What Bali's offerings taught me about letting go
They're everywhere. You can't walk a more than a few feet in Bali without needing to navigate around an offering. They're on the ground, in the road, on top of shop signs, teetering on the handlebars of a scooter, stacked high on temple steps, spilling out of cubby holes cut into the black stone buildings, giant statues all decked out and dressed up with fresh flowers and colorful fabrics...everywhere.
I'm not here to give a historical and/or religious lesson about Bali's infamous offerings (perhaps another post at another time). I am here to tell you what, within less than 24 hours on this island, these offerings taught me about letting go.
In the welcome materials at my Airbnb, my host introduced the staff with photos, bios, and descriptions of their roles on the property. One particular detail about one particular man stuck with me. He's one of the grounds keepers, particularly in and around the pool area. I learned that one of his favorite things to do throughout the day is pick up the flowers that fall from the trees and add them to altars scattered around the property. That is so beautiful to me.
As I swam last night and again this afternoon, I noticed each flower that fell. Bougainvillea so papery delicate and bright pink against the turquoise water, plumeria so thick and shocking white against the navy blue deep end of the pool. There was such a tangible, cyclical energy to it all. I teared up as I realized, it's finally time to let go. Everyone assumes I let go when I quit my job, or when I sold all my stuff, or got on that train and then got on that plane... but all of these goodbyes are just the beginning. I know that deep down in my cells. There's more to it.
Back to the flowers in the pool, the countless altars: No one here frets about the flowers falling. No one mourns the loss of the flowers now gone from the trees. No one is trying to control when and where and how the flowers fall or don't fall. The grounds keeper isn't 'keeping' Nature at all, he's just wandering around following Her lead. They don't lose sleep over this process of decay, they simply know that it is. They gather up the pieces, they bless them, they love them, they let them rot away. All the while, they carry on, always adding more flowers, more love, more offerings dedicated to some power beyond themselves.
How many fallen flowers - in other words beliefs, relationships, and habits that served their purpose - did I try to hold on to, control, put back in the place I thought they should go, mourned, not blessed?
This solo trip around the world - (un)scheduled for an indefinite amount of time - is a study in extremes. Of course it's about learning and soaking up as many new philosophies and ways of life as I possibly can; but it's almost more so about unlearning. I need to unlearn the belief that stuff makes you happy. I need to unlearn the habit of foods that don't heal my autoimmunity and fuel my healthy body. I need to unlearn the stories I've let be true in my romantic relationships. I need to let the flowers fall where they may. I need to release the fear that keeps me spinning in a cycle of "never enough." In Brene Brown's new book Rising Strong she says: "The opposite of scarcity isn't abundance, it's simply enough."
I need to gather up the pieces of everything that has fallen away thus far, bless it, love it, let it rot. All the while, I'll carry on with my great adventure, always adding more beliefs, relationships, and habits that serve my higher self, adding more love, more offerings dedicated to some power beyond myself.
Love + the cycle of it all,
P.S. If you're not following me on Instagram, you're missing out. If Instagram isn't your thing, all of my photos push to Twitter and the Series of Adventures Facebook page. I'm finding pretty consistent wifi in Indonesia and seriously, my photo feed is kinda gorgeous right now. See you over there!