Monkey Madness

I awoke this morning to a fierce rain shower and monkeys scampering about the villa. It was quite the combination of entertainment, a la National Geographic, and mitigated any frustration I could have had over missing my early morning yoga practice.

I mean … monkeys!

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Sure, they’re annoying AF to the locals here. Probably in the same way that raccoons and skunks are an everyday nuisance back home in Illinois. But they are a novelty to me and remain fun to watch, even after my countless encounters with them across India, Nepal, Costa Rica, Thailand, etc.

You’d think I’d be bored with monkeys by now. But … no. I can’t get enough of them.

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One of the reasons why is because they serve as a fun metaphor. They are a reminder, for me, of our primitive playfulness as human beings and our “monkey brain” nature.

By “monkey brain,” I mean how our minds tend to be on overdrive, almost in an ADD fashion, scampering from one collective thought to the next, zig-zagging to-and-fro between past, present and future.

The way that monkeys move – climbing, jumping, rolling, running, sometimes all at once – remind me of how our brains often move. And for me, this ties directly back to yoga and meditation, as those practices are meant to calm this uncoordinated mental-emotional “monkey” gymnastics.

So, monkeys remind me of yoga.

Boy oh boy, I got a heavy dose of it this morning. “Monkey yoga,” that is.

It began when I awoke to the sound of rain. I opened my door to see how hard it was coming down. When I did, I discovered a monkey slowly walking by the pool with his tail curled up. He was just a few feet away. He stopped and stared at me. I stared back. We acknowledged each other, then he moved on – and I quietly shut the door.

A few moments later, I heard screeching outside of my window. I open the curtains and looked up to see monkeys running back and forth on the staggered rooftop. They were either playing or fighting – I couldn’t tell. But it was aggressive.

Suddenly, one of them fell from the roof down to the rice paddy field adjacent to the villa. He came down with a large splash, as the rice paddy was filled with water from the continued downpour. I thought the monkey was dead. He came down so hard. It was as though one of his monkey friends threw him off the roof purposefully. But no – this monkey valiantly rebounded, emerging from the water. He ran back toward the villa, climbed a nearby tree and got back on the roof. The screeching and play-fighting continued.

Meantime, the farmer next door appeared with a very, very large wooden stick. He’s crept slowly in the rice paddy, eyeing the roof and fence that lines the property. He was definitely looking for monkeys, probably in an effort to protect his crops.

A monkey suddenly appeared on the fence nearby. WACK! Down came the farmer’s giant stick, just missing the monkey who jumps away in time. The farmer continued wacking the stick each time he spotted a monkey. It was like the Indonesian version of Whack-a-Mole. Only the moles were monkeys and the soft, red hammer was a giant stick.

I found the whole scene hilarious. There was no way the farmer’s stick was going to keep the monkeys away. In fact, I like to believe they found it amusing and were teasing the farmer. I was rooting for the monkeys.

I watched this scene play out for a good 25 minutes. The rain. The monkeys. The farmer. It was free entertainment, courtesy of simply being in Bali – and keeping my eyes open.

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