s i n k
i n t o t h e
s i l e n c e
As you may know, yesterday I spent over 24 hours confined within the walls of my villa as part of the traditional Balinese New Year Celebration, Nyepi Day. To save me trying to explain it, please take 30 seconds to read this: Nyepi Day, for fear that none of the rest of this will make any sense without its context.
Now I’m not writing about Nyepi Day itself, or trying to establish a connection between myself and the meaning it has to the Balinese people. It’s not my holiday to celebrate. What it did do for me however, was force the day of self reflection and personal growth I had hoped for, but didn’t expect to happen. It turned out to be far more meaningful than I had envisioned.
At first my biggest concerns were that of intense boredom, restless legs and also snacks.
I have walked everywhere since I got here, and walk everywhere back home. The idea of not being able to step outside (without the luxuries of Uber eats and a hangover that justifies it) was worrisome to me.
But as a wise man once said, we “started from the bottom now we here”. So this is how it went.
I slept in, like as a long as I physically could. My theory? The longer I slept, the quicker the day would be over. I still wasn’t entirely sure of the protocol regarding leaving my room etc. and I was so nervous about offending someone or causing any disrespect to this holy day. Eventually I needed to escape to find my food and was surprised to find many villa guests around the pool.
This was only my second night at this accommodation and to be honest it’s pretty dank, sorry, affordable, it’s uh, cost effective. So anyway up until now I was under the impression I was one of only three other guests. I was already assuming this situation was going to turn into some tropical horror movie.
Despite the previous two days of drizzle, the weather was really turning it on. I got some sun, got stuck into my wanky organic breakfast I had purchased in preparation and listened to a podcast. One that particularly resonated with me. The story of a woman in her early thirties with a life that deserved no complaint, yet she felt a dull ache of inactivity. She found her comfort in writing. OH, HOW THIS IS RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS.
She spoke of themes such as learning to love yourself, being present, exploring discomfort and healing through letting go. She spoke of giving too much life and attention to sadness by keeping it in conversation. OOUF. This one got me good.
Eventually, maybe because I looked lonely or sad, or maybe it was because one of the other guests really wanted to try on my sunnies (which he did, inclusive of selfie) I was asked to come and hang out.
Here was my first Stepiphany of the day: maybe this place ain’t so bad? If I can choose to deal with the bathroom decorated with inspiration taken from Russia’s Toughest Prison, (a lighthearted documentary I watched last week. Look it up! Spoiler alert: it’s fucked) I can stick with this place a few more days.
So I should stop being a princess, get over my first world problems and just suck it up. I’ll spend less time in my room and hang by the pool with my new friends instead. Remember this was the goal of week two. Acheived!
Eventually everyone tired of the ‘where are you from/how’s the weather back home?’ and my own personal ‘why is this dude taking selfies in my sunnies’ and ‘why is this literally the fourth time this has happened to me with this particular pair of shades?’
The group of new pals dissipated and I went upstairs to nap and cancel my new air bnb booking for alternate accommodation I planned to head to immediately upon the conclusion of Nyepi Day.
I soon realised that due to my turbo charged cold brew I had with breakfast, I had no chance of sleeping. A daily luxury I have become far too accustomed to of late. RIP Adelaide me upon my return. Instead, I succumbed to more epiphanies. Nothing major, just a few little cute ones.
I realised that maybe I could do a yoga class outside the confines of my own home, and the assistance of YouTube. After only a few sessions over here, I can actually feel myself becoming more flexible. I thought a lot about my health, and how healthy I have been in Bali. There is no reason I cannot carry this back home with me. I thought about how much and how often I drink in Adelaide, and how much it affects my productivity and also my bank account.
I thought about work. I thought back on, and re-read back over the overwhelming support I received for my writing last week. I felt like maybe, just maybe there’s something better out there for me other than being the Gorman Girl.
There were whispers of other things too, bigger things. Something about learning to protect my heart, to refrain from loving so hard and so quickly. A quality in myself I feel is admirable and excruciating in equal measure, to both myself and those around me. We’ll keep working on unpacking that one later, that might be a long term goal.
I spent the rest of the evening bingeing Netflix and double tapping food photos. Mostly thinking about breakfast.
After a gentle reminder late at night, I went out and looked at the sky. Somehow over the previous few hours I got caught up and forgot about what was happening out there, or rather: everything that wasn’t. It was pitch black, a darkness I’ve never really experienced. I walked out onto my balcony.
I looked up at the sky and soaked in the silence. I don’t think my body has necessarily changed in appearance too much since I’ve been here but I feel healthier, even if just in the mindset that I can roll with for the physical motivation. I became acutely aware of and felt that delicious pain and discomfort, of muscles which have been left unused for too long.
And for that moment, I felt good about myself.
I stared upwards and was utterly consumed by the sight of the Milky Way. It was so bright and felt so close.
It was overwhelming. I breathed deep into the darkness and let a couple of tears fall down my cheeks. I don’t really know what they were for, but they came so freely I chose not to overthink it.
I wish I could say my spiritual awakening came to a particularly movie-esque finale. Shutting the door behind me and succumbing to a deep peaceful sleep. A weight lifted and a future with change in it’s midst.
But it didn’t. I still wasn’t fucking tired.
I spammed my friends on Messenger until they all fell asleep, or more likely politely stopped replying to their stir crazy friend. I continued to binge on Grace & Frankie and had another moment of clarity with one of the characters.
“What’s wrong?” she was asked.
“Everything and nothing” she responded.
I feel the same. I have no complaints about my life, nor should I. I have a wonderful life. A beautiful home which is all mine, I am constantly cocooned by incredible humans who love me, and I’m always having fun. Yet I feel unaccomplished, unfulfilled.
So I began to write this post.
Before I knew it I was wired, frantic fingers not keeping up with the pace of my thoughts. Throughout the process I thought about many of those things that had rattled around my brain over the course of the day. I let the silence and the darkness I knew was outside take over, you know, really lean into it.
Until I was brought to an abrupt stop. The silence and the darkness had brought me a friend. Now before you start assuming I’ve completely lost my shit in Canggu, it wasn’t a spiritual guide, apparition or magical mentor.
It was a bug, a massive fucking flying bug. Buzzing around my room. Amidst the darkness of Denpasar, he sought solace in the light of my laptop.
He too, *dramatic pause* was seeking the light.
2AM and my expectation of the final act, the curtain falling on my day of awakening came to an end, like this:
Me wrapped up like a burrito in my blankets, terrified. However, this time thankfully the middle of the night fear came not from waking up with the crippling panic of a life shrouded in indecision, or the burden of being stagnant. But by a bug. The vision of a bug crawling into my mouth during the night, and another scene from the tropical horror movie I mentioned earlier.
By morning my friend was gone. But my epiphanies hadn’t left me.
A strange visitor in the night had brought me fear. Tangible and literal fear. But in other ways, I have begun to feel brave.