I'm not sure when I decided I needed to go to Bali, but I swear it was before "Eat, Pray, Love" -- both the book and the chick flick.

At least, this is what I've told myself, so I don't feel like I flung myself halfway around the world just because of a bestseller, or Julia Roberts. (Seriously, I haven't even seen the movie.)

Once you've flown 20-something hours (committing a massive carbon footprint to your spiritual slate) and wearily stepped off a plane onto this gem of an Indonesian island, once you've walked into the sticky-hot air clouded with incense from fresh-lit offerings (at the airport!) by the Balinese, it's easy to feel like a bestseller-inspiring epiphany must be imminent.

The hurl-inducing stench in the ladies' room just outside the airport only enhanced this feeling.

Why travel if not to get outside of your routine, get outside of the proverbial box? In heading to a yoga retreat near Ubud with my mom, I was hoping to step so far outside the box that I would temporarily forget there was a box. Not because life here in Colorado is unbearable. But because sometimes, when things get glitchy and sluggish, it's best to restart your computer.


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Our driver blasted the air conditioning and buzzed through a heady mix of minivans and scooters. Out the window, temples, huts, modern buildings and grown-over ancient dwellings flew by; our driver explained "this village specializes in stone statues" as we passed six-foot Buddhas and deities from the Hindu pantheon, but the next village is full of painters. Between the art, daily life: women balanced laundry baskets on their heads, men poked at burning trash on the side of the road, and I wondered how, from the perspective of my own daily life, I could process it all.

I'd read in my guidebook that the Balinese bathe out in the open, in town streams or spigots. When we arrived at our yoga retreat center and started walking down the streamside dirt path to get to our lodging, my tired eyes wandered to the stream and darted back to the path again -- 10 or so men of varying ages were in various stages of de-robing to bathe for the evening.

"Hello!" one called out in English. Another stood up and waved.

Waved everything.

Outside of the box? What box?

-- Jenn Fields