We board the plane for five hours to Guam. We have to line up for inspection at Customs and it seems to take forever. Guam's the pits, we decide. Hot, muggy, nothing to do for another three hours, because we can't leave the airport. As we stare out the windows, we see nothing remotely resembling Bali's beauty.
At last, all aboard for seven hours to Honolulu. Here Joan leaves to spend a week in Hawaii with her daughter and granddaughter. U.S. Customs here seems much more efficient than Guam's. All we do is ID our luggage. They didn't even open it, but I assume they X-rayed it. So far my suitcase has made it on the same planes I've been on. Myrna and I find each other. We'll be on the same flight for Los Angeles. Only an hour layover this time. I hurry to the gift shop and finally find a couple of T-shirts for Conan. It's Friday, June 15 for us, we realize, even though in Bali, it's now Saturday! We have picked up our lost day.
After a looong night's journey into day, we land in Los Angeles at 6 a.m. Myrna and I locate each other once more. Both of us have a three-hour lay-over. We hear our stomachs growling, so we search out a place where we can assuage the pangs. After breakfast, we stroll in the general direction of our gates.
At the Denver gate we spot Don. He's mightily upset! The airline has overbooked. Even though he's the first to appear with a first-class ticket, the officials tell him he has to wait until all the other first-class tickets holders show up before they'll decide who will have to be left behind! Myrna and I choose to leave the area as Don starts to launch a verbal missive at the officials from the depths of his mind!
At last Myrna and I must say our final goodbyes. I feel sad as I board my plane and find my seat. Originally I'd booked a non-stop flight both ways across the country. But just before I left for Bali, Continental scrubbed both those flights. So now I must change planes in Cleveland--which means an hour or two longer getting home.
FINALLY, after five different planes and 36 unwashed hours after leaving Bali, I trudge off the fifth plane in Philadelphia. I take a few discrete whiffs and ascertain that my Thai deodorant stone has served me well once more. And, wonder of wonders, there's my suitcase waiting for me on the carousel!
During my two weeks in Paradise, I have observed the Balinese people. From ages two to 82, their backs ram-rod straight, their heads held high and their eyes aglow, these beautiful people move and live in grace. They seem to know that they are one with God and Mother Earth. Every day they celebrate Life with every activity. Their serenity has charmed and enchanted me. Unperturbed, they even seem to enjoy getting stuck in traffic jams! The Balinese don't get emotionally involved when a tourist gets upset at schedule delays. The Balinese realize that the tourist's upset is the tourist's problem, and therefore, don't make it their own.
A popular philosophy here in the USA states that as we get older, gravity having pulled on our bodies all our lives, our heads sink forward, our spines slouch, our bellies sag, our shoulders hunch. But gravity pulls the same on Balinese bodies, too. So, why do the Balinese still have perfect posture in old age? Why don't THEIR bodies sag like ours?
I've concluded that we ALLOW the gravity of our situations to turn into PROBLEMS that weight us down. The Balinese don't turn situations into problems. Their situations sometimes must be serious, but they don't perceive these situations as having gravity! All situations that happen are part of Life, to be celebrated and enjoyed the same as all other aspects of life!
The Balinese have given me two precious gifts:
1) The peculiar repetitive metallic rhythms and melodies of the Barong performance allowed me to un-dance my own past performances. To unlock and unlearn. To release past behavioral patterns. To free up more spaces in my emotional closet for the stuff that's now "in vogue"--from my present perspective.
2) By their example, the people taught me that to remain centered and to be able to enjoy all aspects of my activities, I don't have to BE anything--except myself!
As I write these last paragraphs, four months later, I remain light and centered and am able to enjoy even those aspects of life I formerly considered unenjoyable--like traffic jams! I only hope that somehow I was able to leave something of value for the Balinese--in addition to my money!
Florence W. Deems
March, 2009: As I type this journal onto a website to share with others, I've reflected on my life for the past almost-19 years. The Bali High gradually wore off and I reverted to some of my old emotional and behavior patterns, I'm sad to say. But also, I've worked on regaining my center that I'd found in Bali. And so now, for the past few years, I can say that I've almost regained that Bali High!
And now in November, 2010, although I've never regained all of my Bali High, I've come close on many occasions. I just wish that flying weren't such a big hassle these days, because I'd go back to Bali in a heart beat. The charming little hotel in Ubud where Joan, Don and I stayed has upgraded itself, but I think that enough of its character has remained that I'd feel at home again there. I'd also love to go back to Borobudur, but recently Mt. Merapi, the Fire Mountain, has again erupted. Many people have been displaced from its slopes and general area. I hope it doesn't totally destroy everything between it and Borobudur. I hope, too, that those Javanese teenagers grew up successfully and now do appreciate their cultural heritage that they were so intent upon disrespecting 20 years ago.
September 18, 2014: Upon re-reading my Bali High journal, and reflecting upon maintaining my center and joy/happiness, I realize that although lots of "stuff" has happened since I wrote four years ago, I still have my center. But missing from my life are Don and Joan, both of whom, I hope, are experiencing a Bali-type Heaven. They truly deserve to be fully happy now and totally surrounded by the Highest Love. Perhaps it was Ganesh who helped them make this biggest of all changes we humans make in our lives.
Ganesh, I believe, is an aspect of our Almighty Source from which all of us come. It really doesn't matter by what names we refer to our Source or our Source's different aspects. Sometimes it's just easier for people to relate to a particular aspect of all the possible energies and aspects of our Source.
And this is why various cultures have lots of saints and gods and goddesses. No one culture has the total picture, and so they label various parts with special names. Ganesh represents, to the Balinese people, that aspect of our Source that helps us make the necessary changes we must make if we are to progress spiritually. And so I mean no disrespect towards any religion by the statement I made about Ganesh helping Don and Joan. All of us should be respectful of others' beliefs - if we want others to be respectful of our beliefs.