Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Balispirit Festival (Part 1?)

  You are not the person who believes in hypnotism.  You did notice while talking to yourself, that when you were tired, what you said tended to suprise you.  Maybe there's something to the idea that the conscious mind works to suppress what you don't want to know you actually believe.  But that somebody with appropriate credentials can induce this state by asking questions of you when you can't see her?  Just because you're laying down in a similar to sleep position?  No, that is not reasonable.

But that's in your normal life.  The one in New York City where your stuff keeps you safe from things that go bump in the psyche.  Where your therapist declared you well almost 20 years ago.  Come to Bali, an out of the way island, where the food and music styles are unfamiliar.  Even the friend you made 40 years ago has changed...or has she just remained more precisely herself, while everyone else has grown older, compromised their dreams, or realized that the ever elusive green light was not worth the wait and settled for the familiar.

Se you go to the Balispirit Festival, a week long festival of yoga classes, and music performances, and sound experiences.  Your father's recent death has freed you from his side-eye, he's not there to remind you that you think all of this is bullshit.  The Balispirit Festival, started a year or two after the Bali Bombing, was intended to help bring tourism back to tourism, and it's become a haven for the spiritual minded people, who believe in alternative medicine, or that's what you learn from afar.  From the safety of your first world apartment, your traditional job, your life.  You can stay, or rather retain a certain distance, from what you are suspicious of, from new age individuals who are the result of what capitalism did to the hope of the 60s, what happened when the hippies failed.

At least, you think this is bullshit in your normal life.
But surrounded by people who believe a better way is possible, it seems almost likely that change is possible, because you know that it  must be.  Hell, with (t)Rump in office, change is necessary by now.

You have always wondered if Julie created the writers' festival so you would go there and find my own community.  Hell, given Julie's mother's preference for your choices, you've always suspected that Julie wanted me to drop everything and move to paradise, if only to give Julie's choices more legitimacy.  Julie moved to Bali long before Elizabeth Gilbert made it cool.

Every evening, in the background at the concert hall, there is a video reminding you how the forests in Bali have been eviscerated by the paper industry, and you vow to start using hankerchiefs.  Staying in a hotel where the toilets can't handle anything more serious than actual human waste -- feces and urine -- and the toilet paper is tossed into a trash can next to the toilet, where it waits for the room to be cleared, reminds you again of our throwaway culture, and what it costs not only our civilization, but all civilizations, all species, our planet.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;  indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  Margaret Mead once said.

I want to preach the value of laughter yoga.  Even in my "normal" life, I am a great fan of laughter.  We know that laughter is good for you, and laughing for no reason at all seems necessary in the current environment.  Better yet, laughter is as contagious as the common cold, as transmittable as TB.  When two people start laughing, others will follow.  I don't know how you could prove it scientifically (actually, I do, measure the air content of someone before laughing, have them laugh for 20 minutes, measure again), but I'm not sure you should.  Do we really want our doctors proscribing "watch 2 hours of SNL, 1st season, twice weekly for a month."?  Would laughter yoga lose efficacy once it's required?

The Cacao festival leaves you uncertain.  You are told to touch third eyes with your neighbor and the woman next to you asks, "Are you ready for this?" she sounds hesitant.  You're not sure if you are,really, but you also can't imagine what being ready means.  You're about to touch foreheads with a stranger.  Hell, you've been in crowded subways before.  Sure you can do it.

And it's not until that spot, an inch above the bridge of your nose, is touching someone else, is touching somebody else in the same spot, and you are sharing air, voluntarily giving up the notion of personal space, THEN you realize how intimate this feels.
Her hand touches your waist.  Yours brushes her hip.  You are unsure as to whether you are touching her somewhere else to break the connection, not to feel like you're mimicking her, or to maintain that crucial distance, but later that evening, when she embraces you, you do feel accepted, and almost as friends, and you debate letting your guard down.

But you all turn, and swear allegiance to the Cacao spirit...
And she vanishes, swallowed up by the crowd that brought her to you.
You are not sure if you're relieved, or sorry at the missed opportunity...missed opportunity of what exactly?  You're not sure of that, either.

What happens when everyone goes home?
You don't know how to turn good intentions into actions.  Do you send a follow up to everyone who attended the festival, telling them about organizations where they could volunteer or give money.  The festival is too big, there are people from all over the world, so you'd have to find the appropriate international organizations, but you also suspect that the Festival was not intended to be an instrument for social change.
But you think that a conference that got this big a following should be put to good purpose.  That just sitting around and feeling good isn't enough, and so you start to plot.

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