I’m writing this slightly sooner than I had planned but sometimes seismic events begin to unfurl and you have to change your blogging schedule…[annoying eh?]
‘Gili T’ is a hybrid of raving nights; quiet, luxurious days in paradise; and a home to islanders where the call to prayer cries out several times a day from the Mosque.
It’s a place of juxtaposition in the extreme. Poverty and wealth; noise and solitude; land and sea.
Saturday morning we woke, blurry-eyed from taking the Lonely Planet advice to dance all night [which was an excellent idea by the way], to the news that on the mainland of Bali the danger status of Mount Agung had been raised to a 4 and [to me] it felt like an eruption was about to happen in 5 minutes.
As a bit of background the volcano last erupted in 1963 and it killed more than 1,100 people. Before that it had been over 150 years since an eruption, which had also been devastating. Of course, thankfully, in the last 50 years or so our ability to predict and monitor volcanic activity has improved exponentially. At the time of writing around 57,000 people have been evacuated from the danger zone 12km around the perimeter of the mountain.
Back on Gili T I started to panic in a ‘I’m-really-mortal-and-right-now-I’m-not-ready-to-die’ kind of way.
My mind spiraled into everything I knew [which is only enough to be dangerous and in no way comprehensive] about geology, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tectonic plates, earth tremors, ash clouds and HOW MUCH DANGER WE WERE IN.
I felt like Sam Wise and Frodo, on the edge of Mount Doom remembering the Shire… Dramatic much?
Tired, hungry, worried and homesick Hannah began to share these entirely unhelpful feelings with the wider group and panic visibly began to spread.
Of course the other Nomad tribe members are FAR more pragmatic, sensible and grounded than I am [Thanks team – you were the Sam Wise to my Frodo].
Slowly their influence, and the influence of a coffee and omelette [I really am part-hobbit], began to calm me and I came back down from the stratosphere of my imagination.
As I realized that I had *somewhat* overreacted to our situation I also realized the insidious impact that fear can have. Not only in me but for my whole sphere of influence.
I had [unintentionally] injected an unhealthy dose of worry into an experience that I have no control over and brought others along with me for the ride.
The reality was different from the apocalyptic visions I had created in my mind.
Our reality was worrying for us but only in the way of transport, of keeping to our plans to continue on ‘this journey of self-discovery’ [please note the hint of irony].
The news didn’t mean that we were losing our homes.
Our places of worship.
Of potentially losing our lives.
This is the reality for 60,000 people though.
For those families and communities who call Mount Agung home this is devastating. I can’t imagine the feeling of sitting and waiting for a mountain to explode all over the things and places that you love.
Villagers are each taking it in turns to go back into the danger zones to feed livestock for fear that if the volcano doesn’t erupt then they will lose everything any way.
On the boat ride home to Canggu I had hours to contemplate everything.
Mount Agung was helpfully rising out of the ocean reminding me of it’s ever-presence, challenging me to remain calm. The sky even pointing towards the summit with the most interesting formation I’ve ever seen [pictures below].
With this in mind and heart I began to think about turning the fear around.
Turning it into gratitude, or into acceptance, or into action. Back into love.
This isn’t a new thing for me, it’s been a life-long lesson. It’s really really hard.
BUT it’s possible.
So I started small [and got gradually bigger].
I was grateful that we made to onto the boat without the eruption happening.
Grateful for my group of people who had lovingly brought me back to reality and danced with me on the deck of the boat, bringing me deep joy.
Grateful that I have the opportunity to make a difference because I’m here. Now. While a volcano is getting ready to erupt.
Accepting that my worrying has no affect what-so-ever on if and when Mount Agung decided to wake up.
Accepting that one day my time will actually come.
Accepting that I am loved and life is full as long as I am still breathing.
Then to the action.
I decided to take all that nervous, worried energy and re-channel it to help the community here on Bali that has welcomed us and been so kind.
I have a couple of hands and feet and resources that I can use to ease the suffering of those truly affected. So a group of us from the Nomad MBA are going to buy as many breathing masks as we can and distribute them to those who will need them the most, there aren’t a lot on the Island currently and they will be desperately needed if the ash begins to fall.
We would love it if you want to partner with us in it.
If you’d like to financially contribute you can do so here.
We also gladly accept prayers, well wishes, and extra hands if anyone reading this happens to be in Canggu over the next couple of days – just get in touch!
I’ve made quite a few wise friends over the last 2 weeks. A couple of them say the same thing: “you can only truly have 2 motivations – fear or love” (remarkably similar to the teachings of a certain favorite Rabbi of mine – 1 John 4:18).
I want to always choose love.
When we focus on these higher things even the mountains moving can’t erase expressions of love – whether they come in the form of physical sustenance, a breath of fresh air, a hug or a prayer.