In Bali, many temples are dedicated to Hanuman, the Monkey God. As such, monkeys are considered sacred and are staple parts of the Balinese Culture. This is evident through the plays they perform, the statues they venerate, and the temples they’ve built. You see it when you enter the Monkey Forest – a place overrun with tourists, yet also deeply dear to the people of Bali. It was at the Monkey Forest that I made my first primate friend—at a safe distance of course—out of this blatant baboon.
After journeying safely through the Monkey Forest, I was certain that all future primate encounters would be uneventful. After all, I followed the rules: no food, no small objects in hand, no chasing, petting, or grabbing the devious creatures. Who were the monkeys to harass me?
What I didn’t factor in, however, was the delicious smell of my feet. There’s no need to deny it: my feet are downright delectable. Or at least that’s one mischievous monkey believed.
During my last birthday, I had one clear goal in mind: to travel outside of the country before I had another one. I put that goal aside when I was accepted into the Peace Corps because I was about to spend two years in a foreign country – which seemed to more than fulfill my desire.
But then that dream was postponed and the next thing I knew, I was purchasing a roundtrip ticket to Bali and using the time to cross a few things off my bucket list.
- Go on a Silent Retreat? Check
- Visit some Temples? Check
- Embrace yoga and meditation? Check
- Learn to Surf? Check
- Hike up Gunung Agung? Okay, I didn’t get around to doing this – as I was in no shape for the 12 hour vertical climb – but all the more reason to return again for this particular spiritual journey.
While I was in Bali, I was taken by the extreme kindness and openness of the Balinese people. Although it was easy to see where the Australian crowd, as well as the EPL women, have infiltrated some of the local traditions and ways, it was also easy to see the tones of welcome that echoed throughout the island. Equally as easy to hear was the roosters that echoed every morning and the musical chants of worship that echoed throughout the day.
What I loved most about Bali was the smell.
Everywhere I walked, it smelled like incense – the world was their church and their temple – and there wasn’t a moment that you forgot it.
Life isn’t one size fits all. Or ever 100,000 sizes fits most. We all have our individual journeys; we all have a different path to Truth. Don’t be afraid to walk it.
A couple weeks ago, I received some disappointing news. For reasons, I can only describe as Peace Corps Logic, I was informed of the decision to cancel the Morocco cohort that was to leave in September. I had just sent in my passport the week previously; I had printed off about a dozen trees worth of information in mankind’s biggest binder, and now everything seemed for naught.
I’d given the email a cursory glance on my phone between tasks at work; I quickly left my office to find a quiet place to read it in through – hoping that this email, which stated: “I understand how difficult and disappointing this news is to receive” was some kind of misunderstanding.
It felt like an understatement at the time. When I make the decision to chase my dreams, I hold on tightly. This situation is no different. Despite all of that, however, I believe it’s important that when disappointment comes your way, you have to use it as a means to open yourself wider to this experience called life. And so, I thought I’d give you a few simple strategies that I find helpful when dealing with disappointment.
I spend two evenings a week English tutoring a young Afghan woman. I absolutely adore working with her. Seriously, I’m only supposed to do it for about 90 minutes, but I easily spend four hours there.
Of course, it helps that she feeds me such delicious food!
Since I’ve been tutoring her, it’s helped me realize many things about myself. More specifically, it’s helped me realize how truly intimidating coming to a country with only the basic knowledge of a language.
I believe it’s safe to say that the language immersion aspect of the Peace Corps experience can seem overwhelming. If I am unable to learn the language, how am I going to function on even the most basic level of my job?
It doesn’t matter if I’m in America or Morocco, there are some narratives that need to be transformed. Street harassment is one of them.
How do you find clarity when you have no control over the outcome? Waiting for a Peace Corps interview is tough, that’s why it is important to embrace the uncertainty and use it as a time of self-examination.
If the dead could talk, what do you think they would say to you? I think they would remind us to make the most of every moment. Don’t let those minutes pass you by and never be afraid to embrace your life dream.
Do you know where you’re going? Sometimes the path you’re on doesn’t take you to where you long to be. When that happens, don’t be afraid to forge a new trail.