Solitude #22

There are two things I loathe about myself: the overrated affection of books and the stupidity of loving someone too deeply. But this writing has nothing to do with both aforementioned.

Either pondering life or feeling sleepy.

This writing most likely elaborates about what I felt as a kid not wanting to leave my comfort zone. Just in case you miss the moral of the story, here is the down payment: don’t leave your comfort zone unless it comes truly from yourself. 

I remember those days as a kid when few of my friends came over to my house and asked me to go play with them somewhere. I had to refuse by saying my parents kept me at home, instead of saying I don't wanna go. I realized that it was not me speaking but the politeness that had been rooted since my childhood age, not to mention my tendency to keep consternation to myself. Well, to be honest I always preferred playing with my game consoles all day long to going somewhere random with friends. I too always preferred locking myself in a room full of Christian Andersen’s tales and mourned my helplessness after digesting The Little Match Girl or simply spent my day laughing and cheering with Doraemon and Nobita.

I remember one night through bro-talk before sleep, my incorrigible sibling successfully made the concept of retour à la nature so intelligible to me I had no idea I was conceptually being brought to join scouting group in junior high school. One night before my first day in junior high school, he pep-talked me about endless possibilities of being a pre-grown up man, making new friends, doing adventures, and falling in love (I still couldn’t believe I once asked my brother’s advice over a girl sending me a love letter). Later I knew he projected a bit of his adventurous personality into his brothers –not only me – of which I never regret apparently. The only thing he did not know, there were fundamental differences between us brothers: he was really good at making friends and talking with people while I only excelled at being clumsy. I ended up joining scouting group carrying a heavy burden on my shoulder and grudging how the hierarchy of brotherhood could oppress someone’s right to say no.

At first I didn't prepare myself to enjoy the outdoorsy activities in scouting. But as time went by, I, a little bit  or very tiny bit, enjoyed it. I started to feel inexplicable desire when walking far for the first time and being surrounded by tall trees with birds and insects chirping and mumbling. I also started to feel weirdly good when plunging myself into small river and walked down the river with my peers to a reservoir secluded from the hustle and bustle of Bandung city. I had my shoes filled with mud and debris as I found my feet numb and scratched and itched. I liked to complain thousands times why i did that but I discovered thousands reasons why I should not complain. Most of all, there was an overwhelming aftertaste feeling like of sipping a long black that granted me a thin smile of gratitude in the end. That we actually had a chance to break away from seemingly inexorable force of life; bitterness of life is irrevocable but it doesn't make life less worth-living. The latter was only interpreted by adult me. I don't think me that age was capable of describing such immense complexity.

A curiosity ignited within my chest to acknowledge the people and nature. So I swallowed Baden Powell books, as well as Jules Verne’s, McCandless story, Gola Gong’s, and Soe Hoek Gie’s journal. The scouting group had also made me involve in some competitions. There was the first time I felt suck at losing as well as good at winning. The team-work and friendship made me feel ecstatic. These feelings I had harbored for three years in Junior succeeded at sustaining my desire to keep going with nature in senior high school. Unfortunately and strangely, there was no scouting group in my senior high school – one of the best and most favorite senior high schools in Bandung – at that time. So I found my way to Group Pecinta Alam – by the way I think Pecinta Alam cannot be literally translated into English as it is more than an environmental group consisted of people bonded with same passion of enjoying, loving, respecting, and preserving the splendor of nature – but only lasted for one semester. I quit because I did not find myself there. This was the first time I refused to follow my brother’s path and realized the values of being my own. I learned that to quit is sometimes necessary for my own good sake.

After completing junior high school, I received more freedom as I had become a fully legal grown up man, responsible of his own self. I kept expanding my steps and began my journey out of town alone, working and backpacking or as simple as visiting friends. I got lucky I went abroad and stayed quite long time. I got even luckier I went back home instead of my debacle return and still felt welcomed. No, I was neither doing an avid traveler life style nor extreme backpacking. I was a novice. What I had done is just another basic thing in life, looking for a getaway between monotonous mundane daily life. During the journey, I had quite some time to read and brood. Even to have a flash back and formulate what-ifs that gradually fade away my hopes and expectations. Some days pessimism casted a shadow, some days optimism won. And one day, I realized that I am still that kid who used to play game consoles all day long or lock himself in his room with books and comics.

After all I was not adventurous at all, like my sibling.

I was only curious, like myself.