GROUND. The solid surface of the earth; firm or dry land.
GROUNDED. Well balanced and sensible.
UNGROUNDED. Having no basis or justification; unfounded.
Entering my second year in Bali and being today the welcoming day to new parents, I find myself feeling like a veteran in the Green School and I was only a newcomer last year. I have grown so much that it feels like an entire life. I feel so isolated from the rest of the world yet already so connected to life here and its beauty that I sometimes feel in the land of nobody. Where do I belong?
I don’t know if it matters so much where I come from but where I am going to. This is the real question. In my contiunous cloudy mind, I get confused easily. Maybe I am still overwhelmed at times after being here for over a year. Maybe the cloudiness comes just the consequence of living in such an emotionally unstable place (menacing volcanoes, earthquakes, people entering and leaving my life at a much quicker pace than would want to, changing homes…). But I must aknowledge it, don’t deny that I am changing everyday.
And as a consequence of this unestability, I have grown.
And while I have grown this past school year, I have written a book about personal growth called Grow that will be printed in the upcoming week and presented in Green School soon. That book made me discover a community of learners which are changing the world with their inspiring stories. Another mom from school and I, have interviewed and photographed 24 Green School families and asked them questions about education, change, sustainability, life projects… and it has been a truly magical experience to get to know intimately a community that I love here. The Grow book has helped me a lot to understand the purpose of being here. The purpose of moving to a new country putting the kids education first. Understanding that even thought the kids are attending school, we are learning trough them and growing together.
Even though I have learnt so much in the past year, I find myself having to face a new challenge every day. I went to Green School the first day and I saw my reflection in the antsy new families asking the exact same questions than me last year:
- Where should we live, Canggu or Ubud?
- Should I buy a washing machine?
- Where do you do your groceries?
- Is it normal to be so exhausted?
- And a funny bit anxious: “When will I see you again, will you come to school later?”
It was funny. It was familiar. Some things I am over, but some feelings are still there. The feeling of being scared is still there. Even now more than ever due to the natural phenomenons occurring. But even more scared about a more metaphysical and personal question. As days go by, you become more conscious about what life will look like after this experience.
Where to go next?
I can feel the ungrounding of the new families. So many unresolved questions, so much to unlearn, so much to let go and so many new habits they are diving into. It’s completely overwhelming. Exhausting. When you live back home, we can do things out of our routing, which is something we had conquered over time in an unconscious way, but a new life in a different country requieres some time to feel at ease. As an example, understanding the dynamics of a new life in a 3rd world country and learning their way around the supermarket: many of the vegetables and fruits are unknown and you first end up buying as you would back home the spinach without realizing it´s imported. It will take a while to understand that right next to it, you have “bayam” which is the local version. Also the kitchens are not equiped the same way. Not only that, but its not the kitchen and the tools we have built over time. The driving is not the same, there are unrevealed rules you can only understand after cruising along them for a while. Even the texture of your hair feels dry and curlier and you even hesitate in the morning about what to wear to fight the heat, the rain or even the mosquitoes.
I have unlearnt so many things that I am not sure I want to learn them back when I go back “home”.
The conclusion I arrive at is “be water, my friend”. Watch the cheeky macaques be curious, observant but also playful and brave jumping from one tree to another and letting the vines go right before holding a new one. Can we do that? Can we let go of the vine before grabbing the next one jumping into emptiness?
Community: slowly you will find your place. It will get easier. You will be able to ride without the need of Google Maps. You will learn to carry a poncho everywhere. You will be happy to be able to get on the scooter and be able to ride in the wrong direction if you get lost. You will feel the beauty of living in a tropical country by watch huge butterflies pass right next to your face and observe amazed the size of the leafs grow in unexpected ways. You will also love the beauty of the Balinese ceremonies and smile when you see freshly fallen frangipani flowers in the ground of your garden. You will hear the ceremonies in the background while you have dinner and you will even attend to some if you are invited by some neighbor friends. You will become more familiar with the language and you will be able to start recognizing some words and get smiles back when you say your first sentences. The Balinese chants will not make you feel isolated and one day they will integrate in your daily rutine and they will even soften your expression. And you will also feel proud and emotional when you enter Green School alone about to pick up the kids from the heart of School and when you lay in bed you will even feel a bit scared about your life afterwards.
But you will also feel ungrounded, unwinded and exhausted trying to understand it all. To control it.
I stopped trying.
I learned to let go of my infinite curiosity for answers and just live. I learnt to flow. I try to listen, to see, to find my own answers and not through others. Because we are all different, and we all came here for different reasons. I let my education be in an unconscious way. And navigating with curiosity and an open hear is something I still do everyday finding my way in this complex culture full of nuances and contradictions.
You will feel the gratitude of being a well received guest in Bali, but you will also have to face the challenges that life puts right in front of you and even though they make you feel ungrounded, this is part of your journey. As painful or as inspiring as it is, you are growing. And that is the beauty of all this journey you have chosen. With constant muddy feet, with a changing climate three hundred times in one single day making your plans go in another direction constantly, with the fact of embracing the unexpected, dealing with loneliness, finding energy in the last cell of your body to make it trough the day and also finding extra time to attend all the whatsapps from you new friends and Bali and your life back home. Plus all the extra messages asking about Mount Agung’s activity, earthquakes, helping friends of friends to design their trip in Indonesia. Contradiction? Yes. A bit stressed having a sustainable life here in Bali while not “working”? It’s hard to explain if you don’t live here. But yes, a lot to do with an early urging feeling that the day will be over at 18pm when it starts to get dark.
But it’s beautiful.
Here is my peace of advice that I learnt right away last year. Stay tunned to Nature. Become aligned to her. Don’t fight her, she is much bigger than you. You will become humble, you will feel small when in the city life you felt big. You will be in awe with what she has to give and show you. It’s inifinite. It’s amazing. Be in her side. Don’t fear Mother Nature, respect her.
Go to bed when its dark, wake up with the raising sun. You will feel like meditating while it rises. Go at her pace, listen to her. Discover the full moon days like if they were the last ones you will see. Be amazed of how close Mars is and how orange it shines. Realize how disconnected from Nature we lived in comparison and be grateful for its healing and calming power. Living connected, understanding that even being grounded can be ungrounding is the key. Allow your feelings and emotions to flourish. It’s ok to be scared. It is ok to cry. You might be exhausted. You might be overwhelmed. But it’s all ok. It’s ok to feel unstable. But don’t let it paralize you. Drive right through, you will not die, and the compensation of an open mind and heart is not only infinte, but full of amazing surprises.
Welcome to Bali.