PART ONE: BENEATH YOUR FEET IN BALI
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS IN PARADISE THAT YOU DON’T LOVE THE MOST. Like, say, when a monsoon dumps a hard rain overnight, and you’ve got your towels and just-washed-in-the-sink underwear and T-shirts on the drying rack in the bathroom, and the bathroom has an open-air ceiling that you love, but rain pours in through a hole like that, and your stuff gets wet. Or when the giant wood spider with the wicked three-inch leg span weaves a web during the night and connects one end of it to your chair. Or when the two-foot-long, red-spotted tokay gecko who you love to watch eat mosquitoes poops out the remains of some of those mosquitoes and drops them on your daypack in—granted, small and hard and easy to remove, but—annoying little turds shaped like elongated American footballs, black, except for some reason, one pointed tip is white.
Note to self: research gecko poop…what’s up with the white tip?
But one of the most annoying things to love the least about paradise is the furniture. There are two odd issues about the furniture: One, it is made of bamboo, or wicker, or rattan, or wood, and it is never comfortable (and they didn’t name them “giant wood spiders” for nothing). Two, if your accommodation even supplies cushions, they always put tacky, bright-colored and usually huge-flowered material on them as though that were normal or cute or proper furniture material in paradise. Try this: go on Airbnb or Trip Advisor and search photos of places to stay in, say, Hawaii—you’ll find flowers on all the furniture. It’s like the Mafia controls the furniture-material market in paradise, and you MUST use their material (or swim with the fishes), and it’s all got flowers because that’s what the Mafia is all about since going legit. I’ve seen five-star hotels go all gaudy with that crap. Fine, there are a lot of gorgeous flowers in paradise, that’s part of what makes it paradise, but do we need blown-up versions of them woven onto our furniture, too…is all I’m saying.
But perhaps the worst problem regarding furniture—I guess this makes it three annoying things—is that there are different standards (or perhaps, just no standards?) for height in furniture, like the height for a table and the height for a seat of a chair. The chairs never match the height of the tables. One of my favored mottos—right up there with “I’ll do that later”—is “Never say never.” But here, the furniture never matches. Either, you hover over your plate because your chair is almost the same height as your table. Or, you feel like a munchkin sitting at a dining table because the seat is so low. You have to put a couple extra cushions on your chair to put you high enough to feel comfortable eating at the table. Maybe another cushion, if you want to use a laptop. But fine, we’re learning to accept “what is,” and there is good and bad in everything—when you wake up in the morning and ease your way out from under the mosquito net, you find yourself staring out at all those real flowers in paradise, natural jungles of trees full of them. Grow a set, dude, and please quit complaining about paradise.
But let’s just say you get to Bali, and all you really want to do is chill. And you do just that for a month. But then, you must vacate the house you’re renting because some other lucky creep has it reserved. And you’ve got a week left until your plane departs for home. What to do?
All you still really want to do is pull a Badfish version of Elizabeth Gilbert, and Eat Pray Chill: maybe eat mango bagels from Bali Buddha Bakery, lie in a silk hammock listening to sounds of silence, get another deep-tissue massage at Iman Spa. However, you harbor this feeling that you should do something else. You are in Bali after all, everyone else is doing everything: visiting the bird park or Botanical Gardens, riding the elephants, snorkeling with dolphins, white-water rafting the Sungai Ayung, hiking to the top of Gungung Batur for a sunrise view, photographing temple dances at night, dining on gado gado and fresh-caught tuna.
But say you are notoriously weak at decision making. You get this last-minute, desperate idea to have your blog readers vote for what you should do. You imagine, or openly hope, that they will empathize with your desire for chilling and vote for your continuing to chill. They know you want to chill. They only want the best for you. The first few votes are thrilling; these first few really cool readers vote for you to carry on chilling. But get this—almost everyone else (72%) votes for you to get that lazy butt off the veranda and out into the land of gods and demons and experience the damn travails of traveling, possibly crash that motorbike into a rice paddy, again, so they can read about it while sitting on their comfortable and appropriately-sized furniture, and laugh. So much for expecting empathy for a chilling, bagel-eating, douchebag veranda sitter.
A few readers offer other options. One says to “let the gods and demons decide” (which isn’t really a proper vote because obviously, that’s exactly what is going to happen). One says to “follow your bliss” (very Campbellian, but why couldn’t she just have voted to chill?). One wants you to go all the way “to Komodo Island” and risk your life at the hands claws and teeth of the resident and legendary dragon there (the Komodo Dragon will eat you, and they are not behind bars in a cage, they run wild, and you must walk out into the wild to see them eat a goat, or their young).
These are the results of the poll:
You still really only want to chill. However, you have put this thing—this someone else making your choice for you—out to the universe. You’re beginning to think you can’t just ignore a message from the universe after requesting it. There are always consequences to your actions, and non-actions. Some might call it karma, or cause and effect, or luck, or mere coincidence. You might be feeling a little miffed at Krista Stevens and the Blogging 201 course you took that required you to make the poll in the first place. On the other hand, since making rationalizations is becoming de rigueur for your days lately, you begin to imagine possible reasons why you might not actually be required to heed this as a message from the universe—like, it’s just an online course you didn’t even pay for.
But yeah, you know better. You begin to wish there would have been a lot more really cool readers who would have voted for you to lie in your hammock, watch the Bali starlings clustering in the rice paddies, chop off the top of another young coconut and drink the juice before heading off for today’s deep-tissue massage.
Note to self: in the future, cultivate more really cool (that is, empathetic vote-for-chilling) blog readers before offering another poll.
The trail that leads from your house.
The bamboo bridge that crosses the river.
You wander past some grass and rocks and lichen.
The roots of an orchid.
You pass the orchid tree, as usual, where you park your motorbike.
You imagine making art like Georgia O’Keefe.
Tomorrow and the next few days, you will head off to see parts of Bali you have never seen before: Tampak Sering, Padang Padang, Gitgit and Sekumpul Falls. And some, you have seen before but not for many years: Jatiluwih, Ulu Watu, Lovina. Part of you is excited to get all Kerouac on the road in Bali. Part of you is glad you made a decision (okay, okay, a decision was made for you, a decision you would not have made yourself). Part of you still wants to chill. One of those times we must accept “what is.” Oh, the heavy burdens we all share in life.
Who’d a thunk: in case you are actually interested in the scatological nature of geckos, I just found this below online:
“Lizard droppings have white tips due to the process of reptile elimination: Both feces and urine exit their body through the same opening, the cloaca. Lizards are very water-efficient, and their urine is quite concentrated. The white tip on the droppings is uric acid crystals.” Source: http://www.geckosunlimited.com/
You can find other photos for the DP Photo Challenge here: Beneath Your Feet
You can find other patients in Dr. Lucile’s Photo Rehab here: Photo Rehab
You can find more mundane photos at Trablogger’s: Mundane Monday