I am Going Home to Myself
I am writing from my new home, I am seated at a big bamboo table, the garden windows are open and the curtain is dancing with the breeze. Everything is quiet and peaceful. Just the sounds of nature, of animals surrounding me, of the wind in the palm trees and also of the fan above my head.
Two weeks ago, at the exact same time, I was finishing to clear out my apartment, to make a last tour and see if I didn’t forget anything, to take few seconds to contemplate the empty space, emptied of the four years I lived there, emptied of my things, emptied of myself, to walk out, no turning back. I had no idea of what was waiting for me, or really of why I was doing it, just that profound feeling that it was the only thing to do. To leave.
Of course, I projected myself before my departure, I tried to imagine what my life would be like there, what would I do with myself, what balance I was about to build and how I could feel. I feel even happier at this moment that I could have ever imagined. It makes me even happier to know that I have this little voice inside of me that tells me what to do and who (apparently) is not mistaken. That I just have to listen to her to know where to go. Listen to your instinct, listen to your heart. And that, despite of what we could think, is not inborn. It is to be learned. To learn to hear, to learn to listen, to learn to understand. The instinct, it needs to be worked on, to be sharpened, it needs to be trained. And after that, just to have faith.
These last two weeks have been turbulent, and peaceful at the same time. I visited lots of houses. Actually, just four (but still). It was the most stressful part for me. To find a new home. A place where I feel good. I didn’t sleep the first nights, I dreamt of houses, of house visits, of weird roommates, of people I knew who had nothing to do here and of all kinds of animals.
The first house I visited didn’t help, it smelled so much of humidity that my clothes were wet when I got out. The second one was beautiful but lost in the very end of a mud path in the rice fields. I could have died there, nobody would have found me in weeks. The third one was occupied by strange people, including a blond girl who was talking to herself, in Russian, looking at astrological cards and smoking cigarette after cigarette ; and a guy dressed like a Tour de France cyclist by the pool. It had been four days since I arrived and I already felt like it was about to be long and complicated. I asked for patience, we don’t find a new home just like that. But I was eager, I was so looking forward to it. To begin to settle, to find a new routine, an everyday life, I didn’t come to Bali to be on holiday, I want to go to the supermarket, to have keys, to say « I am going home », to find a place for every thing, to tidy my things, to cook, and most of all to have the feeling to be home.
And then, a morning, I sent a message to a girl on Facebook, who said that she was a freelance photographer in Bali and wanted to meet people. There are dozens of Bali expats groups on Facebook, and clearly hundreds of posts like that everyday. But I chose her, Stephi. She answered me saying that she had found an amazing villa, for an amazing price, but that she just had lost her roommate. She asked if I could come in the next hour to visit the house. The emergency in her message made me uncomfortable. I knew nothing about her, she knew nothing about me, how to know. I went anyway, of course I went. I met Stephi, I met the house. I came back to my hotel room to pack my things and to move in the day after.
So I live in a huge villa, really huge. My room is huge. My bathroom is huge. The living room is gigantic. The kitchen has the size of my last apartment. The garden is so beautiful. My room overlooks the pool. And when I push the gates door, I am in the rice fields. I am in true nature and in the same time, 5 minutes away from the center of Ubud. I am in true nature, surrounded by all kind of animals. Lizards, geckos, snails, frogs everywhere, thousands of spiders, birds who sing days and nights, a little cat who is peacefully wandering around. And I feel good. This morning, I even saved a huge cockroach who was stuck between two doors. I remember the version of myself who was scared by any unusual noise, any tiny animal. I couldn’t say that I have changed, neither that I get used to by what I am surrounded with. I would rather say that I let go. I let it go. It is not a viable fear, the fear of nature. We are nature. I am not afraid anymore by Arthur, the gecko who lives in my bathroom and stares at me when I shower. I am not afraid anymore or the lizards who are hunting mosquitos under the roof. I am not afraid anymore to hear the frogs in the river next door. There are so many different animal noises, the noises of nature, or rather the silence of nature. And it is often difficult to know what is inside the house and what is outside. But, in the end, it doesn’t matter. That said, it is likely that I won’t be a smartass when I will find a snake in my bathtub.
I am 5 minutes away from Ubud center. 5 minutes by motorbike. I learnt how to drive a motorbike and it is probably one of the things I love the most since I am here. The autonomy that it gives me, the wind in my hair and this feeling of unbelievable freedom. I am so excited to drive that I am willing to run every little errand. I love to open the seat and find my helmet, I love to turn the key into the lock and start, I love the moment that I am going fast enough to pull my feet in, and the smile on my face.
Stephi taught me how to drive. We knew each other for two days. She came to see the renters with me, she bargained with me, took pictures and checked that it was all working good. She took me to a small parking lot and taught me how to drive. Fifteen minutes later, she proposed to drive around on quiet small roads. She was driving in front of me, really slowly. She was turning around so that I can learn how to take a turn. She even followed me to my yoga class to be sure that I was feeling safe. This morning, we woke up really early to go to the market. When we left, she said that she was getting on the bike with me, so that I could learn how to drive with someone behind me. I think I wouldn’t have done it. I would never have got on a bike behind a super beginner driver, in a far far away country. And yet, she was relaxed and confident. She got onto my bike to go. She got onto my bike to come back with all the vegetables and fruits bags. There are people like that, that we just met and who change our lives forever. She didn’t even expect a thank you in return. She didn’t expect anything. It was normal and natural for her.
I talked about it with my brother yesterday. I told him that I always thought I was a kind girl in Paris. I even already had the feeling to be too kind. Too attentive, too ready to help people, that it was not always well perceived, well received. But that here, it is nothing. Nothing at all. I am not even half the kind that people are around here to me.
Kindness goes without saying. We all share the same world, it is obvious that we have all to win to help one another and to grow together. Yet, it is like, at some point, we have unlearnt to be kind. It is like I have unlearnt to be kind. I would have told myself that it was not worth it, that everybody was handling things by themselves, that I was handling things by myself. That we were coming to a point where kindness was questioned, and it seems so crazy. That if you are kind, we’re going to wonder if you’re not expecting something in return, if you’re not having bad intentions, or if you’re not caring too much. Judgement. I think that at some point, I stopped being kind because I was afraid of what people could think of it. Kindness is not normal anymore, it is weird.
I am learning again to be kind. And it seems so natural. It is like coming home. Going back to my true nature, to our true nature. Humanity, to hold a hand, to listen, to help, to spend some time. Kindness has nothing to do with money. When Stephi taught me how to drive, my first thought was to buy her a present to say thank you. No. Kindness doesn’t expect anything in return. To take what we’ve been given, to learn how to receive. And to give at another time, maybe even to someone different.
I often thought that society was preventing us to be who we really are. That she was taking us away from nature, that we were coming to be afraid of animals or to walk barefoot in the mud, that we didn’t know how to live into our bodies anymore or to listen to our intuitions. That she was preventing us to our humanity, that we were coming to live against each other instead of with each other. Today, I think this is an excuse. The society is not helping, she’s not always showing us the right patterns, but we have it all inside of us. We just have to go get it. There is an English expression that doesn’t exist in French and that I really love: go home to yourself. All is inside of you, your home is inside of you, your place is inside of you. It is time to go home.
I am thinking of you,