Bali Bound (part 5)

The Bali astrology conference with Rick and Jeff has come to an end. Everyone has learned a lot.

A few thoughts about our hosts, the Balinese people. Even though Indonesia is an Islamic nation, 90% of the residents of this particular small island (and only this island) in the 2000-mile long Indonesian archipelago are Hindu. Interestingly, each person on Bali is called one of four names: Wayan, Made´, Nyoman or Ketut. And these are not gender specific, but strictly according to birth order (as a result, there are more Wayans, the eldest, than anything ? I am a Wayan). Their naming system, which includes no last names, makes it rather hard to tell them apart when referring to someone. So you might hear something like ?Wayan of the Penestanan bridge? ? and this Wayan could be a man or a woman!

The motto of Bali could very well be that ?life is art.? It is an incredibly verdant environment populated with orchids, birds, flowers, and art. Beauty permeates this society with people who are always smiling. Every day the women set up little flowery offerings, arranged in folded palm-leaf boxes, to the gods at every house?s gateway or even the places where paths intersect between rice fields. This is not to mention the countless little temples set up in trees along the paths!

For a people-person like me, the easy broad smiles of the natives can?t help but brighten up every day. They smile when they say Hallo, they smile when they say No, they smile when they are afraid or embarrassed. Always smiling. Sometimes it makes you wonder what they are really feeling, but then again isn?t that just like my over-analytical western mind to wonder? Maybe they?re just simply happy most of the time. After all, they live in a society that is all about extended family, where everyone derives meaning and satisfaction from feeling that theirs is a secure place in an orderly but relaxed social matrix.

Tomorrow, I fly back to Portland, a 30 hour trip during much of which I will be wearing my humidifier mask. I?m grateful for the fact that for the past 3 weeks, I didn?t need to wear any masks at all ? just to smile!