This new era has brought tremendous change, much of it unfathomable only five months back. Back then, I joyfully boarded a plane from Philly to Denpasar, completely unaware that our world would implode as a novel virus slammed its way into our lexicon and reality.
March 25, 2020 (25 Maret, 1942 Balinese Saka Calendar)
People have marveled at the bizarre Balinese holiday I have talked about for years, and am currently, fully immersed in now back home in Philadelphia. New Year’s – also known as Nyepi, the “day of silence,” marks an annual ritual that arrives once every 310 days on their calendar: it is a special holiday that each of the four million Balinese Hindu must follow religiously. For 36 hours the island is on mandatory lockdown, we retreat behind closed doors, all traffic halts, airports are literally closed, everyone is confined to their family home, sounds and lights are kept low, and all of these changes strictly enforced by local authorities. Yes, this sounds harsh, and all-too-familiar to each of us now….
Sitting on my porch, kind of like back home where I overlook the deep hibernating trees of Carpenters Woods, but here instead the fallow fields with clumps of green & brown cut rice stalks mired in the dark earthy mud, surrounded by shimmering pools of standing rain water. It is mid-afternoon, just south of 90 degrees, and a warm wind blows through the trees, offering only a slight reprieve from the heat. I love my neighbors the ducks as they gaggle, quack and waddle around, pecking bugs from the still pools, gleaning old rice grains missed at harvest time.
Deep sigh…first an apology of not writing my annual letter from Indonesia, where I easily can capture the palpable energy around me and translate it from an unseen frequency into English and onto the screen/page distilled through my Laura perspective. But alas, I was just too full on this trip I didn’t have a chance to sit at the computer for my annual indulgence of writing you all, so now on my first day back, I am perched up in my home office in Philadelphia, on the 3rd floor of our old and fabulous house, looking out over the slate roof tops of my neighborhood with the very, pale steel grey sky as back drop…quite a contrast to the vibrant greens from where I have just come.
This morning I thought I was having some bizarre dream with super loud speakers blaring right next to my bed, vibrations shaking my core with Adele singing “Hello” at the top of her lungs. Instead it was 5:45 AM and I was indeed awoken by a recording of Adele singing from across the rice fields (in English no less). This rallying cry was for the whole neighborhood to rise up and gather for go for a two hour walk together through the village, before the heat of day melts the locals and the traffic on the road makes our mass migration impassible. My friend said it was for relaxation to go together, a Sunday morning stroll, and for sure no one broke a sweat because we all ambled so slowly, not unlike the