Dear Friends,

Most mornings, I wake up early and walk from Bisma Street to Jembawan Street, which takes approximately fifteen minutes. Along the way, there is a rice field, a school, the outdoor market where vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables, restaurants, gelaterias, cafes, small boutiques, and stray dogs that are strangely quiet. Today is a ceremony day, as almost everyday seems to be in Bali, and some men are decorating  bamboo poles with colorful flags.

Wayan, the caretaker of the villa, in which I reside, is always up and sweeping at 6:30am. “Good morning, ” he smiles; “Yoga now?” I walk down a narrow, unpaved path to Bisma Street, where Guday (pronounce Good Day), who is Wayan’s cousin, greets me with a warm “Good morning.” In Japan, I acquired the habit of bowing, which is unconsciously done to all along the way. I bow to the elderly man in the sarong, who walks down Bisma Street every morning at the same time; I bow to the schoolgirl on the scooter in the brown uniform, who’s just driven herself to school, though she can’t be more than twelve; I bow to the man sitting on the sidewalk enjoying the morning breeze. I bow to them to respect their divinity, as much as my own.

When I lived in Cacapava many years ago, I walked daily– a longer journey physically, but the same distance inward as this walk to Jembawan. The walk in Cacapava would encompass pastures, cows, horses, a few houses, butterflies, stretches of cloudless sky, solitary pilgrims (on occasion), questions from within and when lucky, answers. Walking was a meditation, and with each step, seeds were planted in my mind and heart that are now beginning to flower.

Though Cacapava and Ubud are more than fifteen thousand kilometers apart, when I walk in Ubud, I’m also in Cacapava. Technically this experience is new, but it’s all familiar: the way the sun  holds my face up, the way the window frames the trees, the way the ceiling fan chases mosquitos away, the way strangers say, “Sister,” the way the airs sizzles and palpitates, the way the sweet, ripe banana tastes, the incredible beauty of strangers, the awareness of what “is” combined with the struggle to accept the “now.” In Ubud, as in Cacapava, a smile given is a smile returned.

Being in Ubud is no accident. It took years of travel along an invisible current to reach here from Cacapava, and the journey was challenging and worthwhile. On the journey, there were: new cities to live in and explore, interesting people to meet and love, awesome accomplishments, stunning failures to learn from, romances to get lost in, failed relationships to glean wisdom from, boring jobs to get through, resolutions to make (break and ignore), pain to endure, awareness and ignorance. The thread that ties Cacapava to Ubud forces me to examine the question to myself (and you), which stems from the then and relates to now, “What would it take?”

What would it take?

1) What would it take for you to realize that you, and only you, are responsible for your happiness?

2) What would it take for you to stop looking for approval outside of yourself and draw strength from self-love?

3) What would it take for you to understand that you are as responsible for the well-being of others as you are for yourself? (You are your “brother’s” keeper– The joy of others is your joy.)

4) What would it take for you to accept yourself; to look at yourself as your own creator? (To look at yourself, and think, “Yes! That’s just how I wanted it.”)

5) What would it take for you to give more than you receive today?

6) What would it take for you to claim your divinity; to acknowledge your god self?

7) What would it take for you give yourself what you need– a kind word, a nap, a hug, a vacation, a fantastic meal, a moment of silence?

The walk to Jembawan, no.3  filled me with many questions, which will take many journeys to answer.

My friends, be well.

photo (19)

Love,

Val

p.s  I love to see when you’re dancing from within. It gives great joy to feel such sweet togetherness. Everyone’s doing, and they’re doing their best. —Bob Marley (Jump Nyahbinghi)