A post from Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
I came to Bali for the first (and last) time around 30 years ago. Like a lot of people, when I think of Bali, I think of Australian teens on schoolies drunk-a-thons, stupid people like Schapelle Corby, Bintang Beer tank tops, and haggling. These are all things that have made me steer clear of the island.
This time, however, Jeff and I are here for 12 days of rest and rehab. We’re not sight-seeing, and we’re not moving around. We’re in Ubud and that’s it – 12 days without packing and unpacking our suitcases.
Ubud is many things. It’s the soul of Bali, where perfect people in perfect lycra-clad bodies come in search of more perfection. Well, that’s not true, actually. I’m not perfect, I’m certain not clad in lycra, I’m overweight, not searching for perfection, but I’m certainly searching. I’m searching, as I have been my whole life, for meaning, purpose, for a functioning digestion and bowels.
So far on the journey, I’ve seen a spiritual healer and I’ve had a water ritual performed by a local Brahman priest. It’s not lost on me that I don’t consider myself to be spiritual, and the “woo-woo” often makes me feel queasy. For some reason, anything that reeks of woo, of the unproveable, makes me want to sprint in the opposite direction. And, frankly, that’s too much running for me. Yet I believe in karma and intuition, in the “universe” delivering. I recently stopped believing in religion, but I enjoy some of its rituals, and I believe in the people of religion. I love the idea of the archangels – Gabriel, Lucifer – but not an almighty power that sits above us somewhere. And astrology? I dunno. Part of what I believe in is that the more you examine and have conversations, the more you learn about yourself, about others, about the world.
All these aside, I’m in Ubud to find something, even though my therapist, coach, and countless other people I have paid, have advised me to take a chill. Stop searching and it will come. Stop searching and I’ll learn that I already know what I need to know and be and do. But I’m impatient, and that just doesn’t fly. Nor do I want it to fly. I mean, I’m turning 50 soon, so if I don’t ramp up the search, I may never find it.
So… today I see an astrologer. But Jeff refuses to see one.
“Why not, Jeffy?”
“Because, I’m not searching.”
After a few moments of silence, while I composed myself, I tried to remember that quote by Socrates, but I was still only one coffee into my morning. Luckily I have it now:
The unexamined life is not worth living.
And yet, I look around me at those who don’t examine, and they seem so.much.happier than I.
Was Socrates wrong?
I’ll ask the astrologer.