Learning to Embrace Life
During the beginning of my trip to Bali, I didn’t know how to spend my days. I was used to being a work-a-holic, creating distractions in my life, filling it with unnecessary tasks and burdens. It was a challenge for me, just trying to tune in and ask myself: Karla, you can do anything you want to do today, what will it be? What do you want for your life? How do you want to create it? How do you want it to shift?
I was wandering around observing, soaking it in, relaxing, watching the fishing boats, admiring the simple lives of the locals, and allowing the ocean to teach me and speak to me. The waves were consistent yet uncontrollable as life; never knowing what the tide would bring in or how high it would be. I became fascinated by the spirituality and rituals of the Balinese locals and the kindness they exuded.
I decided to trust a local instructor, Rodney, to teach me how to surf. While I loved water sports and grew up on a lake, I was alone, in Bali. What if I hurt myself? This was the real deal big ocean after all, with some 10-foot waves. I didn’t have insurance. My instructor quickly advanced me from the “training” waves off to the real ones, which brought on so much fear. I didn’t know how to read the waves, I didn’t have a life jacket on, I wasn’t in a lake, I couldn’t touch down. When he said “paddle,” I had to paddle; there was no messing around, those waves will take you down.
While you are sitting out on the board waiting for your wave, you have a lot of time to think. What the waves taught me were there was no time for doubt or second guessing yourself, when it was go time, it was go time. You had to paddle and stand up with confidence and zero hesitation or the wave, aka life, was going to take you down. It taught me that you can’t fight the waves; they are so strong, you have absolutely no choice but to embrace them and ride it out, whatever they throw at you.
I was in awe at Rodney’s ability to read the waves, although he his formal education stopped at high school, his ability to read the ocean and nature was pure talent. He had calmness to him, was fully present and could therefore keep us safe and riding the waves because he was so tuned in with the ocean, with the universe.
Just like life, we often can’t always control what is being thrown at us, and when we try to fight it, we just end up underwater spitting seawater out of our noses. We must listen to the waves and to nature.
After my surf lesson, I then took off for a new adventure to Ubud. Remember the famous healer, Ketut, from Eat, Pray, Love? I went to his manor. In Bali, they really don’t have addresses like we do in the U.S. You tell your driver the village and the street and they seem to know more based on the family name. Ubud is a small village away from the busier tourist area I had been in. As I arrived at my new lodging, I somehow met another couple and ended up signing up for a pre-dawn hike up Mt. Batur.
It was dark and quiet the next morning at 3:00am. I was instructed to wear pants or tall socks. It was surprisingly peaceful as we met up and our driver arrived. We were on about a 2-hour ride to the base of the volcano where we met our guide for the hike. I had no idea what I was getting into, that’s kind of the beauty of not planning ahead and having everything planned out. I had no idea how long the hike was, what to expect, how things would be. This was so different from how I typically operate; wanting to plan everything out, knowing in advance and researching to prepare myself. I was living from a place of curiosity–about whom I really was without all the distractions of life, observing how I was dealing with being uncomfortable, and finding what did bring me comfort.
We took off, hiking 100M up the volcano with tiny flashlights, just slightly bigger than one you would carry on a keychain. It was pitch black. All you could see was little lights, headed up this volcano, like ants marching in the night, on a mission to be a witness to nature’s rising, to light beginning to filter in through the dark.
Why does it take so many of us going half-way around the world, getting up by 3:00 am and hiking up a volcano to stop and appreciate the beauty that is shown to us each?
Wherever we are in the world, we really have the opportunity to see the sunrise everyday.