbors had, I didn’t get to bed till 4 am. so I missed the 730 am class. So when I finally emerged from my room at 11 after a 45-minute practice, I sat with Nari and had coffee and some tofu in peanut sauce. Nari runs my homestay. she’s a lovely woman, maybe 45 years old, but aged beyond her years. “Husband and I broken.” Her husband left her 16 years ago while she was still pregnant with her second child. so she sacrifices a lot. She leaves at 4 am to go work at the market till 8, then comes back here to take care of the homestay.
Her father and two children help and live here too. At first, I thought her father was her younger brother. No. she’s just aged that much. but today, she showed me her wedding album from 20 years ago, and how different she looked! She was beautiful, youthful, happy. we talked about that time, and how things were. before her husband left. Before her mother died. When Tresi, her daughter, was a tiny baby and her son hadn’t even been a twinkle on her eye yet.
But through all this, she still always has the biggest and brightest smile. She’s beautiful even behind the years of hard work and being a single mom. She has taken a likening to me, and me to her. she makes me eat whatever she’s eating just for me to try. She makes sure I have enough gas in my motorbike, and she always asks where I’m going. She just wants to know.
I haven’t taken many pictures here. I’ve been practicing yoga, I’ve been surfing, I’ve been hanging out with friends. I went to Balangan, 25km south, where I spent my first trip here.
I took a drive down to the Bukit, where I spent my time 3 years ago. The drive from Canggu was reminiscent as I got closer, and for a moment I was lost in amazement that it felt like just yesterday that I was driving these streets. But it was 3 years ago, and so many things have changed and happened in life since then. 3 years doesn’t feel like that long when you look ahead to 3 years from now, but looking back at 3 years ago, and how much has changed…the familiarity of this place flooded my soul and made me smile from ear to ear.
I walked up to Balangan beach, and the familiarity was solidified. There were a couple of new buildings but mostly the same. I walked up to my old warung where I used to spend my days (a warung is like a hut with food or sleeping quarters, sometimes both).
The same owner was there. I smiled at him but didn’t think he would remember me. He immediately said, “Hello my friend! Been a long time! What, 3 years?”
I’ve chosen a life of exploration, which oftentimes makes me long for a home and to feel grounded. Moments like that, just his simple remembrance and greeting, made feel…
I went back again to Bukit for a longer stay, this time with my friend Debby and our friends Marije and Marieke. Debby and I met 3 years ago in Thailand and made an instant connection. we stayed in touch and have met up in various locations around the world since. She’s a friend I tell my darkest secrets to, I confide in, and just enjoy her. She’s a soulmate, and family.
And it solidifies my feeling of home here in Bali. With them, with her, with all of it.
So I’ll spend the next few days exploring, surfing, yoga’ing, and just being…here. now. Nowhere else, not before and not after.