I’m sitting in The Loft, a cafe in Canggu, my favourite city in Bali so far. In the middle of a cloud of the smell of coffee and the fumes of motorcycles that cruise down the main street towards the beach. Then there’s the sound of people chatting, infused with a coffeehouse playlist which I already know from yesterday. The ventilator on the ceiling rotates cool air towards me. It is not nearly enough to cool me or my buzzing thoughts down but that’s okay. I like the heat. I even like the sweat that comes with it in contrast to many of my friends which I left back in Japan about a week ago. The heat makes me feel alive like a funny haematocryal creature that runs around once the sun kisses its body. Awakened by an extra boost of hot summery energy (and probably also the two coffees I already had today).

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It’s just been one week and Bali already taught me a lot. At first, I was disappointed. To me, Bali is not the paradise as which most people describe it. Or as which I imagined it to be from all the things I had seen on Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, I really like it here! I love exploring different places and I especially enjoy the vibe of the people who live, work or travel here. But Bali is not a paradise for me. At least not this time. Maybe the next time I’m coming back. Maybe not.

“Why?” you want to know? I couldn’t tell you. Maybe it’s because, until the day before our flight to Denpasar, we didn’t even know if we could come here because of the first big earthquake and the active volcano on the island. Maybe it’s because we were greeted by another earthquake the first evening we spent here. Maybe it’s because my friend’s wallet got stolen later that same night. Or maybe it’s because I had and still have a lot going on in my life which keeps my mind busy, gives me that uncomfortable and restless feeling. I’m saying goodbye to a lot of people and memories from the past semester in Japan, have to prepare myself for even more in the next, and final semester in the Netherlands whilst coping with the things I’m loading onto my plate right here. Right now.

All that together makes it difficult to dive into the magical Bali-life. To always go with the Balinese flow, relax completely and take in everything new.

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I went from Osaka via Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar. Stayed in Kuta for two nights, moved on to Ubud for three days and am now spending six days in Canggu until I’ll go back to a hotel close to the airport in Denpasar from where I’ll take off again to Hanoi, Vietnam.

I am fully aware that this is a privilege. And I do my best not to take anything for granted. I feel blessed and am truly grateful to be able to live this beautiful life, moving from one place to the other, constantly learning and soaking up all experiences possible. But I think I’ve come to the point where the “experience-sponge” in me is full. That sponge, usually always thirsty for more, is now simply oversaturated.
It took me a while to understand that and I still haven’t fully accepted it because I’m habitually longing for more. But I think it’s just natural that at some point, we simply can’t take in any more.

And then:
we have to take
a break.

A break to process everything and to take the time to enjoy all the experiences, the different flavours that this “sponge” has soaked up. I know that, if I don’t take a break now, I’ll end up with a cocktail of experiences that tastes like it’s been mixed together by a wannabe barkeeper who only used the worst ingredients and, to round it off, accidentally spilt half of my drink which is why he filled it up with water. To save what can be saved.

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I don’t want that. I want to taste the full flavour of every experience I make. I want to indulge in it and then add it to my precious conglomeration of learnings and things that were part of my life for longer or shorter. Maybe share it with others, maybe keep it to myself. I came to see that my cocktail is not made of bad ingredients. It’s just oversaturated. And taking a break to unravel and explore what you already have- going on- inside you will help you to start again fresh.

A fresh start.
With a clean sponge.
Ready to soak up more.

The past, I don’t know how many weeks, I often felt restless and uncomfortable in my own skin. And now I couldn’t dive into the Bali magic no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t enjoy myself fully and I couldn’t bring joy to the friends I travelled with.

So guess what I did?

I took a break.

The original plan had been to spend the last couple of days in Uluwatu to see more of Bali but something told me that I needed time for myself. So my friends moved on to the next stop and I stayed in Canggu. Alone. Or rather, with myself.

Only now I can see that my sponge of experiences, my mind and my heart were oversaturated. And I think they still are but at least I’ve taken the first step to unravel and give myself the space to breathe. To taste the flavours I already have already collected. And you know what? It’s just my second day of being alone and I’m getting excited again for what is yet to come on this trip through Asia. I think that’s a good sign.

Bali taught me, that I have to listen to myself more and make sure that I’m ready for all the things I want to do. Otherwise, I might as well stay at home and watch movies about the places I want to visit or facetime the people I would meet.

Listening to yourself, however, is easier said than done and rather a process than a final destination. There won’t ever be a point in your life where you say: “Yasssss, I’ve got it all figured out!”

Because life is change.
And that’s good.
And because life is learning:
Learning about others, about yourself.

And to be able to take things in and learn, you have to be open for it. You have to take the time to listen to others, listen to yourself, read books, listen to podcasts (hint hint such as mine;) and generally expose yourself to other peoples’ opinion. All that whilst, keeping it in a balance to process everything. But I guess that’s the art of living, isn’t it?

Living life, to me right now, is the act of finding a balance in everything I do. So although Bali hasn’t become the paradise I imagined it to be until now, it shook me (also literally in the earthquake) so I came to understand myself a little better. And maybe having an epiphany like that is my kind of paradise?

So thank you Bali!
I can’t wait for what you still have in store for me over the next three days… 

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Thank you for reading my blog post! Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and experiences as a comment or via DM. Remember, I’m a curious creature and love to interact with you!

All the sunshine to you!
@Phyllosophia