My husband just reminded me that one year ago, we were on an airplane to Bali.
What a spectacular adventure, a luscious and very, very different place from where I call home in the Pacific Northwest. It was an entertaining series of connections, hilarious events, and profound beauty and adventure.
I must admit….I was nervous as we got on the airplane. Even the plane was unusual. Many of the people didn’t speak English, a humongous jet plane with 500+ people flying half way across the globe to Taipei.
And then another plane for yet another six hours or so all the way to the island of Bali in Indonesia.
I will never forget that very first night someplace brand new. People have them from time to time in their lives. The first night on a vacation, the first night in a new home, the first night after a huge change has occurred in life.
Before life was one way, now life is another way.
Our first night in Bali, as we climbed into the beautiful bed very tired after a huge number of hours traveling….
….there were sounds.
I mean, not just a bird call through the tall jungle trees. I’m talking SOUNDS.
Chirps, hums, hoots, howls, scampers, thumps, flapping.
We turned the light back on.
I glanced toward the bedside table at the half-eaten chocolate bar a good friend gave us for the journey. It was covered with swarming ants.
I had no idea, in a million years, that I would have the thought, almost like a feeling without thought….
….I am not safe.
Logically, I already knew I was safe. We’re in a gorgeous wood-carved elegant grass-roofed bungalow, the windows are unlatched and open to an inky warm night.
I chuckled to my husband and we tried connecting to internet but knew there wasn’t any.
We turned the light off again.
I was perhaps just barely drifting off, finally, when all of the sudden a loud sound kind of like a kazoo blasting through our room, followed by the call being repeated softer, softer, softer, then silence.
Was that a bird? What the heck?
Light on again. My heart beating fast.
Fortunately for me (and for my husband) I have The Work. I felt very anxious and was having a hard time going to sleep. I asked myself….is it true that I am not safe?
I’m not sure. My heart is beating. This is very different. So, yes.
Can you be absolutely certain, that you aren’t safe in that situation?
No. Humans live here.
How do I react when I think something isn’t safe?
This doesn’t have to be visiting another country. The wave of nervousness or anxiety might come over you some time. What happens when you believe it is true? That it means something real?
RUN! HELP! PANIC! HIDE!
Often, after the initial fearful experience, the mind kicks in trying to take over running, analyzing, and understanding the situation.
But who would you be without the thought that you are not safe? That you are threatened? That you need a solution, NOW?
“It is easy to be swept away by some overwhelming feeling, so it’s helpful to remember that any stressful feeling is like a compassionate alarm clock that says, ‘You’re caught in the dream’.” ~ Byron Katie
This is truly profound to consider, just in your own imagination, who you would be without the belief that you are not safe.
You might go to sleep (that’s what I did!)
You might laugh, you might sob, you’d feel alive, full of peace, powerful, direct, in the flow, receptive, open, clear, connected, awed, friendly, expectant, still.
I continue to practice recognizing this deep, underlying belief that I am not safe, wasn’t safe before, and will not be safe again in the future.
I turn the thought around: I am safe.
What does “safe” even mean? What do I think is threatened here? Who is this “I” who is unsafe or safe?
Some days later after that first night, we met with good friends from Seattle and were staying in another area. We saw a big lizard about 8 inches long on the wall, with little suction feet.
Someone said, “oh, you hear those guys all the time with their big one-time call at night like a big warning bell that starts loud and gets softer and softer.”
WOW! THAT was what startled me so wildly I couldn’t sleep? It’s so tame looking, it doesn’t bite people, and they even have stories about the interpretation of how many beats the sounds last and what those might mean.
And I notice I was safe, whether I “knew” what the sound was or not.
Remembering that incredible adventure now, the exotic, unusual, wonderful air, the smells, the land, the feel….
….I delight in seeing that whatever I imagine needs protection is not exactly “mine” (or even “real”) in the first place: my body, my identity, my country, my relationship, my money, my home.
Traveling to Bali offered the experience of swimming in the sea of this reality, without knowing what it means.
That can happen right here, right now, no matter where you are, familiar or new.
“There is no greater illusion than fear, no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself, no greater misfortune than having an enemy. Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe.” ~ Tao Te Ching #46
In this moment, I look around with fresh new eyes at the computer screen, the leaves in the wind through the glass window, I feel the chair beneath me, I hear the murmur of people outside walking by.
Feeling the safety of only one important thing, the only thing that’s ever always been here without change, this center within.
Much love, Grace