(circa April 2017)
The time at Zuna seemed to speed in orbit. Early mornings were spent in the dark, wet embryo of Ubud, punctuated by the rustling sound of wind chimes and the long, slow chants emanating from nearby temples. Practice began with a silent flurry of pulling out mats and props, followed by stillness as we all settled into meditation. The practices got easier and easier, the lectures harder. As soon as the sun sparked into the sky, humidity welled up as thick and constant as blood from a wound. Everett’s voice interwove with his animated expressions as we dropped into the fervor of yogic philosophy. The meditations became deeper, the poses bolder. All the seemingly tangled threads of my weeks in Bali were finally weaving together in harmony.
Once a week, we were able to take a break from the rigidity of our schedule. I saw old family friends from Kenya who had moved to another island in Indonesia. On the way to their villa on the other side of Ubud, the taxi driver and I got lost. Just as a cold sweat of panic replaced the typical gushing humidity, we emerged onto an isolated street. An abandoned building stood in the rice paddies on one side, a great grey eye emerging out of old, gnarled graffiti. I froze, suddenly remembering a nearly prophetic dream from long ago (Crocodile Dream).
The villa we were so desperately searching for was right around the corner, ornate and covered in flowers. I got out of the car and spent the day with the lovely Munro family, though the memory of the great grey eye never extracted itself from the chills running up and down my spine.
Another day was spent at a waterfall. Two other Zuna students and I descended down steep, mossy staircases in the jungle to arrive on slippery rocks next to a river. Faded yellow and white umbrellas accompanied us on our pilgrimage down the wet stairs, standing guard like spirits made visible. The rays of the sun pierced the jungle, suspended in cascades of mist rising from the river. Titled and made from red or black fabric, more umbrellas appeared like mirages through the glowing leaves and light that bleed and pulsated into one another. Every footstep felt more and more spectral.
We took pictures climbing the waterfall in bikinis. A guide grasped our hands when our feet couldn’t find safe anchorage on the rocky river bed. Strings of teenage boys gawked at us, but soon there were more tourists in bikinis to share the unwarranted attention. I found myself wondering what kind of a place this waterfall had once been, before a trickle of tourists slipped and sprawled down wet rocks.
A man smoking pot helped us with directions back to Ubud Town. He smiled for a picture, smoke blending in with the misty rays of light oscillating through the forest. In the midst of reticent sacredness, trod over by half-naked tourists, I wish that I had the courage to ask him if he knew where exactly we were, and what exactly it meant.
Soon enough, the break days were over. The final week at Zuna approached, roaring like a train about to hit the end of a line. I still danced with the ghosts of myself, though in that last week the dance became frenzied, and wild, and almost unbearable. In the deepest folds of myself that I could perceive, a storm thundered, beating out a rhythm of shadows and dusk.
It was not until the end of the last week that I broke. All the words of the past splintered across me, breaking the old mirror. Looking in that mirror were hundreds, if not thousands, of my different faces, different masks, all staring at one another as if they were strangers. In tears I asked Katherine if I could skip a lecture. She hugged me and said yes. And for that day I retreated into the darkness of my room, crying into the cave of myself.
The storm subsided. Dawn broke over the frozen, splintered fragments of who I was. The next time I opened my eyes into the light, I was new. The words that had thundered over me had transmuted. And I looked up to see a star that shimmered over seas of endless dreams, lighting the way for things to come.