Self-isolating in Bali

I live a charmed life. But I have to admit that last week in Italy was challenging. I wondered if my flight would be cancelled, or if I’d be denied entry into Indonesia – the country was closing its borders – or if I’d get too close to someone en-route who was already infected and…

None of the above happened. I arrived home to the humid, chewable air, the familiar scents, sounds, and sights, and went immediately into self-quarantine. It was easy to stay home, I was jet-lagged after all. I ate, slept, and read the news…and read the news…and read the news…

Fourteen days later when I ventured into the streets of Ubud it was hard to believe the world was in the grips of a raging pandemic. Tourists clustered in cafes. Locals sat in groups chatting. Drivers touted taxi services and practitioners offered massages to all who passed. Didn’t they know? Was nobody taking the threat of this rapidly spreading disease seriously?

I went home and didn’t emerge again.

Then the wild Ogoh-Ogoh parade that ushers in the Balinese new year was cancelled and the traditional Day of Silence that follows was increased to two days. March 25th and 26th people were not allowed out of their homes. Police and regional security guards patrolled the streets to ensure there were no trespassers.

Following those days of absolute lockdown, the governor of Bali instructed residents to remain at home as much as possible, study at home, work from home, and only go out for groceries or emergencies. Authorities explained social distancing, an utterly foreign idea in this communal culture, and urged compliance.

Immigration posted a notice there would be no more visas issued in Indonesia. Anyone wishing to travel here must procure documents from the Indonesian Consulate in their own country with an attached certificate of good health. In the space of three days, the complexion of the island did an about-face.

Today the entire world shares a common crisis. If ever there was a chance to unify, this is it. At the community level, people are pulling together to help, often at immense personal risk. I’ve had many messages from friends, Do you need anything? Are you managing okay?

As days go by with no end in sight I find ways to busy myself. Then I came across a quote by the Dalai Lama that made me think:

The way through sadness and grief that comes from great loss is to use it as motivation and to generate a deeper sense of purpose.

The deaths of so many are a great loss. The restriction of freedom to move about is a great loss. The disappearance of jobs, of savings, of the fragile security that tomorrow will be a mirror of today, are great losses to name a few. How do I use sadness and grief as motivation? What can I do while confined in my home to generate a deeper sense of purpose?

In Italy I managed to write a post almost every day while exploring the length and breadth (and height!) of Praiano. When I stopped there were people who told me they missed reading about my adventures over their morning coffee. That was even before we were confined to our houses. Perhaps my deeper purpose is to continue entertaining my readers, to offer a moment’s distraction to laugh, or to ponder a different perspective.

I’ve found it difficult to write. It seems there’s so much content pouring forth – something for everyone – what could I possibly add? The answer that came was so obvious I hadn’t seen it. You do what you’ve always done. Tell the stories, your experience of these unprecedented times, your self-discovery. That alone is unique. It doesn’t matter if nobody cares. You do it for you.

So I’ll do just that, with huge gratitude for the internet that still connects us.

Question to ponder:

Is it possible for you to use this time of sadness and grief as motivation to discover a deeper purpose for your life?

29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stevecastley
    Mar 30, 2020 @ 18:36:26

    Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to future posts as well. Stay safe and well and keep on sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Amanda
    Mar 30, 2020 @ 19:30:38

    I have been reading your blog for a while now and really enjoy the stories of your times in Bali and in Italy. I am very familiar with Bali and also the Amalfi coast in Italy and your descriptions of both are quite wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. judybali
    Mar 30, 2020 @ 19:40:05

    Hi Sherry I was just thinking about you today and what an idyllic time you had in Italy and thank goodness you got back in time and that you are not sick. What an extraordinary time we are living in. It’s hard for all of us because we are such social beings But at least we live in a time where we can stay connected. I spoke to Wayan in Ahmed and he seems to be Going okay. It must be really hard for the locals to adjust their behaviour as it is for us. Here in Australia we are instage three which means that we can only go out and congregate as two people only and only for the purpose of exercise shopping for necessities or going to the doctor. I’ve been disinfecting everything and trying to stay well. We must also be 2 metres apart. Yes please keep writing. If I know one positive about this pandemic it has gotten a lot of people to be creative. Lots of love to you and say hi Wayan.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Tracie
    Mar 30, 2020 @ 20:14:02

    Thank you for this message! I am seeing it first thing in the morning here and it motivates me to get up, get some air and make meaning of the day!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. James
    Mar 30, 2020 @ 20:56:44

    I first read you Italy, and enjoyed your daily writings. When you got home, I missed your daily’s. Glad to hear you will get back at daily,s if possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. Anonymous
    Mar 30, 2020 @ 22:03:27

    Yes, I’ve missed your Italy posts! I’ll look forward to new discoveries. sl

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Arvind J Ved
    Mar 30, 2020 @ 23:29:23

    Thank you for sharing dear
    god bless you

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. handsomestofall
    Mar 30, 2020 @ 23:33:17

    …..Hopefully, this year’s flu hysteria epidemic/pandemic will NEVER be repeated again. Not having a vaccine, for a flu strain, is not a good reason for this type of a local or a worldwide panic.

    The appropriate quote for this flu season is “fooled me once, shame on you, fooled me twice shame on me.”

    IR, from restricted California, USA.

    On March 30, 2020 3:25:09 AM writing for self-discovery

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. Kim
    Mar 31, 2020 @ 00:47:34

    I am so glad to see your post – I have been reading your blog forever and have been worried about you since your return from Italy. I am so relieved you are healthy!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. Carol
    Mar 31, 2020 @ 04:49:46

    Glad you’re doing well!

    Like

    Reply

  11. Marlys
    Mar 31, 2020 @ 05:44:09

    Hope the day finds you well in this time of isolation. I so enjoy reading all your posts. I miss Bali so much. I’m still working few hours here in Australia and was hoping to visit Bali in coming months but life on hold for all of us. Back in 1995-2000 having lived in Jakarta I spent much time in Bali. Taught English to staff in various hotels in Sayan and Singaraja etc. coming from MN to Indonesia same as you, I found Indonesia became home in my heart and remains still after all these yrs. I was so looking forward to meeting you in person. It will happen eventually. The world needed to make everyone slow down and ponder priorities of life. THANKYOU for writing. Please continue as I live vicariously through your thoughts and experiences. Now I need to get ready for work. Till next time, Marlys in Aus

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Mar 31, 2020 @ 20:04:47

      Marlys, thanks so much for sharing a bit about yourself and your hopes. It’s so sad that we needed a calamity like this to ‘slow down and ponder the priorities of life’ as you say. But I’m grateful to see nature responding – more birds and butterflies in my garden – clearer air – I can see the stars…

      Like

      Reply

  12. Anonymous
    Mar 31, 2020 @ 06:24:51

    In answer to your question – oh yes – definitely a perfect opportunity to get some ‘inner’ work done. I’m loving this quiet time. Thanks for your thoughtful writing once again.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Mar 31, 2020 @ 20:01:14

      For those who are comfortable in their own skin, and have sufficient resources to wait it out, this retreat from social interaction can feel like a gift. Yet at the same time, I’m mindful of those who have lost loved ones, and those who are fighting to save lives with inadequate supplies or personal protection, and all the others delivering food orders, working in factories making more masks, respirators, hazmat suits…

      Like

      Reply

  13. Diane Struble
    Mar 31, 2020 @ 16:03:28

    In spite of it being in Italy, I thought Praiano was probably one of the safest places on the planet for you. What can be more empty than a tourist town in the off season!
    More concern was for the trip home. I will be looking forward to more stories now. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  14. myrisz
    May 03, 2020 @ 04:18:48

    I lobe Bali so much and Its great to hear police are patrolling as I read the news that Indonesia doesn’t impose quarantine like Malaysia and Singapore and was worried what would happen in Indonesia. Its great to hear lots of people are unified in handling this situation. I love your story and I am glad you are able to find you way to write more and be authentic. Stay safe and healthy love.

    Like

    Reply

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