November 3, 2016
The Chicago Cubs won the World Series today! I got the news earlier this afternoon because the time difference is 11 hours between Bali and Wrigley Field and the game ended there just after midnight Chicago time.
I’m walking the shoreline of the Indian Ocean now, my feet in about six inches of warm surf. To my right rolls sparkling water with lots of people bobbing and, further out, a few surfers where the waves are bigger and more to their liking. Nice, serene almost. To the left, however, a party rages. Here the beach belongs to one of Seminyak’s larger hotels. Pulsating rap music rises off the crowd and floats toward me. A good time is being had by all.
Except me. I’m by myself and feeling lonely. I’ve given up trying to talk to someone about the Cubs. My Balinese taxi driver had no idea what I was talking about. “Base bowl?” he asks. I haven’t met many Americans in Bali and Aussie is definitely the primary language spoken on this beach…and I haven’t heard anyone say, “Cubs.”
I see a good number of families on vacation here. That’s really the reason for my melancholy state. My wife died from cancer eight years ago and my three kids are back in the U.S., out on their own living grown up, busy lives. Walking away from the rap music now, I recall our family vacations on the beaches of California, Hawaii, North Carolina, Massachusetts and other places, me chasing giggling toddlers across warm sand or rocking infants to sleep in rented condos. To this day, even though my children are in their twenties and thirties I still can recall the sensation of cradling them as babies in my right arm.
I keep walking, kicking through the surf each time a wave reaches me. I find a peaceful stretch away from any music and rest in a chair that is free to sit in as long as I buy a Bintang, the local beer. Through yoga I know loneliness can be faced head on, thought about and dealt with properly. Whenever I focus on helping someone when teaching yoga – or at anytime, really – or just being kind, reaching out to others, all starts to seem right in the world. I think about a quote I saw on a wall at the Kripalu Yoga Center in Massachusetts. I was bouncing down the stairs and there it was: “Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Two people riding horses along the shoreline pass in front of the setting sun. I get closer, pull out my iPhone and take a photo. Bali is amazing. I remind myself how lucky I am to be here…now…at this very moment.
Nearby, a young couple are taking photos of each other doing yoga poses. I drift over and ask if they want me to take one of them together. “Yes!” they exclaim as if they’ve been waiting a long time for someone to come along and offer. I’m happy, and take a bunch because they keep smiling, posing and hugging. They thank me several times. I find out they are from Japan, working in marketing. I tell them that’s what I used to do, before I came here to teach yoga. We talk until darkness starts to take over the beach.
I leave the sand and find the concrete sidewalk heading toward my hotel, a Courtyard about five blocks away. When I traveled a lot for my marketing work in the U.S. and Canada I often stayed at Courtyards, so I know them well…or so I thought. This one has a security set up at the lobby entrance similar to an airport. Never seen that before. There were, unfortunately, terrorist attacks earlier this year in nearby Jakarta. Or maybe it’s because they have a money exchange office and ATM in the lobby…or all of the above. This is also the nicest Courtyard I’ve stayed at. The pool and grounds are tremendous. Almost back to the hotel, I recall being told by the Balinese woman at check in today about an evening welcome party featuring Indonesian food, drink and entertainment on the lawn near the pool. It should be happening now. “Please come and meet our team,” she said.
I pass through hotel security and find the party. Overhead, lights and decorations have been strung for the occasion. Food stations dot the perimeter. About twenty yards away I spot the woman from check in and wave. She smiles and saunters through the small crowd of other hotel workers and guests over to me.
“You made it,” she says. That long dark hair, milk chocolate brown skin, radiant.
“I did. Thank you for the invitation.” I see she is still in her Marriott uniform. “And you put in a long work day.”
Just then music erupts and three local dancers appear. We take a seat and watch. Afterwards, we applaud and talk into the pleasantly warm night.