So Bali was pretty cool. We spent two weeks in this natural paradise, exploring and relaxing and diving into yoga, art and beach combing.
We arrived in Ubud which is the cultural center and heart of Bali (think Eat, Pray, Love). We stayed at the Four Seasons at Sayan which was a splendor of a place and quite a relaxing backdrop to see Bali. We relaxed, did various types of yoga- laughter, aerial, chakra and loved going inward after whirling around the past two months.
Ubud was bustling and pulsing with activity, jungles and temples. Hundreds of colorful kites filled the skies each day which created activity all around us. We explored indigo shops, a batik factory and bought beads. Police regularly shut down roads so that temple processions could parade down the streets, and in front of every business, home, school, you’ll find daily offerings of gratitude & hope, made from flowers and leaves left for the various Hindu Gods. It’s really remarkable to be in a place where gratitude is the basis for everything. Get in a cab, there is an offering with fresh flowers on the dashboard, go into any shop, hop around the daily offering so you don’t step on it.
Each family in Ubud lives in a compound- that is, a walled site where multiple generations of a family live together. There are outbuildings separated, but the family gathers for meals together. Every family in Ubud (unless not Balinese) comes from this sense of belonging, this sense of place and understanding. This is a dramatic and almost opposite shift of how most Americans live, where there is some sense of esteem and accomplishment in leaving the nest. But, what if departing your family home isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be?
One morning during our time in Ubud, we were given the opportunity to visit the village of Sayan. We went to a family home (the neighbor of our guide) and we were surprised to first learn about the compounds. Josh was down with Bali belly (ugh feelings that can occur because of bad food prep), and Luna, David and I ventured off into the village. When we arrived into the compound, we were amazed at how gorgeous it was. The common areas were paved in stone, the compound (like all others, too) has its own family temple- where the family gathers to give gratitude. Since all of the resources are being pooled together, everyone has better places to live. Luna was so overwhelmed by her experience vs theirs that she began to cry. “Why can’t we live like this?” She asked. I didn’t have a good answer. The guide then asked, “Do your grandparents live near you, too?” The family’s home that we were at had three or four generations there, all together. Luna, David and I walked around, seeing the festivities that were unfolding while the family gathered and prepared to celebrate all of their trees, and thank them for the gifts of food, healing and shade that they offer. So much gratitude, so much joy, so much community.
Travel often provides a contrast of the honest limitations of the ways you live in comparison with those around you. It can show you another way, and this was a very meaningful experience because it was a way that felt different and maybe, even better.
We left the family’s compound with a sense of hope and loss. We don’t live near family, and we really missed them. What would life be like if we all lived together? Surely, we’d drive each other a bit more crazy, but at least we’d be together, to have a stronger sense of home and who we are and where we come from.
After leaving, we spent a long time talking about life and how important community is. Could we have our family all move to live together? Probably not (but if you are reading this and interested, let me know). Even if we don’t have three generations living under one roof, we could celebrate life with more gratitude. We could celebrate our own trees, connect to our land more, spend more time with those we love and create our own family area dedicated to express gratitude each day.
I’m Grateful for Bali and for our time there. For kites and family and friendship. For the beauty of nature and jungles, rivers and color. I’m grateful for adventure, our nest, for home.