jetlag’s gift

Oct 3, 2015 | Lodtunduh, Bali

It’s my second night in Bali and evening unfolds in a way that is completely unfamiliar to me. Gone are the cars beyond my living room windows, the sound of voices, the quiet, steady hum of my mid-town neighbourhood and the security of streetlights. Instead, there is complete darkness surrounding the Joglo, and the sounds of the creatures who own the night have a raucousness I find unsettling. I sit in the living room and the only sounds I hear are the ceiling fan and the croaking and chirping of creatures that is growing louder. I make a covenant between myself and ALL OF REPTILE LIFE: I won’t be afraid of anything that doesn’t bite. As far as I know, these dudes aren’t biters. And I won’t freak-out when any small lizard, frog or large gecko idly crosses my path—even in the bathroom. The Joglo isn’t the sealed box I live in at home. There are crevices and doorways open to the outdoors … and the outdoors likes to come in. I remind myself that if I’d wanted to be hermetically sealed in this tropical climate, I could have found that. But I wouldn’t have rice paddy views and the solitude I asked for, or the lush garden and butterflies the size of tea cups that have stolen my heart already. So it’s up to me, really. I have to make peace with the critters, and let my fear of the darkness loosen its grip, because I’m not exactly winning at this sport called bravery.

I reluctantly turn out the electric lights, lock the sliding doors and turn into bed. At 2:30 am, just when I think I’ve evaded jet-lag, I’m wide awake. I toss fitfully for another two hours, holding out for the small chance that exhaustion will eventually release me from my tangled thoughts. By 5:00 am, true to habit, I open my laptop for distraction. I look up and it suddenly occurs to me that there’s an entire garden waiting to be explored, and if I’m lucky enough to be facing east (I haven’t worked this out quite yet) a sunrise to witness. Suddenly I’m in a hurry to slip on my flip-flops, grab my camera and race to the bottom of the garden. I can’t see over the stone wall so I unlock the gate, open the iron doors, and I’m facing another world—the rice paddies I’ve only ever seen in pictures.

I pass through the gate and climb down the ancient stone steps to find a perch above the fields and stream. The light is grey-blue and for a moment I think I’ve missed sunrise. Until I realize that I really have no idea whether this is the case. What does sunrise in Bali look like anyhow? I sit on my stone perch in my short nightie, the warmth of the morning bathing my legs … waiting … watching. The sky changes colour slowly at first, the grey dissolving to streaks of blue. Then all at once there it is—a moment that takes my breath away. I don’t dare move because the orange light through the coconut trees is rising quickly, and I give thanks, over and over again for every joy and every sorrow that has brought me to this moment.