Over the past thirty years I have spent most winters in Bali. Usually when the cooler weather hits the tropics beckon. Never really felt comfortable in a steamer although I can appreciate the benefits. It’s just that stepping into the balmy sweet trades of Bali and feeling that rush of warm air and the aroma of incense and frangipani has an alluring effect. The waves are perfect, the accommodation and food cheap and the Balinese just a joy to be with. Most of the tourists and surfers are stoked to be in this idyllic paradise and energy levels are high. Escaping the underlying fear, competitiveness and mayhem that prevails in Australian politics and the media make going to Bali an easy decision.
It’s really interesting to take note of the tourists leaving Australia and the same tourist when they leave Bali to return home. Usually on the exit passengers are tired and unhealthy – their energy levels are low and they appear lifeless and colourless. On the return flight from Bali everyone is happy, healthy and colourful – it’s as if their life has returned to them.
Bali has that effect on everyone. It is easy to understand how Bali has over the past decade become the number one tourist destination on the planet. For me it is almost a second home. Like all beautiful places – the longer you stay, the longer you want to stay. Then the time comes when you just cross the line and throw the return ticket away. Actually there were many occasions when the time came to return to Australia that I just couldn’t get on the plane and postponed the return flight. I would stay for two months and often for six. But come September, with the scent of the Australian spring in my nostrils, I would return in time to spend the next few months with my favourite flower – the wisteria.
Many years ago when I was first introduced to Claude Monet’s paintings I was fascinated by his life – where he lived and how he transformed his domain into a beautiful home and garden, with waterways passing through the property and bridges covered in the most amazing clusters of flowers. He created incredible gardens and then spent the remainder of his life painting them – now of course the paintings are priceless. I later discovered that the flowers overhanging the bridge in some of his most valued paintings are wisteria. A few years later I found myself in his home, now preserved with the most stunning gardens for all to see. A walk through his highly colourful house and gardens is a treasure and, for those interested in art and beauty, inspirational.
I sought out nurseries with wisteria and read as much as I could on this exquisite flowering plant and slowly began planting varieties around my property. Within a few years the vines took hold and every spring they flowered. With time, the number of flowers increased and after eight years of growth there is a wonderful profusion of wisteria flowers come spring. Weather conditions determine how long the delicate blooms will hold. The window is unfortunately very short, perhaps four weeks in ideal conditions. The attraction of flower and subtle perfume is so intoxicating that I can sense it in Bali. It is the only reason I leave this second home of Bali and the reason I very rarely leave this property in September. It’s truly amazing how quick flowers bloom and pass over. A reminder how all things are constantly in a state of transformation before our eyes and yet we don’t see it. The most amazing thing about observing flowers is the realisation how incredible life is and how fleeting the moment. Upon recognition of that, whether it be through observation or direct experience, you learn to live in the moment and, if nothing else, through the relationship that you have with the flowers and your garden, you develop a profound connection with all life on all levels.
All connections you have with nature offer this and once you’ve had the experience there’s no looking back – or forward for that matter – it becomes an inner journey of discovery, you see the spirit in all things. Nature holds the key to this transformation. When you learn to look and see or listen and hear, another world opens and that world it seems has more to offer. When we reflect upon the most profound moments in our lives often it is in the connection we have with nature. Once we have connected to that world, we have connected to all worlds, including looking at the human kingdom from a different point of view. We learn to look at what’s behind the outer form – the cause of our being, our existence becomes more important in our lives and the lives of all others. When we look deep into the beauty of a flower or ride in the vortex of an ocean wave, we resonate with something deep within ourselves. As we connect all those moments into one moment and realise that it is all part of the one life, then we have the key to the kingdom – all that remains is nothing but pure consciousness.