Reflections on a Nomadic Life: Part 3
It is hard to put into words what it feels like to be living nomadically amidst this COVID-19 pandemic. Since the borders are closing around the world and they have stopped issuing tourist visas here in Bali, my neighbors have been asking me when I am going home? Or why haven't I gone home? I keep having to explain that all this time this past year, I wasn't just visiting...I truly live here. I call this house in the jungle my home. Suddenly the farmers and the small shop owners are noticing me, waving to me with bright smiles as I am one of the last remaining bule in Lodtunduh.
What I've come to terms with is that I cannot go home to the USA where Los Angeles is in lockdown and I doubt I'd be able to just "crash" at a friends after traveling all over Asia. My parents are the only option and I admit many days I want to jump on one of the remaining flights to see them but it would be putting them at risk to go stay with them too at this point. I wouldn't be able to have access to the health I have here despite the possible better healthcare system....and I also don't have health insurance applicable to the USA even though I am still a taxpayer.
I feel like an outlier without any real sense of home. A true citizen of the world with no real sense of what that looks like as borders close and presidents "call home" their people and if I were to leave where I currently am at "home" in Bali, I may not be able to get back in to the USA or return to Bali. My visa expires the 5th of May....so I wait and take it one day at a time.
Suddenly it has become obvious that is it time to get another home and another passport. Remember when I wrote the article, Secrets to Non-Conformity? Amazing how much those principles apply in a time like now when I feel safer in my jungle home than anywhere else in the world but how important a second passport or home would be right about now.
I am also now more connected to my family than ever before amidst this pandemic. I speak to people from all over the world each afternoon after hosting my daily online studio class on IG Live. In the same moment I feel more alone than ever as I brave each day in isolation, writing a new chapter for my life here in Bali, trusting in the nature that surrounds me, taking in lessons in the micro and macro. I will admit though that I am deeply homesick for the first time in my life. Homesick for my family and yearning to be spending these precious moments with them or a new man in my life.
This past month being in Thailand, Laos and all over India in between Feb 1st and March 7th brought me a few instances of being sick with a fever and body aches, each one carrying that weight of "what if I have the coronavirus and I am stuck here?" There is always the chance in travel of illness. True travelers know that. Most of us have had parasites, all kinds of travelers diarrhea, and bites from all kinds of strange insects....Heck just yesterday I woke with a swollen eyelid from a spider bite and then in the evening we had an earthquake. Today they fogged for mosquitos as dengue is on the rise. I have come to terms with the fact that it will always be something and the most important thing we can do is keep our immune system strong, be in vibrant health, and operate in the parasympathetic nervous system so our minds can be calm and at peace. I've always braved new countries fearlessly and taken precautions (or rather learned to take precautions)...but now I ponder how life as a nomad or travel photographer will change. The only thing I know to do is to adapt.
The shift comes from this global unknowing that has us predicting the worst of the world and of nature but could ultimately be for the best. A true awakening and reawakening. I believe this is all happening for us instead of to us. I trust nature. I trust Mother Earth. I trust that we don't need to save her...that she is capable of healing herself, but we as humans need to remember who we are in relation to her. That is why through all this and because of this, some of the most beautiful healing has already begun to occur with a break in pollution and how we are coming together. A friend of mine said that it is as if Mother Nature has put us in time out to think about what we have done. That resonated a lot with me especially while we realize the best way to "save" ourselves is to "stay home".
Meanwhile the majority of Europe, the USA and Australia are under lockdown of sorts, I wait here on an island where the president has been slow to respond despite Indonesia being the 4th most populated country in the world. We don't have tests yet and many people are not social distancing since businesses are still open. As I isolate in my jungle home, I wonder if the dengue or the coronavirus would get me first. I wonder when I will make it home to see my family while I watch my home country shut down. I wonder if the same will happen here and if the farmers won't be there to stop smiling and waving at me. It truly is a time like none of us have seen nor could predict. Most of my business has been put on pause...as the tourism industry and travel industries are effectively shut down as well. I pause to pivot. I find stillness to keep my peace. And for the first time in my life, I put myself to bed by 10;00pm like it's my job.
This ramble of a blog feels more like a time capsule piece than of much value to you. If you do happen to read this amidst the noise of news that occupies many hours of most of our days, I hope some of it resonated. I still believe in a life of nomadism for all the reasons we are currently experiencing in the world...but I have to admit that my priorities have really really shifted. So I will make my way to my loved ones as soon as I feel it safe to do so.