Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm off balance, Indonesia told me so

So there I was, stumbling through a public park, my friends gently trying to assist me from getting from point A to point B. I was hardly able to take a step without losing balance. I know what you're thinking. I was drunk. Like stupid drunk. Like probably-should-go-to-meetings drunk. Well, you would think that, wouldn't you? And you would be wrong. You should be ashamed.

No, if helps the story, I might add that I was blind folded and there were dozens of other people there too.

It was Ollie's and my last night in Yogjakarta, my only night out in our 10-day whirlwild tour of the JRS projects in Indonesia (you guys rock, by the way). It was a brisk evening and the staff, God bless them, took us out on the town. We had dinner which was the best (and that is not an overstatement) duck i have ever eaten. Forget the forks, we just ravaged those birds like it was our last meal.

Then they took us to the town square.

If you can imagine dozens of golf carts covered in cartoon characters made of colorful rope lights, then I will not need to provide a picture. That's it. Golf carts and tandem bicylces all covered in rope lights for tourists to hire and ride around this tiny section of green space.

So we get there and Lars, a JRS guy, tells us that is tradition to blindfold oneself and to try to walk through these two enormous Banyan trees. Apparently people have been doing this for years but I don't exactly know how it got started. I imagine some enlightened Buddhist monk with a long beard first told some foreigner to do it to balance his chi or something. Or perhaps that's form a Karate Kid movie.

Anyway, we have a go. I'm up first because I stupidly am always game for everything. Walk in a straight line with my eyes closed, I thought. How hard can that be?

So JRS people blindfold me. I have the tree in my mind's eye. I can see myself walking through the two trees an making my wish. Ah yes, I forgot. Apparently you get a wish if you do this.

The first thing I notice is, not only can I not walk in a straight line with my eyes closed, I don't trust myself to walk at all. I am about to fall over with every step because I can't truly believe there is ground under my feet without seeing it.

But I keep going. And going. Until they just tell me to give up.

Now one might think that people would barely miss the trees. Or maybe run right into them. They are big honking trees, mind you.

But no, I walk straight for maybe a few steps and then somehow make a 90 degree angle and walk parallel to the trees toward the street.

And so does everybody else!

Now, I don't know the science or spirituality behind this, but something is off. Only one of the six of us made it through three trees. None of the rest of us came close. And some of those people were born and raised in Yogjakarta and have been trying for years.

So, in case I needed any sign from the heavens that my inner-balance is way off, I got it.

Thanks a lot, Indonesia.