I have just two practices left, flying to Bangkok on Friday morning.

Nearly 7 weeks have passed.  I wonder whether I should feel guilty about all the temples I haven’t seen, the waters I haven’t swam in, the dances I didn’t go to, or the art galleries that remain unchecked on that to-do list I wrote back in January.  Am I disappointed by the lack of Balinese I picked up, and the fact that I still can’t quite work out what Mawa’s father is called?

Ordinarily I would say yes.  Yes of course.  What a wasted opportunity.  Why haven’t I immersed myself in this ornate, smiling culture?  Ordinarily I would have probably made stuff up, to make it look like I had.  Spent a few days doing exactly the things I haven’t done, just so I could post pictures on facebook to reassure my friends back home of my adventurous spirit.

But, how many things do we do each day with our peers’ perceptions of us, and who we should be steering the way?  It has always been a particular weakness of mine.  Well, in a positive light, a weakness that helps one strive to be a better person.  Recycling, even on those lazy days, putting that tenner towards someone’s fundraising venture instead of going out that night for a couple of pints, watching that documentary about something mind-bogglingly political, instead of laughing indiscriminately to Scrubs on E4.

Not that I’m suggesting these things wouldn’t happen without such encouragement, it’s just that sometimes it’s what people would think of me, as opposed to what I want to do for myself, that drives my actions.

I’m sure, that if I had put more of my energies into doing all the things we are meant to do when we travel, my experience here would be richer in a cultural context.  I would have been letting Bali in, and as a result, taken a bit of Bali with me wherever I go.  But, even before I booked my flights, I knew that this journey wasn’t going to be about that – especially this first chapter.

I arrived heavy.  Bags bursting at the seams, lungs packed tight with nicotine, stomach clogged with wintry feasts, and a tightly wound mind and heart that’s just starting to unravel, with unsettling rapidity.  I’m not here to pick things up.  I’m here to let things go.

I’ll be packing up my room in 2 days time, and wonder what I’ll be leaving behind.  It’s hard for me to tell right now, where I’ve got to, how far I’ve come.  There have been so many hurdles, inner conflicts, and physical blocks, that I can’t remember what the start was like.  I’m trying not to spend much time dwelling on the past, or speculating about the future…and so I have to accept that there are no measures.  But there is a feeling, there is a something that I can’t quite define.

In slowly shifting my energies towards transition…packing up, planning goodbyes, checking my flights…it feels right.  It feels, like I’m ready.  Whatever it was that I needed to do for myself here in Ubud, it’s done.  I don’t know what Thailand holds for me.  I’m not going to set any parameters, or benchmarks, write long lists of expectations – I’m just going to let it unfold and see what happens…

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