Bonderman Fellowship, Week 1
Family, friends and kindred spirits,
There is so much to share in terms of day to day stories. I've felt like I've lived an entire year in the past week. It has been filled with contentment, connection and understanding. I've been journaling multiple times per day and originally planned to fully transcribe my journal, unfiltered, to the blog. I still have bold ambitions to one day take on this task, but for now I'll spare you guys and myself. If you want more details shoot me a message, happy to expand.
My day to day over the first week has looked something like this. Some form of physical activity in the morning ( usually a nice, quiet, morning swim), followed by meditation and breakfast. Then I will embark out to journey through the city, sometimes solo, sometimes with new friends. Journeying ranges from: hiking, solo trekking through traditional villages, waterfalls, rice terraces, massages , conversing with locals and so much more. Towards the end of the day I generally do yoga, more swimming, and tons of journaling and reflecting. There is so much depth to digest that I find myself constantly journaling.
Some of the highlights of Ubud have included spending time at a locals house and meeting his family. I plan to delve deeper into this experience , in more thought and reflection pieces coming later.
For now, I will share some details of an ecstatic dance I attended. I knew this would be an amazing experience when I was talking to a few girls after my yoga class ended at 6pm and a studio representative came up to me and asked if I was getting in line to buy a ticket for the dance. The dance didn't start until 730pm. I joined the line, where I met a cool girl from London, who ended up being a great dancing partner.
Back to the dance, words truly won't do it justice, but if they did it would sound something like this. 150 hippies, in a room exposed to the jungle, dancing and moving as freely as possible. To my friends who know my "monster moves" (looking at you Zuck), imagine 150 people with their own monster moves. Everyone there expressed theirselves so freely, and just let the music move them. The end of the dance culminated with a beautiful closing circle accompanied by acoustic guitar and song. The joy I experienced, and the blisters on my feet, were something unparalleled to any previous realm of experience. I've only had distant visions and longings of being amongst people who expressed themselves so freely, creatively and openly, in the midst of nature, and somehow I managed to find that in my first week. The phrase " my heart was exploding with joy" now makes complete sense.
Going to the holy water temple, was another extraordinary experience. I was already debating going, but knew I must after getting a recommendation from an amazing women at lunch who is writing a book on the learning lessons of Bali. She recommended the temple for me, as it would be a good way to start my trip, cleansing from anything I was holding onto from home.
The actual experience itself was incredible. Again I will try to articulate what words can't. In the midst of the temple there is a holy pool, with several water spouts, all releasing streams of “holy water.” You move from left to right, stopping at each spout, say a prayer before hand, then immerse yourself in the water. You are wearing a traditional sarung, for me no shirt, slowly moving through the pool, which is littered with offerings on the ledges, rocks on the bottom and beautifully colored fish around the area the water releases into the pool from the spouts.
The experience itself is harder to put into words; purge, release and purification are a few that come to mind. Many moments I stepped back, de-focalized my gaze to view the situation from a more distant lens. It was contently shocking. Here I was, in Asia, alone and half naked, while i immersed my body, mind and soul in “holy water.” I understand just how out there this sounds. It is a sentence I would have laughed at two or three years ago.
There is so much more to tell, I could write an entire post on spending the day with 3 amazing Dutch girls at a hot spring by the mountains and lake, catching the sunset with them by the mountain peak, and the profound conversation we had with our driver about religion being an internal practice to dilute the ego. Or I could talk about my couchsurfing experience, right outside Bali's most notorious prison ( I'm okay mom). There is swimming in waterfalls, and trekking rice terraces. I'll be honest capturing these experiences in words, and then translating for others to read, seems like a daunting task. But I'll make my best effort to do so.
Again, I feel like I've lived a year in one week. And yet again, this was only one city, of one island, of one country, of one continent. Many more cities, countries and even continents ahead on this journey. A goofy smile is on my face now as I write this realizing this is the first week of many. For now I am going to stop typing about experiences, in interest of having more experiences. Wherever you are, may peace be the journey.
Feeling ever so fortunate to be a recipient of this wonderful experience,