I’m single for the first time in 5 years–Bali here I come? And, getting stoned with my shaman and my uncle.
I might go to Bali for a while.
My various L.A. jobs haven’t started back up yet, I have enough air miles for a free ticket anywhere in the world thanks to years of compulsive traveling, and hey, it’s Bali! I don’t know all that much about the little Indonesian island, other than it has seven volcanoes and deeply spiritual people. What I DO know is it’s on the other side of the world, and I feel the only reasonable use of all those air miles is to go as far away as possible…and it’s freaking far. From LAX to Japan it’s 11 hours, then another 8 hours to Singapore, then 3 more hours to Bali.
Know what all that time crunched into an airplane seat is? Golden writing time. There’s something about being forced to stay in my seat and the angle of the tray in my lap that makes for some of the happiest writing I’ve ever done. I wrote most of my senior Honors thesis on a plane to Fiji. I wrote some of my favorite passages of my novel on the plane to Brazil. I sorta want the trip just for the air time. Of course, I could just do that writing here in L.A., but far-flung international travel is an excellent procrastination method.
Travel I can’t afford, I should add.
I’m a broke broken record, even to myself. I know I need to get a job more stable than the indie art project thing, the occasional spokesmodel thing, the clipping my grandma’s toenails thing. But that can wait, right? I’ve got a check coming from the CES gig, and yeah I could put it towards bills in L.A….but Bali has monkeys, and big flowers, and rice paddies. Better to be broke in Bali than fiscally responsible in Los Angeles, I always say (actually that’s the first time I’ve ever said that).
Another plus: I had an honest conversation with myself to examine if this Bali notion is me running away from something, or running to something. I am pleased to report it is neither. I’ve grown to love my life in Los Angeles, and I’ve finally gotten it through my skull that “making it” won’t equate happiness. I need to be happy now, or I’ll be all out of practice by the time success comes (BTW, what I consider “success” is up for revision—used to be “my name in lights,” now it’s “my name cleared from collections”).
One of the things that’s really blowing my hair back these days is ecstatic dance. I started going last November after a particularly bleak stretch of anxiety and self-loathing. Ecstatic dance is basically a bunch of people getting together and rocking the fuck out. It’s not a club scene—there’s no drinking or drugs or denim boners grinding against you. It’s just nice, cool people being happy and healthy together, working their emotional shit out through sacred movement.
Last week I went to an ecstatic dance in Santa Monica. There was a live DJ, live drumming, and a really rad shaman who did a sound healing after the dance, running between us with palm fronds soaked in essential oils, healing the energy in the room with percussions instruments and gongs and singing bowls. This shaman had an body like a sculpture, a thick beard, and dreadlocks woven with shells and stones.
After the dance he asked if anyone had jumper cables, his car was dead (he drove a dope black Range Rover, I might add—the shaman biz is thriving!). I happened to have put cables in my car that day, and offered to help him out. As his car was charging, he asked if I wanted to smoke some of his sacred after-shaman-ritual herb with him. The answer: YES.
So we hang out, and smoke this incredible blunt he rolls, that’s got hash in it, marijuana, holy basil, lavender, and some other stuff I can’t remember. We end up hanging out until three in the morning, trading ideas, discussing how to be warriors of love. I asked him about my Bali idea. He said, “You get self-realization when you look at nature, if you’re not in nature enough here, then you should go there.” I told him I couldn’t seem to focus in this city, that all the “stuff” I have to do makes me feel so anxious I can’t do anything. He told me if you’re not inspired, you have no will power. That I needed a big hit of inspiration. Then he told me used to be the red Power Ranger, and showed me a photo to prove it. I figure this guy must know what he’s talking about.
The next night I went to my Uncle Jimmy’s 74th birthday dinner. Jimmy is one of my favorite human beings. He’s actually not really my uncle, he was my real uncle Ricky’s partner, who died when I was a baby so I’ve grown up knowing Jimmy as my uncle. Jimmy has had the coolest life—he was in the original L.A. cast of “Hair,” he and Ricky had a super successful comedy act in the 70’s (Robin Williams opened for them), and he traveled the entire world as a cruise director in the 80s and 90s.
After the birthday dinner I joined Jimmy at his North Hollywood apartment and we did what we always do—smoke a joint and look at photos from his life. I brought up the Bali idea. He told me the answer to travel should always be yes, but to be careful of my heart, it needs safe-keeping. I told him I don’t really have the money for the trip, well, I don’t not have the money, but a more responsible decision might be to use it towards bills.
“But if you don’t go to Bali, it could be your Woodstock!”
“What do you mean?”
“Your uncle and I were supposed to go to Woodstock, but we got offered a gig at Rodney Dangerfield’s club in Brooklyn the same weekend. It paid $30, so we took it. Can you imagine?! I missed Woodstock to earn $30!!! I can’t tell you how often I’ve regretted that.”
I also want to go to Bali because it sounds ridiculous: “Once I went to Bali for a month with no money and no idea what I was getting myself into.” It also sounds brave. It sounds like something Erin would do, or at least the Erin I want to be.