#tbt: Nyepi – the Balinese New Year…a day of self-contemplation

To all of my Balinese friends:  Selamat hari raya Nyepi!

This Saturday all of Bali will celebrate Nyepi, the Balinese new year.  After thanksgiving it is probably one of my favorite holidays.  Nyepi, also known as the “day of silence”, is 24 hours of self contemplation.  In the months leading up to Nyepi, kids in banjars (villages) construct elaborate statues called Ogoh-ogoh.  On the eve of Nyepi, Balinese around the island carry the Ogoh-ogoh in processions and subsequently burn them.  This practice is meant to cleanse the island of any bad spirits.  On the day of Nyepi, no one is allowed to leave their house, the entire island is silent, and no lights can be used.

I remember last year having the amazing opportunity to take part in this holiday.  The entire island closed down, including the airport.  As the sun began to set, no one was allowed to let any light shine outside…not even the candle-light we were using to try to cook our fish!  What resulted though was truly breathtaking.  Sitting on the stairs leading up to my neighbor’s temple, the stars across the sky shined bright.  With no light pollution from the island, the sky was an amazing spectacle…the Milky Way brightly exposed.  What struck me even more was the realization that at that moment, the entire Balinese population (over 4 million people) was cut off from the rest of the world…together with family and friends to contemplate the previous year, and begin the next year anew.

While I would love to be there in person, I wish everyone in Bali a peaceful Nyepi as the entire island steps off the grid to self-contemplate and be with family and friends…something I think we should all take more time to do and embrace.

#tbt – Boys of the Banda Islands, Indonesia

Kids in Banda

While I was wandering around Banda Neira in the Banda Islands, I came across these kids playing in the trees.  They clambered around the trees and barrels as they enjoyed a quick photo shoot.  They serve as a great reminder to find joy in the simple things of life…and that tree climbing is fun no matter where you are in the world.

Past (and current) Inspiration – Patriots Super Bowl Champions…a hopeful serendipity!

11 years ago, the Patriots won the Super Bowl just two weeks before my surgery.  A year into my successful recovery, the Patriots won again.  11 years later, and just a week before I begin treatment, the Patriots are Super Bowl champions…perhaps a hopeful serendipity?!  Hoping the pattern continues, and that next year I am celebrating another Super Bowl win after a year of successful treatment.

Past Inspiration – Sunrise over Mt. Merapi

Sunrise over Merapi - CROP

In the craziness of figuring out all of my medical treatments, I have forgotten to post Past Inspiration photos every Thursday.  This morning as the sun was rising on my way to another appointment, my mom and I passed a snowy field covered with a thick layer of fog.  It reminded me of my favorite sunrise in Indonesia.  The fog blanketed the forest below where the world’s largest Buddhist Temple, Borobudur, is located (…see if you can spot where it is).  On that day the sun rose perfectly at the peak of Mt. Merapi, an active volcano.  It was such a peaceful morning, and reminds me that in the midst of countless appointments and treatments, to stay calm and appreciate those brief moments of serenity.

Past Inspiration – Family photo at the waterfalls of central Bali

Family Bali WaterfallMy family and I at my favorite place in Bali.  As we begin this new year, what gives me strength and hope is my family.  They are the ones who continue to inspire me to push forward and accomplish my new year’s resolution – to open up to support and be vulnerable.

Past Inspiration – Boys of Inle Lake, Myanmar

Boys of Inle Lake, MyanmarIn my first post to my Past Inspiration photo series, I’ve chosen this photo of two boys passing by on their boat at Inle Lake in Myanmar during the end of my Luce scholarship year.  It reminds me to appreciate what I have, and to find joy everyday in life.  I hope you all have a happy holiday!