Things have been so much less than rosy these days and I find myself grappling with being ok that things are not fine. On good days, I can easily convince and rationalize with myself: bad days are merely part of life, and when bad days come, I need to remember that they are perfectly normal occurrences and that they will go away. In the throes of bad days, however, I am trying to recall these thoughts but they are so easily dismissed, so easily muted when the brain repeats debilitating and self-deprecating thoughts over and over.
Amidst all that I am facing now, I find myself making myself read books that are helpful, talking to people who lift me up and finding tiny things that give me comfort. These come in the form of the best coffee from around the corner, the pastries from the cafés down the road from home and from the office, the people I have here who make life lighter with the best sense of humour and an incredible amount of warmth.
This post in itself comes out of an attempt to make my gratitude more tangible, more loud and heard than the thoughts I have in my head. This post is a reminder that there are things to be glad and content about even when there seems to be an overwhelming amount of problems and that we can find these things if we only try.
“I release you.
I evict you from my heart because if I don’t do it now, I never will.”
“I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you.”
“Me too; now we know how.”
– Her, 2013
Now we know that we have the ability to love as strongly as we did. Now we know how to love so much that we feel our heart expanding with love in our chest for the other person, that we would give anything humanly possible to be with this person.
But we also know now that love is about the depth of love shared, not about the breadth of time spent together. We know that more time does not necessarily mean more love nor better love. That some of the best feelings in the world are only ephemeral and transient.
And because we know these things, we can let this go and look forward to other things.
We leave the shrine as it is- holy and untouched.
There was no fear or apprehension in the days leading up to my packing of bags and leaving to move to another country. All there was was a state of mind that was sometimes frenzied, overly worried and doubtful, sometimes calm and at times even indifferent.
This lack of fear I attribute to a few things. Firstly, it was perhaps that the intensity of the change had not fully sunk in. Secondly, my brother would be spending over a week with me, helping me with the transition, so plans revolved around what we were going to go and what to eat, all of which were good distractions. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it was the amount of faith that people had in me. If people whom I’ve known for years and others for less than a week all can tell me that they are absolutely certain that I can weather any storm and climb any mountains I face by myself, there is clear reason for me to believe that about myself too, even in time when self-doubt reigns. It is perhaps in their faith that I am brave, and adventurous, and amazingly strong that I am grounded in and it reminds me that I do not have to fear irrationally no matter what my brain says.
So here I am, two weeks into this new phase and still there is no fear nor apprehension; perhaps only a desire for more human interaction sometimes. I am cultivating new habits in this new place and living life now but it doesn’t seem all that real still. It feels as if at any time now, a bell would ring, telling me that my time in this life is up, that the fun and games are over and now I’ll have to return to how my life was previously. But I like it all so far, so please let me continue this dream for a little longer.
The feeling of nostalgia has been very salient recently and it has taken me weeks to make sense of it and to write it down. There has been a repetition of me reminiscing and replaying moments and memories in my head more often now than before.
Here are some examples of the replays:
I walked by the river during lunchtime at work some time ago and pointed out to myself that under this bridge was where Janks told me the funny story about the strange receptionist at his hostel in KL. I walked past a flight of stairs in university and I pointed out that by those stairs was where he sat and waited for my lecture to end to have lunch together.
At that spot by the stage was were LH and I stayed till almost 4 in the morning, filling each other in on what happened the whole of the last year.
In that market was where Steph and Jar were floored by the sheer range of spices and food (it was truly quite a sight) and they were so excited, they seemed like children in a candy shop. At that stage was where we saw a group of performers and Steph danced along to the song even though he had no idea what the lyrics meant.
By that balcony was where Ti and I stood for almost an hour, feeling the light night breeze and sharing about our lives and dreams (we are both going to publish books in the future- him a Dutch one and me an English one).
Riding on this wave of nostalgia, I feel myself missing the memories I’ve crafted only months ago. I think about the time when Soph and I walked by the beach to pick up seashells for each other (we both have a similar set), our yoga and cooking classes together, our longest and deepest talks; the time when Jan and I watched the sun set by the beach bar with our unbelievably expensive, by Indonesian standards, cocktails.
I am experiencing again the time when J and I were at the Ramayana ballet and how that night turned out so much better than I ever thought it would; I am reliving again all of our time together at Jogja, Gili T and Ubud.
These memories and images are still so vivid in my mind’s eye that when these replays happen, I half expect to see these people (sometimes even myself) right in front of my eyes.
As I go to/ by these places again, physically and in my head, I relive these memories and I feel two emotions at once. I am teeming with gratitude because I am reminded of the innumerable precious people I have had the privilege of knowing and of making memories together. I am also deeply yearning to relive these memories again, to meet my friends again and ask them if they think about the times that we shared as much as I do. If they miss them as much as I do. Because I do, I very much do.
There is this sense of discontentment, of feeling a void that should not be gaping but filled. A void created by a yearning for the buildings and lights and hopes and dreams of a different place, a better place. A better life.
There has been no real sanctuary recently and everything feels loud and messy, and all that is happening is a desperate grappling for logic, for something to make sense amongst this chaos that is (in) my mind.
There has been a desire to run, to take action, to make logic happen myself and to see a ripple of reactions and repercussions. To feel something other than fear and hesitation, feelings that overwhelm and keep one stagnant. To take chances and make life happen so that I do not get left behind and given up by myself.
But I have been– am- doing my best, and this, I think, is a consolation and is all that I can hope for.
I teeter at the precipice
stuck between worlds I
ponder: to stay or to go?
– Crossing Universes