The Middle Way


There was a time in college and just after in which I was completely obsessed with James Joyce; I really considered myself a disciple of his life and work.

Among many other things, I loved his appropriation of the Daedalus/Icarus myth.  Giving his alter ego the name Dedalus, Joyce chose a middle way, not flying too high so that his wings wouldn’t melt under the sun, nor too low to be drowned by the sea.  And Daedalus was a master craftsman.  This is how Joyce reconciled his Catholic youth with his adolescent hedonism and his life as an artist.


Like most of the major religions of the world, Balinese Hinduism acknowledges the human crisis, caught between good and evil.  Unlike most, however, in Balinese Hinduism both good and evil are considered to be benevolent and malevolent forces.  Rather than trying to repress darkness, the Balinese see it as an inevitable part of life, and by acknowledging it correctly, you can live with and not be consumed by it.  Just so with the gods, who can be as fickle as humans.


Driving the streets of Yogyakarta can be a challenge.  In a word, chaotic.  Most drivers use motorbikes, and when approaching a red light, everyone is jockeying for better position.  When the light turns green, all the motorbikes are packed closely together, and starting again always feels a little nerve wracking.  As everyone starts, all the bikes swerve when accelerating and resuming balance.


In the end, it is all the same.  Life is really a question of balance.


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