This is my Balinese friend, he’s about 80 years old. I’ve known him for almost 30 years. He carved for me as a 50 year old. Older Balinese from the villages never smile for the camera, which is interesting as they smile all the rest of the time. He works the rice fields with his elderly wife. They are incredibly strong. They walk a kilometer down the mountain to their land across the thin dykes that separate the terraces. Just as I did today to visit them. A tourist would see him as poor. He has rice paddy, a gilded temple, a family, a home. He lives in a village where almost everyone takes care of one another. All his needs are more then met. At 80 he chooses to hoe a rice field all day long, and have a beautiful ceremony that night. He is loved, and his wife works side by side with him. He is a content man.

I woke up this morning to a policeman on my porch- always a bad thing to wake up to in all of our experiences. We chatted asked where each of us were from, talked about family. I invited him to coffee, he said no, I made the coffee. We sat and he told me he felt a good karma in my home, we talked about ceremonies. About catching eels and butterflies in the rice paddies with the children. About making roast pig on important holidays. I asked how come his English was so good as he had never spent time with westerners. When he was a teenager he had written down the words of the same disco era love songs I grew up with. Translated each and learned from that. He talked about offerings to the gods that live everywhere, keeping the world in harmony and balance. He asked why sometimes the tourists don’t smile on the few occasions they meet him, as as he said, “smiles are free”. He went on, “We believe smiles make you happy, and with that we can love more”. He went out to his police motorcycle and brought in his guitar that was tied onto it. An hour or more after he stopped, we did the little registration business he had stopped for. As always it was second to the more important aspects of human relationships, chatting about family, love, children, religion. He never asked my job, but he asked if my children were happy.

Balinese policeman, old man, family, tradition, love… There are societies where wealth runs very deep, but we cannot always see it.