Since arriving in Bali, I have felt peace and ease and happiness. There is just this feeling of serenity and finding. I know it sounds weird and a little woo-woo, but it’s the truth. I don’t know if it’s the geography or the volcanoes or the positioning of the tectonic plates. Maybe it’s the result of the success of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, Eat Pray Love. It doesn’t matter where the feeling came from; what matters is that I get to be a part of it.
Bali is something I have never experienced before, and I’ve been to many islands and many tropical destinations. It’s like heaven. Eden.
The island is just one of many that make up Indonesia. There are two types of people: the locals, of course. And the tourists. Tourists, however, are broken up into subgroups. Many are the standards vacationers. Bali is Australia’s backyard. There is no shortage of Aussies at every restaurant you visit. Bali is also a top destination for the wealthy traveler. For most Westerners, this is the complete opposite side of the world. Vacationers are here to escape winter.
Then, there’s everyone else. Bali is the place for the lost. People come to be found….to escape something in their life and to improve themselves along the way. There are a plethora of yoga and meditation retreats all over the world, yet many flock here and immerse themselves in 21-day silent retreat or to earn their yoga instructor certification.
Because Bali is magical.
If you want to find yourself, focus on yourself, or devote all of your time to personal development, this is the place to be. You are in good company. Bali is where to come to think and to be and to meditate. You come here to return to nature. No one judges your attempt to better themselves, because they are probably on a similar journey. No one thinks that you should go back to a job you hate just because it contributes to your retirement plan. Instead, you are encouraged to stay longer, to take more time off of work, and to sit and be and relax.
But what does Bali mean to me?
It’s raining today. The skies are a bit gray and the rain has been slowing spitting for about 40 minutes. No one is complaining about the rain. It’s welcomed. It’s an escape from the humidity. It’s an oasis for the plants. It gives another reason to lose track of time at your favorite restaurant.
Papa Hemingway had Paris. Paris was his retreat. He moved there after serving in The Great War. He went to Paris to write…to be a writer. He felt like he didn’t know how to write, so he went to study with a tribe of other artists led by Gertrude Stein. Plus, Paris was cheaper that living in the States. He would pursue his dream of writing, but he could also travel and experience France. While there, he was introduced to people like Ezra Pound and James Joyce. He was surrounded by others who wanted him to be a successful writer.
Is Paris responsible for Hemingway’s success? I would argue that, yes, Paris is the reason Hemingway is a household name, even to those who have never read his punctuation-less prose. The presence among his tribe allowed for his creative process to shine through.
For me, I may have found my Paris in Bali. I have found the Eden needed to do my creative work and to experiment with other forms of creativity I wouldn’t have made the time for before. I have also found my tribe to offer an objective standard by which to measure my work. I cannot be powerfully creative in my solitude. Just like Sylvia Plath who felt creatively stifled from her literary tribe in London to cater to her husband’s solitary preference, I too need the diversity of thought, opinion, collaboration, and community to thrive.
Surrounded by luscious green plants with the largest leaves I’ve ever seen breeds my creative genius. I’m inspired to write and to create. I’m also inspired to think deeply about my goals and purpose in life. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded with a multitude of others who are seeking the same thing. It’s so gratifying to speak with people who are genuinely happy. It is these people who encourage my personal growth, my time away from the computer, and who strongly urge that I never leave.
I don’t know what the future looks like for me. I do know that Bali is someplace to where I’ll be returning!