Friday, May 17, 2013

In which we learn an American Lesson with a Balinese Face and tattoo it for good measure.

I came to Bali declaring that I had no agenda. I was going to study yoga for two months in the jungle before going where I "really" wanted to go: India. I stated out loud that I didn't know how I'd change and I wasn't going looking for anything. I was kind of planning on learning whatever profound lessons there were to learn in India, after I had relaxed and played at the beach with Bodhi, and gotten my yoga practice to have a bit more depth before I showed my face in the "real" place.

But you know, I had no agenda. I was open. (Sounds like it, huh?)

I knew on some level that travel always changes you, and that traveling with Bodhi would change us both. I had a feeling we'd become buddies, and I'd have some sort of deeper revelations in the same vein that I have in the yoga studio in Aspen, because its just a stretching arm of a practice that already is teaching me in my life.

I was hoping, maybe, that the exotic location of India would unlock some deeper, mystical concept of myself, after the soaking up of all things good in Bali. Bali was going to be my reprieve, India my hard work. Again, no agenda. No, for real. Its not that I wasn't open to learning, its that I was planing to learn something profound if and when it presented itself when I was in a profound land.

Oh, Kate. Come on. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I knew Bali was more for me than I wanted it to be. It is a strange, beautiful, crazy collision of a place, it feels something like the chaotic inside of my mind.

So okay. I'm here to learn. And let the learning begin in Bali.

But... I feel that I am ready for some more resonant truth, some higher wisdom, I'm tired of the mundane self reflection lessons I have to learn. Maybe in Bali I would understand "Life" a little better.

I did have the idea that Bali would be a paradise, white sand beaches, Thailand with waves, maybe. After the chaos of the ski season, I was looking forward to five months alone with my kid.

I arrived here at first disappointed that I had a safety net of friends accidentally spring up, part of the lesson I was trying to construct for myself was that we had done this on our own and in doing so some deeper truth had been revealed. (But remember, I didn't come here with an agenda or an idea of what I was going to learn).

And then I found gratitude for the friends I found. And then, I met Dewi Sri, and everything changed.

Dewi Sri is the Goddess of Rice. And if that was really all there was to it, she probably would not now occupy a prominent place on my right shoulder and arm in the form of the biggest, most beautiful tattoo I've ever had.

I walked by her statue in Ubud and was completely struck by her. She was breathtaking. She looked gentle, kind, wise, young, old, inviting. I started walking by her on purpose. I don't really believe in the devine. But I do believe in our ability as humans to embody knowledge in packages called Gods.

"Who is this?" I posted on Facebook with a photo of her.

"That's Dewi Sri. Goddess of the rice harvest. Thanks, I needed to see that." came the reply.

Why would she need to see that? Doesn't the girl that responded live in Seattle? Is she really into rice?

I investigated further. It turns out that Dewi Sri is the Goddess of plenty, of bounty. This is symbolized by the rice harvest she holds in her hand. When you are blessed by Dewi Sri, one of the outcomes is that you have a bountiful rice harvest.

But that happens because you have a healthy, happy family who works hard and happily together. You create the wealth in your life through your relationships. She also symbolises Science, as well as beauty and love.

I looked at this statue. I looked around inside my heart. I want a life blessed by Dewi Sri. I want this for my children.  I started to measure my decisions by her. As I used to ask "Will this help me achieve my goal?" as I went for the National Team, now I am asking, "Does this look like a blessing from Dewi Sri? Will this increase the bounty of love, happiness and wealth (of whatever kind) in our family?"

It sounds like an exotic lesson. But I was shocked to have to learn it again. Because it showed up in the form of a very old lesson that I have ALREADY FUCKING LEARNED. Several times. In America. And this time, I felt a bit pinned to the ground while the lesson was water-boarded into me. Do you get it, Kate? Will you learn it this time?

At first I was really sad and disappointed in myself. I know this lesson. I'm familiar with it. I thought I had changed this years ago. I began, in my daily yoga practice, where most of this stuff leaks out of your pores every morning, to be faced inescapably with my truth. I was grateful for it, the lessons come gently and just kind of sit down in front of you, naked and waiting while you work in the shala. But if you see them, and don't take action, the lesson will stare you down until you listen. Sooner or later, you are gonna learn.

So I did the only sensible thing I could, I got sick. I came down with a mad case of Bali Beli, a fever, stomach cramps, I was sick in bed where its really far away from the Shala, sweating, and hurting, and worrying. I missed about eight days. And I suffered. And the lesson kept showing up anyway. In every corner, in every breath, in every way.

Finally, I felt like I was whimpering in the corner. "But I don't want to learn an American lesson from regular life that I already know and already learned and fixed. I want to be evolved enough to learn something GOOD. Come ON!" Boom. Sick again. Just as I was recovering.

Two more days in bed. Two more days aching to go to yoga, where at least I'm growing while I'm staring this thing down. I decided to stop fighting. I rolled over onto my right side, and surrendered to it.

You are right where you need to be to learn the lesson you need to learn. And that lesson is not always pleasant or comfortable. It got quiet in my heart and head.

I went back to class. I blinked, I felt a bit shell shocked, a bit sheepish. "Okay, you don't have to yell." I felt like telling the universe. "I'm here."

We begin again. Follow the breath. Practice and all is coming. Mulah Bundah. Find your center, root to the earth, find length and space. For the breath, for the lesson. I began to breathe again. Rhada told me "Your practice is getting juicier. That's the energy I was looking for, Kate."

Addee took almost six hours to make each detail just so. A dash of color in two weeks. Incredible.
Today, Bodhi and I drove to Kuta, where Addee from Rumble Avenue Tattoo made a beautiful picture of Dewi Sri on my arm. She is coming out of the waves where Bodhi is finding himself and stepping over his own fear. My mundane, unwanted, American lesson has an exotic face. And I'm so grateful for it. Now, its a promise.

And, I suppose I have also been reminded that the next lesson is the next lesson. We don't get to pick. Maybe I'll take that one, as well, and truly try to stop choosing. Maybe I'll
  open my eyes and heart and just listen to what's next.

Thank you, Prem and Rhada for your support and patience. Thank you Bodhi for your love and for letting me teach you. Thank you, Tom and Ethan, for letting us come allll the way here to find ourselves. Thank you, Addee for your incredibly detailed, patient, dedicated hard work. Thank you, Dewi Sri, for finding a form I could relate to, for showing up. And thank you Bali, for being more than I bargained for.


monique said...


Villas of Sanur said...

This is really so beautiful!! wow!