Breathless in Bali

Marti Morenings

A friend of mine sent the following quote to me when he heard I had the opportunity to spend a month in Bali: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but rather by the number of times your breath is taken away.”  By this measure, my last few days in Bali were, well, breathless!

After attending the Global Spa Summit, I travelled to a very unique healing retreat called 5 Elements, which I will tell you more about in another post.  It was from this home base that I travelled to Mount Agung to hike Bali’s highest and holiest mountain.

My guide, Made (pronounced ma-day) picked me up at 4 am, and we arrived at the Pura Pasar Agung Temple, which was about a quarter of the way up the mountain, in time to watch a spectacular sunrise.  From this point, we still had a 4 to 5 hour trek up the mountain, and then another 3 hours back down, so I was approaching this hike like I do most of my challenges, with a very focused and determined “let’s get this done” attitude.

Making it to the top of this mountain quickly and efficiently was going to be my primary objective. For this reason, I was getting a little frustrated with Made. He kept insisting on slowing down the pace and taking frequent breaks.  He was in his early twenties and in seemingly great shape, so I could not understand why he was holding me back from my “great conquest”.    Well, after a few more stops, this young man, who spoke broken English, said something that really hit home, “Maybe you should slow down–the view from the top is not as good as what we can see along the way.” Although I had heard the cliché “It’s the journey, not the destination” so many times before, hearing similar words from Made on this mountain made perfect sense.   

I realized that each time we stopped, there was an opportunity to appreciate where we were right here and now in this very moment, and I made it my priority to be less concerned with getting to the top and more about getting the most out of my journey that day. Just feeling the cool morning air and hearing lively birds made me smile.  I began to really appreciate those breathtaking moments like when we stopped and saw a beautiful rainbow highlighting the valley below, seeing the temple from high above and listening to its rising ancient Hindu songs, and the swiftly swinging of wild monkeys.  

And, it wasn’t just the breathtaking views that I appreciated. I really enjoyed getting to know Made and hearing about how he loved spending time on this mountain and how he felt that he had a real connection with it.  He said he came often, even when he wasn’t on a guided hike, because when he was in the jungle, he felt one with nature.   We enjoyed a leisurely picnic lunch while looking up at the sky. I tried to describe for him what it was like to fly in an airplane, something he had never done before. He told me about his wife and two baby girls, and that his aspirations in life were to keep coming to the mountain and to be a good provider for his family.  

So, my hike to Mount Agung was less about getting to the top and more about getting to know one special young man who reminded me to look for, and stop to appreciate, those breathless moments along my journey.   


Marti hiking along the valley below



View from the top

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