I forgot how close the mountain was.
Most mornings, the sky is cloaked in a fiery haze from burning smokestacks of trash below. For eight months, I’ve woken up to this same view of Canggu, Bali. But rarely has it ever looked like this. Today, the light is already cascading down into the rice fields and across the horizon. In the distance I’m given just glimpse of Mount Batur, a volcano worshiped by everyone who calls this island home.
I smile peacefully, knowing others are smiling at the mountain too.
Yet, the higher the morning sun rises, the more it’s light will shine into the true cracks of this island. Soon, the land will no longer feel peaceful and soft. It will be steaming with heat and humidity. The heavy breeze bringing with it, the sounds of roaring scooters and the smells of burning plastic. I watch the smokestacks rise and my smile disappears. I know in a blink of an eye, Mount Batur will be invisible. I’m only a few miles away, but soon the sky won’t be clear enough to see it.
I fell In love with Bali the moment I arrived and I fell out of love a second later. Yet I am still here. The duality of this beautiful place has sucked me and spit me out for far too long. But I feel like I just arrived.
I’ve never felt so conflicted, so empowered to unlearn more. We cannot unsee what we’ve witnessed here. We cannot be ignorant to the truth anymore. Why is this so obvious to me? Why do most only see what they want to see?
Chasing light around the world has become an endless pursuit of curiosity and wonder. But in this moment, I don’t want to wonder anymore. I want to know. I want to know what the light will do next. I want to know what truths it will reveal. It’s my last Bali morning, and I wonder once more.
Am I willing to stay? Or am I willing to let go?
Danielle Werner, 2015
A visual, written, and recorded story.