In order to form a habit, the brain becomes active in the certain areas associated with said habit. It’s essentially working parts of itself it’s not used to using. Once the habit is formed, it becomes automatic. What happens then is, in order to conserve energy, the areas of the brain that were once active when forming the habit, essentially go to sleep. You are literally on autopilot. Think about how many times you have been driving, and have no memory of getting from point A to point B. Or you had a stop to make, but you forgot because you were so used to driving your normal route. This is your brain on autopilot. It knows what to do and where to go, so it doesn’t have to actually think, or make decisions.
(By the way, it does NOT take 21 days to form a habit. I don’t know where that myth came from, but it is totally subjective and can take as few as 16 days or up to over 200 days to form a habit. So please cut yourself some slack if you’re trying, but haven’t been able to master your habit in 21 days. Keep going, don’t give up, you’ll get there).
Anyway, I realized last night that, as a first time traveler, there is almost nothing that is habit for me right now. Even the things that are automatic, like walking, I still have to be extra alert, because the sidewalks here are very precarious, when there are even sidewalks. Between that, not knowing my way around, and dodging traffic and street dogs, even something as automatic as walking is still an unfamiliar endeavor at this point. Which means that I am using parts of my brain that I’m not used to- to the umpteenth degree.
Even when I do have to make decisions at home, like what to have for dinner, what errands I need to run, what I want or need to do with my day, I am generally making those decisions based on information I already have available. I am accessing information that my brain already has stored in it. So even when it has to work, it still doesn’t have to work that hard.
But here I am, on the other side of the world, everything is new and different, and basically every part of every day for me is about learning my way around, learning the customs, the money, maybe even some of the language, making decisions, like what to eat, where to eat, which shop to buy my flowy Balinese dresses from, do I want to go down this street, or that street? Left or right? The level of decision making I’m faced with trips me out. I’ll probably write more about that at some point.
(By the way, I finally did end up getting some flowy Balinese dresses, which I bargained for! I’m starting to get the hang of bargaining, though I still don’t foresee myself becoming a lover of the practice).
Anyway, my brain is just trying forming some sort of habit. But until my brain assimilates this information and it becomes even slightly automatic… or at least comfortable and familiar, it is constantly active in ways it’s never been before. And it’s so many different areas of the brain being used, not just one (I assume). So, no wonder this beautiful, magical, precious brain of mine feels overworked and run down (as does the rest of my body). It’s been on overdrive, and it’s got to power down for a bit.
I mentioned in my last post that I was getting kind of sick. I’ve felt pretty crappy, physically, the past couple of days. But I’ve finally been catching up on sleep, which is helping.
I truly believe that when we get sick or injured it is The Universe Truth telling us to slow down, take a break, rest, relax, reflect, and take care. I mean, we are literally, physically being stopped. Some people try to push through sickness or injury. I listen to, and trust, my body. Although I will admit, I caught myself shoulding on myself at first, about getting out more, seeing more, doing more, but as soon as I took some time to just do nothing for a little bit (something that I’m adamant about people doing more of, by the way) I realized how badly I needed it. Especially as an introvert.
So the past couple of days I’ve been taking it pretty easy. I still need to go out to get food, and water.
And yesterday I had to move to my next homestay, which feels a little more like a small, funky hotel. And that’s isn’t a bad thing. I’m able to order beer, water, or a fresh coconut, right to my room! Plus, this place has a pool (which I have yet to use). It’s also in a perfect part of town!
Supposedly they only had an opening til Saturday, but I might see if there’s any way to stay here longer. It’s such a great location, and I don’t feel like hopping around to more places if I don’t have to. Plus, I met a very nice Dutchman who is staying here. He’s been here quite a few times (and stays at this place every time), so he knows the ins and outs and was telling me good places to meet people and where I can extend my visa without traveling an hour away to immigration offices.
In the meantime, right now I’m just focused on healing my body. So today I got my first Balinese massage! For $7 USD! And I will definitely be getting many more! But for the most part I’ve been staying in bed and resting, and it feels so right.
And just to give you an idea, you basically can’t walk 20 ft without being offered a massage or a taxi ride. Every other shop is a spa or doubles as a spa. Even a lot of the restaurants have a spa in back, and all the women are standing out front saying “Hello! You want massage?” And all of the men are sprinkled up and down the streets offering motorbike or taxi rides. A lot of the white tourists seem really annoyed by this, almost as if the locals are glorified street dogs. But I happily smile and say “hello, no thank you” to almost every single person. We are in their country! We can at least be nice to them.
There are also a lot of places that have live music every night. Some reggae, some jazz, some just cover singers. I had dinner the other night at a place where two guys were playing guitar and singing covers. They started with Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, which drew me into the place. Then they sang everything from Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, to Coldplay’s Yellow, to Guantanamera, to my favorite- More Than Words, by Extreme. I don’t know if there is anything cuter than that song being sung in a Balinese accent: “Mohr dan verrrds to show you feeeel, dat yohr love for me is reeal.”
But I have to say, so far, the highlight of my trip has been this morning. As I was sitting on my little porch having my morning coffee and breakfast, this little dude walks up with a big smile and starts talking to me. He was super friendly and was telling me that he is a painter, then asked if he could show me some of his paintings. He said he wasn’t from Bali, but somewhere close (I can’t remember where), and he has friends here that he visits and likes to come sell his art. He said that he doesn’t care if people buy anything though, and he doesn’t like how pushy people here are about trying to get you to buy things. He was just happy to be showing it to people and to see them smile. He stressed that he understands people are on a budget when they travel and he doesn’t care if you buy.
He had two types of artwork he showed me. First, he showed me some lovely and very skillful colored sketches he did with very fine pointed bamboo quills. They were beautiful, but not incredibly unique. Then he unrolled a bunch of canvas pieces he had that he did with oil paints. They were more abstract, and to me that was his art. It reflected his spirit, it showed me Who He Is. The others were beautiful, and skillful, yes, but clearly more commercial sellers. His abstract pieces made my heart flutter. I bought two pieces, and they truly make me so happy! It also feels good to support true artists, which I am also adamant about in general. (Buy art, people! Of any medium)
He was such a sweet soul. He thanked me and prayed that the Gods bless me with prosperity, so I can maybe buy more of his art. I hope I see this guy again, because I think I do want to buy two more pieces that are still seducing my mind, 8 hours later. When I think about how happy his art makes me- that IS what art is all about. And how beautiful to have pieces of his imagination, from the other side of the world, on my walls for years to come! Plus, I want him to be my new friend.