Are you an insider or an outsider?

The 15th Ubud Writers Readers Festival kicked off yesterday, 25th October 2018. I’ve had my program for a week, scoured the options and circled the session I’ll attend. Of course I want to be at two or three places at the same time, but this isn’t possible, so I’ve made choices.

I chose ‘Crossing Cultures’ as my first session yesterday and I was not disappointed. Karmin Mohammadi and Carlo Pizatti shared their experiences of living in and embracing a new home away from the one they were born into. I listened to them talking about always being an outsider, seeing everything with fresh appreciation, and the love they shared for their new home and its people. I heard Carlo say, “On a bad day I don’t feel I belong anywhere.” He also said, “Home is a place I hold inside me instead of a physical place.” Everything they said resonated with me.

They were telling of lives very similar to the one I’ve always embraced. All of my adult life I’ve chosen to live outside my comfort zone. My first six years was spent in rural Queensland. This was easy; they all spoke English. But for the next sixteen years I lived and worked in the Torres Strait and Lockhart River Aboriginal community. They spoke their own languages and English was always the second language.

In 1999, I moved to Bali and this has been my home ever since. My Bahasa Indonesia is far from perfect, but it’s the language I communicate in everyday. I have chosen to live my life as an outsider. This suits me. Everyday challenges me and I’m stimulated by new experiences that I try to unravel. I suppose it is no wonder I write.

So I listened to Karmin and Carlo share snippets of their lives and read sections from their books. And as they talked, I scribbled notes about always being an outsider. All too quickly their session was over and I was dashing off to the next session and more personal insights.

The festival runs for four days and I’ll saturate myself in other people’s experiences and gain more insights in how I’ve chosen to live my life.

I love being an outsider, discovering new worlds and interesting people and cultures. What about you?

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