A Long Haul

Most of the time my mind is only occupied by my own thoughts. Perhaps that is one of the perks of being a solitudinarian. So pardon me if my thoughts fly away somewhere even when I'm in the middle of conversation. Blame is neither on the conversation nor someone whom i have the conversation with, it's just me. However, I still listen and digest the conversation. It's just my mind that likes to wander so easily, it's just me who cannot bear my own dullness and boredom, as you might say.

Taken at one rooftop of high building on a gloomy day in Bandung, 2016, I guess

During my career break in Australia, I have plenty time to think about everything that revolves around me, from brooding the past, trying to enjoy the present, to worrying about the future. Particularly when I stroll alone, my thought reverberates most strongly.

This year has been very challenging for me. I have taken a rippling change in my life i.e. leaving my very comfort zone. Until last year I had been living a very calming life; mundane on-daily basis activities that apparently never felt insipid. I have had enough of what I need: my own space, camaraderies, adventures, and a full-filling job. It had been happening for almost four years. Even though I still could recall the moments of my tribulation but they were nothing compared to what I had been given. But that is how everything goes with the calm before the storm, for every downhill there is always an uphill. I believe that everything works in an infinite circle, to put in Nietzsche way: Eternal Recurrence. Life, according to him, consists of things with existence that recur over and over for eternity. We are destined to repeat the moments in different forms. We are victim of life, slave of misery.

I should have expected that after a hiatus of tumultuous episodes in my life, an inner turmoil could implode inside my mud of thoughts anytime. No moment in life we could sit back and relax forever. We are creatures plastered with invisible time-bomb on our chest. The bad news is it doesn't display the time. In this case we have two options: ignore it, or embrace it. Whatever my choice was, I succumbed to my own superfluous whim. That I want to proceed to higher education. I want to go vagabonding. I want to have more space in my life to determine what I want to become. I want to travel for a long time. I want to forget. I want to remember. I want more me. I want more time.

More. More. More.

Before I decided to go, I kept hesitating my own sincere motives. Do I do this as a mere form of escapism from my former disappointments? Do I do this because I have been heavily influenced by books and stories of how strangers are escaping their boring life. The more I asked myself, the confusion grew bigger. However, I decided to quit anyway. I had sent a few applications for higher degree education, and went somewhere strange by myself to know how it felt to actually live on my own. I was intent to discover other parts of myself I don't know yet. I went vagabonding 5,377 km approximately from home. I jumped into the hole of uncertainty. I left my comfort zone. I left you.

And it has been more than five months since I took that decision. Trust me, those five months felt like five years already. I would not say that upon my arrival, I was only loaded with jovial moments. The first month of fitting in this city was indescribably tough. My scholarship was delayed or maybe canceled. I had to do three menial part-time jobs to sustain my basic life. I was encumbered with unnecessary what-ifs. I even poised my legs to return home. Furthermore, this moment reminded me as a freshman in college few years ago that had put me in a similar position - something I would never expect to relive because the current intensity was tripled.

I kept knitting a safe net that what happened me might be as normal as to other young people whose dreams are being crushed again and again. It is okay to fail. It is all fine to get disappointed. The more I attempted to rationalize and find petty excuses, the more I revolted myself. I had never been a quiter. So it is okay to quit this time. To be blatantly honest, we don't get used to accepting a series of failure and disappointment. The feeling is still the same no matter how often we take it (lightly). I realized that I have never felt this lonely, lost, and dazed. I was anxious because my days ahead are still tenuous. I was petrified I'd be dead tomorrow and still do nothing significant. I was engulfed in the self-pity and torn between self-compassion and blind aversion. To myself.

One thing that I haven't figured it yet from myself is what I truly wish to be here. I met some people and they aim for some objectives in their life. It took me back to when I was a three grader. My teacher probed me what I wanted to become in life and I repeatedly said that I did not know. She told me that I had to know. So the easiest thing was tagging along behind my classmates' answers. I picked and copied one of their answer and she stopped. I knew later that she was just doing her sacred duty to implant hopes and dreams to me, to grow the urge and the need to be somebody. And suddenly I was brought to remember my initial intention: career break. A year long of doing nothing but what I like with or without certainty. Doing PhD and another settling job might sound good but once again, is it what I deeply want? Yes, but not for now. I'm half sure it is just another escapism. I learned that when you escape from something, it will definitely get back at you one day.

I found this still relevant in my adulthood. When I planned a major change in my life, I kept asking advices from people around me as part of a deliberate action. Sometimes it was good. But later i found that their insights were not always doable since they were incongruous with my life. They might have worn the same shoes, but never be in my shoes. No matter how pungent their insights are. Nevertheless, it seems that I unconsciously built an inviolable self-esteem based on values and opinions from my closest family and friends. That we need someone's approval in making a big decision in our life is a proof that we alone do not suffice.

In contrary, I often think that as I grow older, I am acquiring full permission to access my own life. When I think I myself don't suffice, I witness friends go their own way. We have gradually become apart. My parents who gave me big portion of their freedom now give me full of my own. Sometimes I miss how they looked after me when night got darker but I was still fooling around somewhere. I wish my teacher taught me how to respond to this kind of feeling.

One night I had this vivid dream of you and me. We had been walking a long journey for centuries inside a dark tunnel. We kept walking and hoping something we were looking for was waiting in the end. But we walked and walked, that hope eventually faded away. We started to enjoy what was under the tunnel until we got bored of each other. I woke up with the feeling that was almost similar to drowning. It is like you're thrown into open water for the first time and you cannot swim. You start to panic and your body trembles crazily. You grasp anything you can reach. First you might look and desperately hope for help. But in an instant you know it is a vanity. Instead of merely relying on someone to rescue, your instinctive drowning response begins to work. Your hands and feet flap and paddle involuntarily. You instinctively keep your mouth above the water. You develop a skill to swim and float. It might be enough to keep you alive a bit longer before your muscles wear out and your mind gets tired. But in the end, you still drown, anyway. To think of it again, what matters is the few seconds you have had longer.

Every night before I go to sleep, I have this uncanny feeling that we are minuscule dusts in this entire galaxy meant to surrender to life greater than us but at the same time we are blinking stars trying to light the night sky into beauty.


  1. My parents who gave me big portion of their freedom now give me full of my own> I feel the same way too.

    Anyway, happy birthday... best of luck in Aussie. Hope you enjoy every phase of your life ��


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