Bad News

When I planned my latest work trip to Bali, I looked forward to meeting with Dek.  I “reserved” as much of time as possible with him so we could work together making and designing furniture.  Dek’s my main man in Bali.  We share a warehouse, workshop space, and meet daily to move all our projects as well as our lives, forward.  He is smart, highly skilled, intuitive, incredibly hard working, fun to be with, and fully Balinese.  He and his wife from NYC, own and run eight or nine businesses, which, by all reports, are starting to run them!

We’d set up a breakfast meeting for my first morning in Bali at his wildly successful Kafe and planned to drive from there to the workshop.  After half an hour of catching up on news, he casually said, “Someone in my village died last night.”  My heart sank, not because some unknown person died, (knowing we’ll all die one of these days), but I know Dek well enough to know that this is probably really bad news for my time with him.  He went on, “That person was from the royal family.”  (This is even worse news for me!)  Continuing, “There will be major cremation in two weeks, and my family has the honor and responsibility to build the tower and bull essential for the ceremony.”  (Worst news yet.  Bye bye Dek for two weeks, my plans are suddenly down the drain).  “It means at least 10 hours extra work for me each day.  I have no choice.  I’m Balinese and this is what matters and what must be done.  I’m sorry, brother.”  (Damn!  Of the 3,500 people in his village, why did that person have to die?  Why couldn’t they have just waited a few weeks? I thought to myself).  He went on, “It may not matter that much anyway.  All six of my woodworkers are still in Java for Ramadan etc., and are coming back two weeks late.  Nothing I can do.  No workers, no furniture.”  (Double damn!)  I answered.  “It’s OK Dek, you have to do what you have to do.  I do understand, it’s harder for you than it is for me.  We’ll grab some time here and there.  What about the Java workers?”  “No telling if or when they will return.”

My work in Bali appears to be designing and making furniture and art, managing business there, buying special pieces from all over Indonesia, and managing the house and warehouses and their staffs.  While this is my outer work, the inner work is just as important.  I’d planned this trip six months in advance.  Central to that plan was Dek.  Dek was 90% taken out of the picture in one second.  The inner work is: to accept what is, be happy, and change all the plans and some of the goals of the trip with compassion, speed, and without looking back.  Thirty trips to Bali have given me a great deal of practice in moving past frustration with some degree of ease and humor so I can be happy (a critical component) and so the outer work can be done.


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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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