I admit it. Seven years ago when Eat Pray Love was passed on to me by a good friend, I devoured it in virtually one sitting.
I had big time identification. I felt like Liz was my soul sista. Big city girl, steeped in her urban ways, with one too many bad relationship choices under her belt in search of something more.
So, four years later, I packed my bags and boarded that plane in search of my own transformation, my life’s mission and yes, Javier Bardem. I decided to bypass Rome, a city I had already made mad passionate love to on many occasions, and decided to go right for the jugular…India and Bali. But following in the footsteps of another isn’t an exact science. As much as you have a vision of the way you want things to go, you have to expect the unexpected.
In India, there was no Richard to call me out on my s**t when I hit rock bottom, no ashram walls enveloping me in a world of silence and contemplation, no runaway elephant to serve up an element of magic and whimsy.
I hit the ground running and was swept up in a tidal wave of Indian life…loud, colorful, spicy, stinky and exhilarating. A kind of traveling circus for the soul. I slept in desert palaces and cow dung huts, danced “Bollywood” style with orphans in a small village, rode horseback thru the desert and walked barefoot thru a parting sea of rats on a visit to a temple in their namesake. Oh yes, that’s me…little Ms. Moses.
Bali, brought more of the same surprises. The medicine man Ketut, basking in his new found fame, had middle aged women lined up out the door ready to drop $40 usd in his coffers all for the same three lines…”You live to 84, you will have three children, you will lose all your money and then you will get it back”.
Wayan, the healer, proudly displaying “the book” in her shop now charged $100 for a massage and $20 (unheard of in Bali) for her famous health lunch. Ubud, itself, once a sleepy rice farming village, was choking on the fumes of all the Eat Pray Love big bus tours and there was nary a Javier to be found.
WTF?! this was not what I signed up for. I decided to go rogue and do my own thing. I found myself a tiny village off the map and spent my days connecting with the local people.
I learned to cook their food, made Hindu offerings, picked up some of their fancy dance moves as well as word or two. I eschewed Ubud for 6am shopping trips with the local ladies from my ‘hood. Dang, these women know how to work a bargain.
I spent afternoons engaged in girl talk as women weaved together beautiful fragrant offerings to the Gods. I danced through the rice paddy fields every night as the sun set and impressed the villagers so much they invited me to shake my money maker for the king during their millennium celebration. I found a peace I have never known and made friends for life.
So what does all this mean?
In seeking to follow in Liz’s footsteps I stumbled upon my own. I learned that every one’s experience is unique and mystical. You can never recreate someone else’s journey and you shouldn’t try. Be open. Stay connected and say Yes! to what comes your way. It’s so easy to romanticize other’s experiences and covet the same result. Don’t. Trust you will be given what you need.
So, did my adventure bring all I had hoped for? Yup. It gave me exactly wanted. All that. And more.
Timothi is a New York City based portrait photographer. She has traveled the world as a photo journalist and leads groups on one of a kind transformative travel experiences across the globe through her company “Nomada Journeys“. She is a kundalini yoga instructor, former actress and ballerina and founder of “The 1 in 8 Project” which supports women with breast cancer through the photographic medium.
Editor: Hayley Samuelson.