I believe it was Seneca who said that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Not to put too fine a point on things, but I just walked the 40 paces from the yoga shala to Setia Bungalow – my house in Ubud with this view of that volcano – changed out of my yoga clothes, walked 15 steps forward to the massage parlor next door, made an appointment for 5:30 tonight, walked 16 more steps to the Yellow Flower Café, where I am now drinking a hot ginger and about to order breakfast (shall I have the energy smoothy, or the fruit and yogurt, or just go with the eggs and homemade bread?). Making decisions never was easy for me, but here, on the “Island of Gods and Demons,” as the locals like to call Bali…well…I might end up with a chicken satay in peanut sauce for breakfast.
Some Westerners are now lopping off the pejorative side of things and calling Bali the “Island of Gods,” meaning perhaps, a heavenly place—which one might agree is true. This has a totally different connotation than the Balinese concept. If you’ve ever seen a statue of a Bali god, you know how gruesome it can appear: pointed teeth, snout, claws. It has to look like that in order to keep that pejorative side of things under control. You don’t send a Pekinese out on patrol with a New York City cop. You need a big dog to run with big dogs.
One other bit of luck that I’ve discovered this trip is this: I am allergic to rice fields. When I stay in a house located in a rice field, my eyes itch, my throat burns, and snot runs like the River Jordan. Well, the River Jordan these days is a trickle–there is no Michael rowing no boat ashore. But let’s not nitpick details regarding bodily fluids. The allergy business is sad because rice paddies are magical places. In the jungle areas here, I have no allergic reactions. But, the other side of that story is there are way more insects, and sizes of insects, in the jungle areas. And the insects in the jungle have not cultivated their sense of place regarding tourists. They are much more determined and persistent, and way less trainable. As with most things, you take the good with the bad if you want to keep sane. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be prepared for what happens next.