A Painting of the Silence, Ubud During Pandemic

A picture paints the silence, Ubud during pandemic. For very good reason, we have not posted anything as yet about the very topic that everyone is discussing everywhere. We have not been oblivious to the developments and continuous stream of covid related news. It has been subconsciously deliberated if we can say that, why it is not a topic that we have brought to attention in a special way. Because we needed every little bit of respite from it. To nurture what confidence we can through it. For life in our community, the Covid Effect was extreme.

Today though, we will talk about it. Perhaps because there seems to be a little pocket of fresh air that is coming through in the world and maybe we are beginning to see the last leg of the covid journey. Perhaps, perhaps not. Ubud, during pandemic has impacted everyone in our community in ways that are life altering. There are no shortage of sad stories. Whether it be from lost family or friends, or from the shocking economic effects it has had on our island and the chain reaction created in every aspect of life amongst our friends and colleagues.

Artwork ‘Pandemi’ by Komang Suardiana. Reflects the silence of Ubud during pandemic.

Pandemi, by Komang Suardiana. This piece by our newest member to Sawidji Artist Collective, reflects the silence so alien to Balinese culture. Our village centres, that is the beating heart of our culture, bears lasting souvenirs of a different kind.

Why have we not talked about it? Oversaturation. Completely over filled to excess with the drumming beat of the Covid drum. But the covid effect has been a blessing in many ways as well. It would be remiss not to see that it has been the primary whip that has urged us to come together and have what we now have together, here at Sawidji.

We needed a place. Sure, everyone needs shelter. Everyone needs a roof over the heads of their families. However, we felt even more importantly, during this past year, we needed a refuge that would nurture all the positive energy we can gather. Covid’s big impact on many is not just physical or economical. The mental effects of isolation, of economic hardship and loss of family or friends is deep. And though I am addressing this topic, it is from the perspective of someone grateful for the many gifts it has brought to us through this hardship.

The memories we have from this time are precious. The Nature around us shows us the meaning of fortitude.

Left: Our team regularly ventures out for walks. For exercise, for team building, for photography. Whatever the many reasons that take us out, we always see beauty and we see life flourishing. Abundance.

Isolation and social distancing is difficult and has different affects on different people. Some are far more comfortable spending time alone than others. I imagine for some people, living in a socially restrictive environment would be very uncomfortable. For many as well, the period of this world pandemic may have been felt in varying degrees. Looking at the world through the news cameras has certainly not been a favourite activity.

In Bali, nearly going on two years, there has been a sense of waiting. Everyone is waiting. Waiting for this to be over. Waiting for things to get back to normal. I could very well argue that the past ‘normal’ was far from normal anyway. It is not as if the history of Bali included 5 star hotels and a world leading tourism industry. That is definitely not normal, when you look at the bigger picture. It has been an exceptional blessing and a luxury to have the good fortune that we have had for the past few decades.

Before which, Bali has faced devastating times before in its history. Its community is strong. The sense of unity and faith in the power of the Natural Universe unflinching. Facing and overcoming hardships as a community united. It would be too idealistic and naive to say that none of that has changed. The good fortune that has come by way of the tourism gateway has brought with it many new challenges for the future of Balinese identity. Perhaps not everyone is always ready to face it, but there are some decisions that are pressing for our communities to make. Choices about who they will become in another decade or two.

Covid has in a lot of ways helped this process of self evaluation. Whether it be conscious or not, it is happening. Out of sheer necessity communities are looking back to their past, for other means of survival. In Ubud alone 80% of businesses have completely or partially closed. For key tourist destinations, the quiet in the streets have been a stark contrast to the past hustle and bustle.

Perhaps I have not touched the subject because it too often gets too much reaction. Emotions too raw, opinions too many, rushing all to be heard. None of which will change the reality that we all must simply get through it. Everyone makes an impact on something, every day. By being alive we are impacting on something somehow all the time. You just have to choose whether you impact things in a positive or negative way.

The Covid period has brought rest to the island of Bali. Perhaps the island was tired, even if the people were not. The air is cleaner, the forests greener. Undoubtedly, most definitely, the oceans beaches cleaner. From this alone, it would be hard to wish things otherwise. I don’t know how else the island may have gotten some much needed respite.

Perhaps it is simply predetermined by our characters how we feel about it. Much like some people can sit quietly through uncomfortably long silences, whilst others could not stand it and must start conversation to ease a tension.

This is simply a reflection of a present history, happening now. At Sawidji, we try to bring our focus to a positive point. Amongst our team and community, these small relationships have the potential to give a lot of strength to each other. Creativity, is a powerful teacher. Channelling our energies together in a positive direction creates powerful momentum and hope for new possibilities. Certainly, this quiet time, with all its dreariness, has brought countless valuable teachings. And awakened our inspiration as well.

This article is available as Podcast on Spotify

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