Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Contrast: oh so useful!

I woke up totally disoriented again this morning, wondering what town in Bali I was in. [This also happened to me yesterday in yoga, following a savasana in which I slipped into a coma-sleep from which I awakened with a start, wondering "who is this stranger talking and where am I?"]

As soon as I realized this morning that I wasn't in Bali anymore and that instead of going to breakfast and practice, I was actually expected to get up and go to work, I had a sense of everything collapsing into one boring sameness.  Which made me a crabby little creature for an hour at least.

I'm making a big effort to go back in memory (assisted by the hundreds of photos we took) to what made this vacation so fantastic.  Largely it was Bali herself, the people themselves, and the dozens of daily ways in which they added a little beauty and grace to every little task.  Like the offering above, in the driveway of Kumara Sakti in Ubud -- an offering of flowers in a little woven basket, put out with some incense first thing in the morning, even though it was sure to be kicked by passers-by and run over by entering vehicles.  No matter what might happen to it, the beautiful gesture was still made, daily, more than once.

The contrast between vacation-life and this, between vacation-me and this, is so sharp, it's a little painful, actually.  I'm trying to regard that pain with gratitude, trying very hard to make something good out of this dejection.  And aware of how ridiculous I am to complain about anything.  After all, almost three weeks in Bali is a great thing, right, something so lucky and wonderful, so how can I complain upon return?  Wah-wah, poor me.  Totally lame.

But really, it's a sharp contrast.

When I opened my eyes this morning, after that first confusion receded and I began to make out the profile of the familiar plants of our garden outside the French doors in the first light of day, I noticed the piles of still unput-away unpacked stuff all over my room.  First task du jour: putting that crap away.

If it's beautiful in Bali, it's largely due to constant effort.  Those offerings don't make themselves, after all.

It was bound to happen that I'd experience this post-vacation crash -- seems inevitable, really -- but I really am trying to make the best of it, transferring the lessons learned in Bali to this life here and now.  OK, so putting away my clothes isn't quite as nice as making an offering of flowers and rice and incense and a little piece of candy and setting it out to beautify the sidewalk, but it's a start.

I'm reminded of a theme on the retreat: sankalpa (intention), which is the combination of two words meaning clarity and purpose.  A person needs clarity to see purpose, to keep purpose sharp in the field of vision so that she can move toward it, consistently, devotedly.  This contrast right now is doing this for me: albeit painfully, helping me stay clear about my own purpose so that I can keep moving toward it.

So if there's nothing on Craig's List right now that allows me to move out of a job that bores me to tears and gives me headaches, that's OK.  It'll come.  Meanwhile, I'll keep fashioning my own little offerings -- a clean room, a strong practice, a thriving garden -- doing the work to make this life beautiful, no matter its conditions, until the time I can change those circumstances and move on to the thing that makes most sense for me.

Until then, making consistent beautiful gestures.  Because actually, those consistent beautiful gestures are the whole point, right?



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