he air was dense with moisture, intellect, and inspiration in Ubud this past week as authors, writers, journalists, and readers descended on this historically bohemian and deeply spiritual city in Bali to celebrate the 14th annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF).
Bali has long been a haven for seekers and creatives. Well before Elizabeth Gilbert walked the streets of Ubud and penned the wildly popular account of her journey Eat, Pray Love, this predominantly Hindu island has been a hotspot on the map for spirituality and those seeking a deeper connection within and outside of themselves. Being dubbed “The Island of the Gods,” Bali certainly lives up to its reputation.
In keeping with the magic this island seems to conjure, I was enlightened to UWRF through an aimless rabbit hole on the internet as I was researching Bali before I embarked on a destinationless journey with no defined path or end. I set out for Bali to write and fuel the flames of passion within my soul, and was delighted to discover the gem that is UWRF.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I could expect from UWRF, but with over 150 speakers from 31 countries and discussion panels titled Incredible Journeys, The Pleasures of Leisure, A Question of Faith, Love in a Time of Hate, and The Mother Lode, I knew I’d discovered a literary treasure chest.
The festival was fruitful to say the least. A sweet and magical combination of intellectual talks, synchronistic encounters, and sharing space with global influencers and internationally acclaimed authors, I found myself in a writer’s haven in paradise.
It’s hard to summarize my experience throughout the four-day festival as I was consuming about as much inspiration as tasty food and fresh coconut water, but there were some profound nuggets of wisdom that I furiously scrawled on the pages of my notebook as my jaw dropped and chills covered my body, despite the tropical af weather. UWRF was a soul food buffet and you best believe I indulged. Talks ranged from esoteric to political, poetic to cultural, and nearly all involved some aspect of travel.
To say the least, I am full of inspiration, passion and even more of a travel bug than I ever thought possible. Feast your hungry soul on some of the wisdom I now carry with me from UWRF ‘17.
Golden Nuggets of Wisdom from UWRF
- “Hate is not our natural state. Hate is not sustainable. Our natural state is love. Let’s create love-based solutions to hate-based problems.” – Nusrat Durrani, Love in a Time of Hate
- “Art, literature, and film give us reflections of ourselves. It is only when we see reflections of ourselves through these mediums that we understand who we really are. That’s why we need art.” – Tenzin Dicky, Preserving Culture
- “Leisure must be freely chosen. To be the master of your own time is to truly enjoy it. All culture is play—after loafing and grooming, we must play.” Robert Dessaix, The Pleasures of Leisure
- “Pleasure cannot be bought, like many Westerners think. It must be lived, experienced, felt.” Robert Dessaix, The Pleasures of Leisure
- “Western culture over rates [the esoteric] massively, but there is nothing new about anything that we believe now that hasn’t been practiced throughout the millennia that came before us.” – Paula Constant, Incredible Journeys
- “If we give over our need to control, especially as women, and align with the cycles of the moon and the rhythm of nature, we come to realize we already know everything we need to know.” – Paula Constant, private interview
- “Religion is gorgeous, beautiful nonsense. Faith is something that you choose; beliefs require a certain amount of evidence.” – Robert Dessaix, A Question of Faith
- “Fulfillment means to flower, so that what is already innate in you is given a chance to flower and your inner self comes through.” – Robert Dessaix, private interview
- “I see the idea of the eternal feminine archetype as being quite limiting in our modern world. Anything eternal is ever constant, and never changing. But we are seeing a need for a more masculine feminine in these unique political times. We are seeing a unity and solidarity among women that is being fueled by not backing down to the traditional patriarchy, but standing up to embody what we know we are capable of.” – Josephine Wilson, The Mother Lode
- “With everything happening in the world, this is a time to engage collectively rather than retreat and care only for yourself. The wellness industry encourages selfish care, when really what we need is selfless care for others.” – Brigid Delaney, private interview on her newly released book, Wellmania
It was impossible to be everywhere at once, and while I attended some powerful panel discussions and personally interviewed a handful of renowned authors, there were surely some incredible conversations I missed out on. Regardless, I was thoroughly inspired and wholly exhausted by day four.
In addition to the panel discussions, workshops, and special events throughout the festival, we were also treated to afterdark live music, films, book launches, poetry slams, and the chance to share a Bintang beer and get some face time with the writers and authors who dropped literary bombs of truth throughout the four days.
If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend attending the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. We will certainly be returning next year and I can’t even begin to imagine the weight of the gold to be discovered in the future.
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