This fourteen-part series is based on our journey to Japan and Indonesia, beginning September 13, 2017. In each post we use our presence in Asia as a broader background to the usual exploration of how we fit into this world. Welcome to our private life.

Altar In Gianyar, August 2017

Altar In Gianyar, August 2017

Not that I understand how they’re used, but there are three altars visible from my seat on this veranda. Each one has a small stone statue of something like a Buddha, with candles and flowers nearby. One of the girls on the staff is visiting them with incense and little food offerings wrapped in banana leaf while I sit, lounging on the veranda and catching up with writing. She changed into a sarong before praying, which fascinates me since I don’t understand anything about the ritual. Or Hindus in general. But I am sure of one thing, they are not the heathens I learned about in church.

Ironically, sitting here on this couch watching her quiet ceremony reminds me of being thirteen, when I first criticized Christianity: it was impossible that everyone was an unsalvageable sinner. The exclusion was what I couldn’t reconcile, the arrogance built into Christianity’s instruction that there is very little overlap with any other lifestyle. I’ve always thought everyone worships the same thing, that religions are more like different paths to the same destination than opposing and mutually exclusive systems, and being here to witness this girl at the altars makes me more comfortable with my philosophy.

Cue vivid memories of the movie scene at gomorrah in DeMille’s The Ten Commandments; that self-righteousness does little justice to this girl. For years its influence made me discount Hinduism and all eastern religions (until I seriously questioned Christianity), but now it just reminds me of my little renaissance: everyone is going to hell because if you’re not catholic or protestant or muslim you will burn. Even as a kid the fear was bombastic, now I know it is a wall, and the chanting in church was the marching orders.

In less than three weeks this trip has provided more inspiration and religious paths for us to explore than the last ten years of my thoughts on the subject. It has given validation to our learning process and made me more interested to learn about both Buddhism and Hinduism so we can weave those belief systems into our life. And, the heat and humidity in Bali has been a perfect background for the insight, considering the warm place where we will eventually end up.

Ants And Caterpillar, September 2017

Ants And Caterpillar, September 2017

Gianyar, Bali Indonesia

Sometimes it just sucks to be alive, but the alternative is worse. So question everything, and make the best of your time while you still can.

Poolside, September 2017

Poolside, September 2017

Gianyar, Bali Indonesia

This villa is not fancy per se, but it has a certain rugged elegance that fits us. It is an honest place without a pretense, not the kind of establishment we can find easily in the west. The owner built it himself, on his family’s land in the middle of these rice paddies and palms, basically from nothing. That’s the kind of authenticity we appreciate.

In Open Air Tub, September 2017

In Open Air Tub, September 2017

Gianyar, Bali Indonesia

Before we met I had two friends, and only one for longer than ten years. Since then things have changed because she’s shown me the value of connecting, and of allowing myself to be loved.

Cat, September 2017

Cat, September 2017

Gianyar, Bali Indonesia

I don’t know if it’s a pet at the villa or a house nearby, and we didn’t ask. It showed up for breakfast almost every morning, trying to rub hair all over us. We just pushed it away. What a peculiar game we lost.

Leaves, September 2017

Leaves, September 2017

Gianyar, Bali Indonesia