There was a full moon last night, a lunar eclipse – and I got my period. The moon was full-on, dazzling in its circular brilliance. I missed the eclipse. My period did some wonky things to my brain, breeding crankiness at the close of the writing circle, a bout of crying in the afternoon, an unusually reluctant sortie to watch Mao’s Last Dancer on Dave’s big screen, and falling into bed as soon as I returned.
Yesterday, the Balinese celebrated Purnama (full moon) and today, Kajeng Klion – which is marked twice a month. Pemengku Ketut arrived with his wife Wayan; Wayan, the resident offerings-maker did her thing all about the compound; and I went down to the family temple in sarong and sash once I heard Ketut chanting to the rhythmic clanging of his bell. Together with Nyoman and an Australian traveler that arrived yesterday, I joined in the prayers – to the sun, fire and water, and all the rest.
Then, I went out for lunch (bowl of soup) at the warung down the road. Only when I returned, did I realize why some of the locals were staring at me: bits of rice were still stuck to my forehead – remnants of this morning’s ritual!
And now, splayed out on my bed, with more rice stuck to the hollow of my neck, I’m trying to listen to my body…when I recall this full moon-induced (?) thought that plunked itself in my brain, front and center, waking me from sleep:
Whenever someone whom I’ve not yet told discovers that I’m in Bali, a common reaction is one of envy (or a variation thereof). But consider this: If you think you’d like to trade places with me, ask yourself if you’re willing to sign up for the whole package deal. Ask yourself if you think you can cope with varying levels of chronic pain and discomfort from the moment you get out of bed until you go to sleep – with periods of rest and reclining in between (the kind that you don’t talk or write about all the time because, really, what for?); if you think that you can walk everywhere with the sensation of an iron anvil lodged in your backside, its weight pulling you downward; if you think that you can restrain yourself from engaging in activities that you’d otherwise love to participate in; if you think that you can walk while breathing in great puffs of pollution emitted from tourist buses by the dozens that are idling for no reason on the roads.
Imagine that you will prefer to stand while eating, while watching a movie, while having a conversation; that you will sit only when necessary, and even then only on your pillow and when your legs give out on you; that you always need to think in advance – about how much weight you can bear to carry for a certain distance, how long you might have to sit, so maybe a pain reliever is a good proactive choice, though by no means sufficient; that you will not be able to just head out to meet people because your body has other plans for you…
If you are prepared to take on that extra dimension of daily living, then by all means, envy me. If not, then please be mindful of your health and grateful for your life. I know I am for mine.