I have had a feelings of excitement, longing and even nostalgia over the past few weeks. It is a what I would imagine ending a relationship due to distance would be like, I need to move on to the next steps and finish schooling, though I feels like I am leaving a long-time friends and a relationship that still has so much to explore. Living in Indonesia over the past 5 months has been an adjustment, eye-opening, and humbling experience. The people I have talked to and met are admirably curious about what I am doing, thinking and why I am here, all the while being friendly and welcoming at the same time. In my mind, I am still working through the differences and considering the similarities in values I have here. There is so much access to beautiful flavours, colours and diversity of experiences, even if I often have to leave the city to see some nature! Being in Indonesia has come with both personal challenges, growth from this and I think more of an understanding that I am not, nor will I be done learning. Continuous learning has been a theme in the last few years for me, through courses and experiences – I feel it is central to life. In alignment, what drives me is the recognition and promise of change.
In metaphor, life is a series of overlapping moments of connection – as the leaves below. The the light shines through the brightest when there is space for movement, though the most interactive and conjunct are the darker more difficult moments – where the most learning takes places through challenge. As change is inevitable, so presents the opportunity to connect, evolve and foster a network of experiences and community.
I have found that if habitually I keep look forward, the easier it is to look back. When going back to my arrival in Jakarta, I cannot miss all the time in between where my community, knowledge and attachment has grown. My perception of Indonesia pre-departure was largely exotic and influenced through the media of tourism and wellness movements. Now Indonesia feels more and more like a mysterious and deeply-diverse part of the world. My current perception is only of the island of Java – speckled with stories and friends who come from other regions. I have also developed a routine, community and mental library of many foods, customs and places here.
The more places I go, the more connections I make and harder it is to let go of the opportunity to go back and visit again. There are many things that I have come to love and will surely miss. Namely, the squat toilet, I much prefer to the flushing and seated ones I was accustomed to in Canada. They are simple, efficient and hygienic – why use up so much water to flush when it goes down fine with a cup or two from the bucket? Secondly, heat. Sweet lord is it hot here for me though the consistency has been a nice and I feel I have really adapted to be able to dress and prepare for it. On the other hand, I appreciate it a little more from my experiences camping – when I have underestimated the cold, leading to wonderful conversation and comfort through self-made heat and kind-hearted company. I cannot forget to mention, nor walk the streets without seeing, some of the most inventive and admirable portable business’. The small kaki-limas (“feet-five” regarding their small dimensions) are homes to delicious foods, tireless and proud chefs who provide space and fuel for the public with foods, drinks, small stools and guaranteed company of fellow street-food lovers.
I set out to write about regret and have been avoiding it which is a good indication of the motivation to address it. I think there are many contributions to regret and why it settles and claws at the mind. Social media is a realm I wanted to touch on as here, though globally, it has not only risen in popularity but taken up space and time in the daily routine of many. Digital connection has benefits and drawbacks, for me it has allowed me to solidify contact with many people here, keep up with what friends and family are doing all around the world. While on the other hand, it gives the user an array of different experiences, opportunities and lives all in one, I have found that time, motives and intention often gets blurred in this realm and can lead to unrealistic perceptions of how people experience the world. Like the traffic here, social media is always buzzy, busy and chaotic – with many opinions, messages and moments flashing by. With reflection, I realise that, like moments articulated in the media, moment pass by so fast – as this internship has. For me, I feel that I should be making the most of my time and experience here in Jakarta and Indonesia, which prompts a need to take in as much as I can. Even though I am not living here ‘long-term’, I have gotten familiar with many things here. That said, there is always so much more to see and do! I have started to realise that soaking in my environment and time here is how to make most of the time, as doing everything would likely require the whole online community to complete. So lessons in recognition, gratitude and the individuality of adventure are a continuation of the multiplicity of lessons learned during this my stay in Indonesia.
Picturing a version of myself is easy, but seeing the progress from past to present is more difficult. Without recognition, growth can get lost beneath the hardship that produces it, making my efforts seem endless with little to no result. Lately being critical and concise with time has been a focus, and has left me wondering what I contributed to CIPS (Center for Indonesian Policy Studies), the communities I am in and to my relationships here. The reciprocation of energy expended is not always visible, though always present.
Originally I had written “building communities” above, though this is not what I have done. They say it takes a village and this can be applied to the concept of community. There is not a single person that builds a community, but a community is a collective that works to create, support and give home the individuals within it. Naiveté is both a strength and a weakness for me in this case. It has lead me to many conversations resulting in both introductions into beautiful communities, arbitrary messages from the go-jek drivers or unwanted invitations to lunch. Additionally, I would identify with the characteristic “awkward” which I feel it has become part of my charm. An intelligent former co-worker enlightened me with the purpose of “ice-breakers.” It is not that they are moments of deep inquisition, or act a bridges to human connection – they simply give participants a reason to relate over the odd feeling of interacting with strangers. It is funny how it can take a lack of sense of belonging in order to find it through and understanding and common experience. I have had the opportunity to take part in and engage with the community in Jakarta, which is diverse in itself. With ex-patriots on one hand, to the people living in the same kost, the family at CIPS or even hanging in the street warungs with neighbours. Recently, Maeve and I were luck to join the KAPPAL (Komunitas Pecinta Pencipta Alam & Lingkungan) community – joining them on a hike up Mt. Mandalawangi. Initially we were invited on the trip by friends that we had met before, though none of them could make it so it was an adventure with all new people – but thrilled to have gone. The organiser of the trip Debby, was more than kind giving us a place to stay the night before and coordinating the whole hike, with all the people who came – who were also great fun! I came back from the trip with a feeling of gratitude and camaraderie for those who were part of the trip. Additionally, I feel I have a warm-hearted connections in Bandung – and am thankful for the extension of relations and sense of home that I have felt from them.