We’re not going to talk about what happened in Bali.

If you’ve been following this blog attentively, you might have noticed that the timeline seems skewed. It is. Some months lost; draw a line under them, forget them.

* * *

[No, it wasn’t some nefarious act by the local Balinese or Indonesian people. Far from it.]

* * *

Sometimes you find yourself in a million pieces. It can take a long time to glue them back together, and they don’t always go back together in the right order.

The wet season hit, and for weeks I watched the rain fall. Torrential rain, pouring from the sky, mesmerising. I covered my bike with my tent. There was a tiled area, under cover, but for a long time I didn’t feel physically strong or balanced enough to push the bike up over the small step. I couldn’t sleep; eyes pinned open in a state of relentless hyperarousal; adrenaline, cortisol, amygdala in overdrive. No capacity to focus the mind; unable to follow a twenty-minute television show, mind batting desperately to get out (get where?) like a bird against a window. Able to read, the same sentence, innumerable times, without ever knowing what it said.

When you speak with people, you have to remember to move the muscles in your face to make the right configurations: smile (mouth up at the corners), laugh (make the noise, crinkle the eyes). But gravity is very heavy, and like a fish caught yesterday, your eyes feel dead. (Focus the eyes, focus the eyes, or they’ll notice.)

You know that you’re safe, but your mind is locked in a state of mute distress a long way away and you don’t know if it will ever come back. In a way you wish that, like an ageing space probe, it will eventually lose energy in its far-off galaxy and power down; all the alarming signals will fade away and stop, the echoes moving further and further away in space. But somehow your body stubbornly continues to exist, anchoring your broken parts to no purpose.

So I watched the rain fall.


* * *

I have much to be grateful for. The beautiful Georgina and Wayan, who rescued me more than once, as they set up their new dive shop in Amed. They made me their ‘guinea pig’ student – we pretended that I was doing them a favour by learning to scuba dive as the inaugural student of Bali Dive Cove, but in reality we all knew that they were saving me from myself. Thank you for insisting that I learn my pressure tables when I thought I could barely remember my own name; making me eat when I wanted to fade; making sure that I was on my feet at 5am to dive the wreck of the USS Liberty as the sun came up.


Georgina does not care how miserable you think you are. You’re going diving, and you’re going to love it! (Best ever.)

Thank you to Josh for putting a roof over my head for those first few weeks while I watched the rain fall in solitude; and later on, for keeping me fed and plied with beer when I was far from my best.


Josh: dive buddy, drinking buddy extraordinaire.

Thank you Simone for reminding me how much I love my bike, simply by the smile that was on your face when you brought her back after hooning through town that evening.


That grin.

Thank you Mount Agung for towering over it all, and leaving a layer of ash over my bike some mornings. You reminded me, always, that I, and my sufferings, are very very small.


14 thoughts on “A million pieces

  1. geoffkeys says:

    It’s a while since this happened and I’m hoping that time is doing its job of healing.

    1. Hope your metatarsals are healing a lot faster that…

  2. @SmithPlatts says:

    Oh my goodness Grace, I’m so sorry for whatever happened in Bali, and for what you’ve been going through!!

    You may not feel it, but you’re an inspirational and powerful person; strong, bold, amazing.

    I hope the time is healing you, and it’s great you have support around you!

    Rooting for you!!!

    1. Thanks mate. Sometimes I feel so far from it; the kind words are appreciated. Thanks for reading all through the ups and downs. It’s not always sunshine and unicorns but I hope you don’t mind reading through the depressing chapters too!

  3. ozemarketeer says:

    Hmmm, sitting here in a cocoon of rural tranquility. Having traded the opportunity to ride North into the furnaces of Hell of Qld, and opting for the relative lacklustre comfort of an aging limousine.
    This morning’s arrival of your latest epistle created some discomfort for this reader.
    The powerful underlying raw emotional force that belies your strength and gutsy determination to be the best that you are is mesmerising. It is also a wonderful journey of heartbreak, healing and rediscovery. The realisation of supportive others without hidden agendas makes for a healthy understanding that Mother Earth cares for all who care about her.
    Grace, you are the product of all you have met and those who share your words.
    You truly are the best you can be. Respect.

    1. It is good to stay out of the furnaces of hell for as long as possible. Procrastination is underappreciated in this respect.

      You write kind and thoughtful messages. I replied previously but it seems not to have posted, just another bout of poor internet connectivity. Your words are, however, always gratefully received.

      I agree with the words raw, emotional, heartbreak but other aspects which you describe feel a little more foreign. Thanks for seeing me a kinder light than I see myself; it’s nice to have one’s relentless self-criticism taken as gutsy determination to be the best I can be! And thanks for patiently encouraging me again and again. It helps. Thanks.

  4. Chin up Grace! It’s not easy having real feelings and a genuine, intelligent ability to see the complexities of life. The best people seem to suffer the most, sometimes the only thing that can help them is when they’re occasionally convinced of their amazing worth to so many others.
    Plus it’s in all our interests to see your smile often – as it is very contagious ????

  5. Goggles says:

    Grace, I am 45 now and traveled when I was 18 but never after that. I love my life now but part of me yearns to be where you are now…

  6. ozemarketeer says:

    See! You ARE loved and admired! 🙂 🙂

  7. Darin Lafalam says:

    Rainy seasons come and go. As do people we thought were the bedrock our lives are built upon. Sometimes it takes a reminder that we are the only foundation we need. Glad you weathered the storm. Find peace and happiness in your adventure, Grace. Positive thoughts your way….

  8. Richard Reep says:

    Just keep moving, keep riding everyday , it’s the only way ! Bon chance

  9. William Hay says:

    So enjoying dropping in on your journey. Read it first last year contemplating buying the KTM 690. Now have mine and am enjoying it. Mostly rode off road backwoods summer and fall. Continuing to go to work but checking your journey reminds I do have choice.’Enjoying your journey vicariously. Love your writing and photography. Thanks for the inspiration and example.

    1. Thanks William, I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve been enjoying the 690. Yes, there are many different versions of life out there… I hope to see many of them

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *