I was riding my bike the other day, listening to a Rob Bell podcast in which he was interviewing Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat. Pray. Love., among other books. I love Elizabeth Gilbert. I mean, I loved her when I read her book. In fact, I read her book at least 3 or 4 times. But now that social media exists, and she posts so many beautiful, inspirational things, I love her even more.
I also love Rob Bell. He’s got this way of sharing God with the world that makes people want what he is experiencing. He’s not preachy. He’s just all about love. And some of the things that come out of his mouth are so prolific. I mean, he’ll say something, and it will just make so much sense it seems like it’s a no-brainer. Except, it’s not a no-brainer until he addresses it in plain words, and then breaks it down even more.
The man is a genius.
So a podcast with both Elizabeth Gilbert and Rob Bell? Priceless – especially since, at the time the podcast was recorded, they were in the middle of a speaking tour with Oprah full of soulful stuff, and they were riding that wave high.
At any rate, there I was, riding my bike, and Liz (we’re on nickname basis) started talking about how people will come up to her and seek her permission to be able to do things. In her words, it’s like they’re looking for a principal’s note to quit the crappy part of their life and start living the part they’ve always dreamed of. Quit a dead-end job. Leave the abusive husband. Sell everything and travel across the world.
My mind wandered, and I was suddenly in Bali. Not really, but my heart was. Ever since I read Eat. Pray. Love., it’s been my dream to visit Bali and experience the peace that Liz experienced when she found herself there. Like Liz, I went through a soul crushing divorce. And then, even more crushing, were the messy romances that followed, and how I threw my poor, tender heart into them when I had no place throwing that sensitive little thing anywhere.
But Bali… It was my answer. It was where I would find peace and love and serenity and answers and….
Well, not really. I realize this now. There’s no place you can go to find absolute peace. There’s no thing that can offer you absolute solace. Leaving your prick of a husband won’t give you peace. Quitting your job won’t give you peace. Selling everything and moving to Bali won’t give you peace.
But know how you can have peace? By focusing on the beauty around you. By remembering what fills your soul, and then surrounding yourself with more of that. By immersing yourself in friendship and love. By understanding that life is too short to put so much energy into the things that are killing you, and to, instead, put your energy into the things that give you life. By taking all those things you would like to do someday, and doing them today. Write that book. Take that dance class. Learn a new language. Travel to a foreign country. Exercise. Do yoga. Read more. Watch TV less. Stop and notice the world. Breathe in. Breathe out. Smile.
Back to riding my bike….
As Liz was speaking, and I was in a Bali state of mind, I realized that I was already in Bali. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. The sunsets, as of late, have been absolutely breathtaking, and the light was casting this ethereal glow across the golden fields I was riding next to. During the day, these fields are just dingy side effects of the massive drought California is going through. But on this evening, they were truly fields of gold. And then, right next to them were pathways lined in green trees and draping leaves. People were out performing all kinds of activities in the summer heat, and were quick to greet me as I rode by. And my soul was so full of peace I was sure it was radiating out of my pores, through the spokes of my bicycle, and cascading in sparks all around me.
You guys, I was bleeding rainbows.
So yeah. I still want to go to Bali. I still dream of a time when stress is at a minimum and peace only grows by the moment. But I also know that Bali isn’t my absolute answer, and peace starts with me.
I want to go to Bali. This is what I tell my husband all the time. I want to go to Bali and stay in a little one room house in the jungle, one with open doors and windows and curtains that flow in the wind. I want to see all the townspeople and watch them, and then I want to go home and sit on the porch of my one room house and write about them. Most of all, I want to ride my bike all over Bali. I want be free in the wind, just using my pedals to get me anywhere I need to go.
I think the part I love most about my dream of riding my bike all over Bali is the thought of being totally free. Free from worry. Free from stress. Free from the things I don’t want to do, or have to do, or obligate myself to do. I don’t have to be anything for anyone.
If I were in Bali, I could just be me, riding the whole world on a little island.
But the truth is, Bali is here. The island might be halfway across the world, but the frame of mind exists within me.
I live in a little town called Petaluma. It has rolling hills, friendly people, and gorgeous sunsets. It also has bills and jobs and obligations and all the must-dos to make sure the can-dos happen. But on a gorgeous evening like this, I can still take my bike out and be free. Free from worry. Free from stress. Free from the things I don’t want to do, or have to do, or obligate myself to do. Not forever. But in the moment. Just for the moment. I am free in the moment.
I’m in Bali.