Dear Friends,

It’s Sunday morning, the day of rest and rejuvenation for many in the West. The Balinese never seem to rest. On Sunday mornings, they still wake up at six am or before to set up the marketplace; they sweep the streets methodically; they hawk goods on the sidewalk. Just like every other day of the week, local men call out, “Taxi? Maybe tomorrow?” to every foreigner that walks by. They maintain a constant state of movement, albeit at a very easygoing pace.

For the foreigners I’ve met here, Sunday is a rest day; though to be honest, most days are “rest” days. For example, this morning, I went to Gentle Flow yoga, ohm-ed and breathed deliberately, then stopped at Ganesha bookstore, where an eclectic array of books and exquisite jewelry are sold, made my way to Anomalie coffee shop, where the creamiest cappuccino can be bought for US$3, and then… Here, the “then” is full of openness which could be filled with a long walk, meeting someone for a conversation, eating lunch at a warung (local, cheap restaurant), reading Paulo Coelho’s Aleph, which my friend gave me yesterday, listening to nature continue to awaken or listening to Michael Jackson, inhaling the scent of sandalwood incense on the streets, or drinking water from a coconut on my terrace, and writing you. All the “thens” are pleasing.

Bali is much like Jamaica, and I find myself comparing the two often. In my comparisons, Kingston comes out ahead in regard to its beaches, electric energy, fruit and food; and Ubud surpasses with its safety, customer service, and spiritual energy. In both islands, people move slowly, and have a general, “Take it easy; soon come” attitude. Time means nothing. “Meet me at 1” could mean anything from, “Meet me around one-ish” to “See you in a few hours, or tomorrow, or whenever, but let’s say 1 for now.” Both islands are bathed in sunshine; filled with open, gregarious people; blessed with natural beauty that can be exhausting on the eyes– how can one perceive it all?

As much as the islands are similar, the cultures are markedly different. On my walk this morning, I observed, as before, that many of the Balinese men tuck flowers behind their ear. Many have tattoos on their arms, and frangipani flowers, which grow in abundance,  behind their right ear. The contrast strikes me as wonderful. There’s an air of ease that permeates the town. The Balinese and foreigners alike dress easily; men are often bare-chested on the streets (usually foreign men), button-downs are a remnant of the past, quite a few walk without shoes, and irons are a household item that we used to own, but can’t actually remember. In Tokyo, I would never leave the house without makeup, without ironing every item of clothing, without braiding or bunning my hair; in Ubud, I don’t care. I don’t own an iron, rarely wear makeup, and if I do, it’s eyeliner and mascara only; and my hair is free. A yogi uttered, “You will start to feel free,” a week ago, and she was right.

Practicing non-attachment can be the most difficult thing– I was attached to: ideas, being “neat,” people, my bicycle, outcomes of situations that only existed in my mind, etc.  Attachment stems from fear, and often things are held on to or grasped that aren’t at all beneficial or serving a purpose. We often read about “letting go,” but most of us know that letting go of something we’re afraid to lose couldn’t be more difficult. I read this Herman Hesse quote today that’s beneficial for all of us, “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”

Friends, start to let go of things that aren’t adding any value to your life. For example; let go of the destructive self-talk; let go of the excess weight that’s affecting your energy; let go of the idea that you should be “more” than you are– you are special; let go of the excessive smoking or drinking or any other behavior that’s harming your magnificent self. Sadly, you may even have to let go of someone, someone you’re attached to, but who’s more negative than positive and not giving you what you need. It won’t be easy to release something  that’s offering security, or superficial comfort, but release, and “You will start to feel free.”

Love,

Val

p.s I let go of my hair, and that was liberating on many levels. 🙂