Marathon travelling for a four year old. Four am start. Long queues, long sitting. Hilly twisty roads designed for car sick prone little girls to empty their stomachs. On arrival, sugar hit and stillness resolves illness. The green beauty and stone mossy rock of Ubud quells the anxiousness. Morning sun and afternoon drenching brings out the vividness of the green foliage and tropical blooms. Peace and serenity are the common occupants of this location. ‘Ananda’ – bliss. Well named cottages.
Little time to absorb and settle before the first yoga session. A welcome from a spiritual being, a yogi par excellence. Her eyes are bright with the light that shines from within to all who come in contact. A gift of soy and linseed eye pillow, sewed with love by a mother in law who no doubt also recognises Dana’s inner beauty. The intention is set. The practise of yoga feels imbued with love and serenity, care and nurturance.
As the day progresses to dinner time, the rain pours, the tiredness settles into a headache. An overwhelmed little girl, mother and myself drag ourselves to the group dinner. The views down the valley bordered by magnificent hills mollifies and soothes for a spell. The food, vegetarian and delicious. A little girl satisfied with the offering of her pasta and sauce. For the rest, a vegetarian gastronomy of tempeh, tofu and coconut cakes. All is devoured with appreciative gusto, even by my staunchly carnivorous mother. Geckos flit about the ceiling, wait staff are attentive, friendly welcoming. Dotted around the restaurant and foyer are art pieces by local artists. The use of palette knife to create texture and image observed with interest. The cocktail sits warmly and uncomfortably. A bad choice, water the better option. Insidiously the tiredness creeps back. A tired little girl becomes restless, fitful. A short walk across the road. The little one snuggles into her mosquito netted bed, without complaint, without hand holding and drifts off to sleep in minutes.
A fitful rest marred by lack of alarm clock and panic that I will not wake in time due to my tiredness. A little excited girl wakes at 5.30am. Can not go back to sleep, though she does make the effort. And so, day two commences.
The headache remains, an artefact of dehydration, carrying a heavy bag with a knot in the shoulder joint and a little girl who is tired and insecure in her new environment away from all that she knows and loves.
During the yoga session the pain abates, the anxiety resolves and the tiredness and fatigue subsides. Looking out over the rice paddies as the workers in their conical hats hack away at the sheaths of rice and pound them into carrier bags is a soothing and meditative accompaniment to the yoga practice. The reason for being here swells over me, the worry and pain forgotten in that moment of connecting into the yoga practise. The shared energy of people and place. Afterwards, I practically skip back our room.
We meet Nyoman, our driver, on the Ananda grounds. He looked about himself, seemed nervous. He queried our names, where we were from – did we want transport? Where did we want to go, he rattled off some locations. He was in uniform, an employee of Ananda. He seems clandestine and raises my suspicions immediately. Turns out he is not a rare employee, many Balinese have more than one job. Common also, the questions, the need to orient this new person into the correct place in their universe of understanding. I later learn of his two children, his hobby of wood carving. His soft, gentle kind manner and consideration. Even in the face of the rib nudging he is given by his peers for taking out two unaccompanied women and a little girl – evidently he is teased for his surrogate wife and family. I ask tentative questions and begin to get a story of this man, this place. We arrange an outing to the Monkey forest. He says his brother Made will drive, but it is Nyoman that turns up – Perhaps he picks up on my anxiety.
My mother declines to do outings without me, security or company I know not which. She becomes restless at the hours I spend in yoga. The sessions last at least two hours, she can not fathom how exercise can last that long. Yoga is hard to explain to those who do not love it. I observe and ruminate that I continue to be in the same ‘borrowed time’ position I am at home. I get a break for yoga – albeit longer – but the time out for other pursuits is hard fought. The constant presence of others wears down my need for solitude. The lack of routine makes Bella needy, clingy and tired. My calmness slips away in the face of neediness, I find myself snappy, cross. This of course only makes Bella’s behaviour worst, and I immediately regret and soften.
I skip a session – It seems like a good idea- to not be rushed to take time out. But instead I feel tired and grumpy. Nonetheless, the cuddles with my girl are sweet and it is clear she has missed this morning ritual of ours.
Bella is mostly having a fine time. Swimming and exploring the Ananda grounds. At times she is overwhelmed with the attention she receives. Every local we engage, on hearing her name and seeing her sweet face, comments on her beauty. They are surprised by, her age and surprised that I am her mother. This latter is difficult to ascertain … because of my age or because of her beauty? Both feel confronting – imagine if it is both? I don’t dare seek clarification and pretend I am imagining it. The former, is based on her high level of communication skills and confidence. No shy wall flower this girl of mine.
Dinner time – how does the conversation turn to my insecurities? How has my mother not understood their painful existence? It proves a watershed. The revelations about my insecurities – and a chance to enjoy some music and dancing move us into our travel groove. Or, perhaps it is the yoga. It is strong, powerful amazing. My body although fatigued is invigorated by it. With yoga comes emotional release. In the context of the dynamic of mother child nanny – this is an interesting time, history triggered and so is acceptance.Things are calmer from that point on. I feel m mother and I have reached a better understanding of one another and hope it can continue into the future.
On the last day, I sink into my yoga practise. I feel the joy of it. I reflect on my struggle against what is. This is my reality. Why did I think it would be different in a different setting? It is obvious now that it was always going to be highlighted, our differences. This realisation occurs to me in the middle of a yin yoga session. Slow, held yoga poses. Challenging in their stillness. Emotions well, I am engulfed by tears that I hold behind my eyes, wanting them to remain private. I look out over the room of fellow yogis and further at our new view, of the lush gardens of Ananda cottages and a sparkling blue pool. I embrace it, I let it seep into my soul. I remind myself to hold that. As I always try to do. In daily life. I seek that space of bliss, of union with others of community. I am not alone. There is a whole world. We each have our roles in this life, some are wanted, some are inherited without our realising it. All must be borne. How we carry them will determine if we remain in a state of tense agitation or slip into a state of acceptance. It is our ability to think creatively, to manage these burdens in a manner that can render them painless. This is now, this is happening. It won’t last forever. Relish it, Hold it … for this too, soon, will pass. Life is fleeting and deserves our utmost attention.
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