Retail (and) Therapy at 30,000 Feet

It was somewhere between Qatar and Bali. We’d been in the air for hours and most of the seats held what looked like mummified remains. I’d finished my third movie of the flight and got up to take a bathroom break. Wobbling forward in the semi-darkness, I tried not to bump body parts that protruded into the aisle.

In the unfortunate feng shui of airplane design, the kitchen sat directly opposite the restrooms. A cluster of flight attendants huddled over the counter in that narrow galley. Behind them, a woman in passenger clothes engaged me.

“I’m selling jewelry, silver from Bolivia, $10 each piece. Go ahead, take a look.”

I’d already traveled New York to Qatar, over 14 hours, and had a 2 hour layover in Doha. By this time we were 6 hours into the last leg. But the words: silver, and jewelry, as cross-eyed and exhausted as I was, could raise me from the dead. I burrowed into the group, and there, gleaming in the center of the cases of rings and bracelets was the elephant, Ganesha. My hand shot out, grabbed the ring and slipped it on. It fit as though the designer had used my finger to form it.

The fact is, I’d been hunting Ganesha for months. Every third shop in Ubud sells handcrafted silver jewelry and I’d browsed them all to no avail. I shoved the ring at the woman, mumbled that I’d get the money, and scurried back to my seat taking out a flopping head and a dangling hand on the way.  My purse held only one bill, a $10. I fished it out and hurried back, thrust it at her, and took my ring. The toilet was unoccupied. I locked myself in and giggled, shaking my head at the ludicrous synchronicity of it all.

Fast forward to yesterday. I visited a professional Tarot reader for the first time ever. I’d heard good things about Novi so a friend and I went to check her out. She was goose-bumpy good! But when she asked me if I knew why I was wearing a Ganesha ring I said, “Because he’s the remover of obstacles.”

“Not only remove the obstacles,” she quickly cut in. “Ganesha god is still 7 years old. That is why Ganesha energy is funny: I want to go here, I want to go there, I am so happy, I want to break the rules.” I chuckled as she spoke, but she wasn’t finished. “That’s still in you, but repressed. That’s why in the subconscious there is a desire to be joyful like a seven-year-old. That is why in the subconscious you searched for a Ganesha ring and found it on the airplane; because the joy of a child is missing.”

That hit me like a bullet to the heart. Here in Bali there is mischief and play. My Balinese friends enjoy nothing more than teasing. I’ve learned how to roll with it, but I know myself and she’s right. There’s still the reserve, the serious adult moderating the scene, not wanting to appear silly or, heaven forbid, childish.

Her instructions were clear: You are to dance, and sing, and remember what you loved to do before you were five, remember what you wanted to do when you were 8 but didn’t. It’s time to finish the dream.

Novi’s reading turned me inside-out. She knew things, saw things, and instructed her remedies in forceful kindness. In my mind I resisted but in my gut I knew she spoke the truth. It’s a good thing I recorded the session. Her wisdom spilled like a gushing fire hydrant and by the time she’d finished I couldn’t remember three-fourths of what she’d said. I came home, listened again, and wrote down everything word-for-word. She told me that 2017 is a personal year for me. No doubt it will take at least that long to work out all the warts she exposed.

It was a valuable lesson. I’d become complaisant, almost smug, thinking I’d pretty much nailed my issues and it was clear sailing ahead. Novi brought me down to earth. It’s never the end. The subconscious has stores of old stuff that can trip us up if it stays buried in the dark. The work of self-discovery is on-going and it is by far the most rewarding endeavor we can undertake, not just for ourselves, but for the important others in our lives.

Have you ever sought out other sources of information, an astrologer, numerologist, Tarot reader, etc.?

If yes, I’d love to hear your experience.


To Risk Being Disturbed and Changed




From A Morning Offering
by John O’Donohue

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fears no more.



Bali, steeped in ritual, alive equally to the seen and the unseen, demands offerings.

I came here to ‘break the dead shell of yesterdays’. I had no idea what lay ahead for me but I wanted a life that I would love and I had a shadowy dream of what that might look like.

I noticed the offerings first. How quaint, I thought. How pretty. Weeks later in a small village I saw others that were not lovely. They held dark, partially burned objects. Women in trance danced beside them, swaying, eyes closed. An involuntary shudder rippled head to toe. In an instant it was clear that I was living on the face of things, lost in the romance of paradise while another reality roiled and churned just out of sight.

It’s that Bali I’ve grown to love. I’m still smitten with the enchantments of her beautiful face, but I’m no longer naive. The Balinese devote hours every day making prayers and offerings to spirits both dark and benign. This, they believe, maintains balance between the worlds. Since they operate in both realms simultaneously, that balance is essential. Unlike Western consciousness grounded in the seen, Bali-mind is equally at home with the physical earth and the spirits at play here.

I’ve been ‘disturbed and changed’ by the tremendous power of this island. People ask me, Do you believe all that? And I answer, How can I not? I’ve experienced her transforming fire first hand and I’ve watched as others fall prey to her spell. A friend commented recently that Bali is a karmic accelerator. That’s a piece of it, but it’s much more. If you stay any length of time you’ll see. Bali intensifies character good or bad, manifests intention, spawns creativity, and rearranges beliefs. If you merge with her flow she’ll nurture you. But if you cross her, beware. You’ve no idea what demons you’ve summoned!




%d bloggers like this: