The Transferable Reader and Writer- Bali Days

I have recently returned from three weeks holiday in Bali. The reason I share this fact with you is not to gloat, but rather to reveal how this sweet vacation enabled me to claim reading and writing time. Naturally, the time away provided fun and relaxation with family and friends. Following the coldest winter in 26 years in Melbourne, I was keen to warm my winter bones.

Notebook and reading options on the beach

 There were the usual holiday activities, and I eagerly embraced them, but something I noticed was how easy it was to both read and write across my days in the sun. Once the fog of work ebbed from my mind, I easily settled into the routine of reading and writing in a host of locations. Whether I was on the beach, relaxing in our accommodation, or cruising through cafes in search of a coffee or a cool drink, I was able to also feed the reader and writer within. Quarantining time for these joyful tasks was quite easy to achieve in such an environment.

Often, we are unaware of what reading provides. We just read, immersed in a world of rich print. The words we are reading were written in another place and another time. It gives the reader an historical perspective. While living my life, I can also experience the lives of others.

So as I sat under a large beach umbrella in Legian, Bali, reading Anson Cameron’s memoir, ‘Boyhoodlum’ I was transported back in time to Shepparton, Victoria in the 1960’s. I left my immediate world for another one. That’s the power of reading. All that was happening in my head and everyone around me remained oblivious to my reading journey. My reading provided relief and escape. It fed my writing. When I needed to refresh, I was able to amble into the surf, before recommitting to more of the same. What a great routine. 

And as I read, my mind was also entertained with writing possibilities. Across the days I slipped easily between reading and writing. My desire to read and write did not waiver. The mood was right and the conditions ideal.

The reading I did inspired action.  There remained much sustenance for such deeds. I rose each morning at 6.30 am and walked for an hour before the heat of the day took hold. The streets were quiet and the tide was low and there was much to see. I used this time to rehearse for writing, not escape it. I organized my thoughts, bandied words and ideas in my mind, and made close observations of my surroundings. I took photos and shot short videos to further support my thinking. Following breakfast, I sat and wrote in the tranquil surrounds of our accommodation. The words flowed across my notebook pages with ease. My notebook is a travelling companion.

I collected artefacts and ephemera during my Bali visit, pasting them across my notebook pages and writing around them. I left spaces for the photographs I would insert upon my return.  I have come home with collected treasure. These memories form songs in my mind. They will sing to me in the days ahead.

My one regret across my time was contained in a conversation I had with a young boy who was also holidaying in Bali. As he watched me living as a reader, I inquired as to what he was reading and he replied, ‘It’s the holidays.’ By inference I gained the strong impression he considered reading and holidays as mutually exclusive experiences. His response saddened me somewhat. His perception of reading was that it was a school activity and not something you would choose to participate in recreationally, or for personal growth. 

When kids develop such beliefs, it means their schools have failed to grow the essential understanding that reading and writing are not just for school, but exist well beyond the classroom. Physical activity and intellectual activity should be able to thrive alongside each other.


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