In SE Asia, a popular product touted by street vendors is a wooden toad that gives a resonating croak when the accompanying wooden stick is run up it’s carved bumpy back. The hollow croak emitted by the wooden species is the precise sound that I fall asleep to every night – the distinction being my Balinese version is real.

I wake every morning to the sound of roosters crowing, crickets chirping and the words of my Buddhist teacher, Venerable Namgyel “How fortunate you are to have woken this morning because you could have died in the night”.

To many, these words sound terribly morbid, but truth is dying is a part of living. We can live with the delusion that we will never die or we can practice to wake every day with immense gratitude that we are alive and will not waste our life on the petty and painful things that we all too often give energy to!

I am not one for new year’s resolutions because I believe that if you want to change your life you ought to do it now. Tomorrow may never come and the only time we really have is the present. I therefore intend to welcome the dawning of 2011 as I have for the past few weeks from my spot at the edge of the rice field, where I will do pranayam, yoga asanas and qi gong and breathe fully a feeling of gratitude that I am alive and blessed.

In the exquisite words of one of my favourite poets, Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life

that runs through my veins

runs through the world

and dances in rhythmic measure.

It is the same life

that shoots in joy

through the dust of the earth

into numberless blades of grass,

and breaks into tumultuous waves

of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked

in the ocean cradle of birth and death,

in ebb and in flow.

My limbs are made glorious

by the touch of this world of life;

and my pride is from the life throb of ages

dancing in my blood this moment.