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My one month experiment working remotely from the rice fields…

I’m in Bali for the month of January, living into my long held dream of working remotely from Southeast Asia. I have had a vision of building a “second life” for myself here since my first trip through Southeast Asia five years ago. This month in Bali is my first experiment with what it’s like to live and work in a very different reality. So far it has been just that – a very different reality.

I rented a house for the month in a village called Penestanan, just outside of Ubud. It is awesome in the old sense of the word – full of awe and beauty. The village is dripping with green, effortlessly growing in and around all of the homes. Nature is king here, and there is very little separation or attempt to control it. The people live in it and move with it. When the monsoon sweeps through in the afternoons, everyone yields and brings their already slow pace to a pause. They don’t fight it. They stay in the flow. Seeing this level of fluidity reminds me how I sometimes resist what is happening around me, instead fighting to make what I want happen. That doesn’t work here. What does seem to work is staying in the flow. Always a good lesson.

I had my first experience of trying to make something happen when I began the process of setting up an internet connection here. Not easy. I did all of the research that I possibly could before arriving, ultimately choosing to rent a house that advertised a reliable high speed internet connection. I remember the line in the advertisement, “just open your laptop, connect to the wireless network, and surf the web while you look out over the rice paddies.” Sold!

It didn’t work out so smoothly.

The experience of being here asks me to surrender to a new way of living. The structure, reliability and familiarity of life in the San Francisco Bay Area has been replaced by good intentions, huge smiles, and a very relaxed (seemingly indifferent) approach to getting anything done. It’s expansive, beautiful, and completely unpredictable. When I was here as a backpacker five years ago, all of this was amazing. But this time around, with a coaching practice to run, I experienced the unexpected internet challenges as more frustrating than humorous.

My challenge has been to integrate the expansiveness and aliveness of this place with the structure necessary to live and work in the western world. I want both for myself and my clients. It’s very similar to the path that I have already been walking but with a new degree of difficulty. I am still helping people (and myself) integrate the need for results with a quest for meaning and purpose. It’s just that results here are much harder to produce. How did I ever expect getting high speed internet in the rice fields to be easy? Now that is humorous.

It took a full week (three days were lost to holidays and power outages), three technicians (climbing without ladders like monkeys on the second story whicker roof) and two pieces of new equipment (the monsoon rendered the old equipment useless) to connect to the internet. I gave the technicians big hugs when the connection was made. After all of that, the connection turned out to be too slow and inconsistent to hold a clear Skype call. Not good.

I spent another few days of research, riding around town on my motorbike, gathering information about the best way to make international calls. I now have a mobile phone with an international calling plan. This came as a huge relief just before my first coaching session. The connection was clear and uninterrupted. Whew:)

Looking back all of this, I am amused at how everything worked out although not as planned. I expected to be holding my coaching sessions via Skype video calls. Instead I am using a phone. It is a wonderful reminder that life and work don’t have to go exactly as planned to go well. In fact, life and work don’t go as planned, so why, knowing this, do we all too often fight to carry out our plans? And what do we do when our plan feels absolutely necessary and important? I don’t know… but I imagine that remaining flexible and “in the Balinese flow” while steering toward our intention would be a good start.


– Adrian Klaphaak,

My Bali office in the rice fields... not quite:)

My Bali office in the rice fields... not quite:)

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