When I returned to Jakarta from Canada, I just realized how polluted Jakarta’s air is. This condition has made me thinking twice about my morning routine of doing street running on daily basis. However, instead of discontinue my morning routine, I decided to run very early. Normally I do it at 4 a.m. It might sound crazy but that is the only time where I can breathe a little bit of fresh air in the city.
My new activity somehow has opened my eyes about the other side of life of Jakartan. At 4 a.m, there are still many young people hanging out in one of the most popular Jakarta public park Taman Suropati. Based on my observation, some of them are having a fun chat, some are having a serious discussion, some are singing or dancing and some are having a very very very late dinner or super super early breakfast. Meanwhile, the city janitors are getting ready to sweep the street and some street food vendors are cleaning up their cart, eating utensil and getting ready to go home.
At the first early days, I somehow notice how dirty Taman Suropati is. Many people just leave out plastic waste, tissue or paper at the park. They simply do not care to throw it a proper place. I must say that it is very upsetting to see Jakartans just throwing plastic waste in the park. It just made the park look dirty and ugly. Yet, I also notice that some scavengers actually take the advantage from the dirty environment whereby they can collect those garbage and turn it into some cash. Still, it does not mean that I agree that they do not throw the garbage to the bin. So, I decided to talk to one of them.
His name is Mr. Khodir. He is a 47 years old janitor, who works for Jakarta Provincial Government. His duty is to sweep the street along Sunda Kelapa Mosque area and the official residence of vice president in Menteng area. He works eight hours a day and starts at 5 a.m. Normally, he would finish his job by 5 pm with four hours of break in between.
As a janitor, he told me that he earns 2.7 million Rupiah. Unfortunately, he sometimes receives his salary once in three months whereby his salary will be piled up within three months. Although he receives a huge amount at the end, he simply cannot support his family properly because he does not have enough saving. As a result, he has to collect plastic waste and sell it. From that activity, he could generate money for approximately 50,000 Rupiah.
It is actually very saddening knowing the fact that while he believes that he has a steady job to support his family, this condition somehow has “forced” him to be a scavenger to make sure there is always an adequate food for his family on the table and provide a proper education for his children.
Life is hard in Jakarta. It might be just as hard as another’s life in big cities across the world. For ordinary yet uneducated people, some of them would prefer to work their ass off, earn small amount of money and stay away from the dirty jobs, meanwhile some would choose to engage in dirty activity to earn big buck simply to meet up with big city’s lifestyle. It is you choosing it for yourselves.
Let’s ask ourselves these questions. Do you put heavy make-up to cover your pimple or skin imperfection? Do you need to purchase brand-name products? Do you max out your credit card to purchase fancy things that you cannot afford it? Do you use a photo filter or photoshop before you upload your photo online? Do you work in a company only for a monthly pay-cheque? Do you cheat on your lover or partner and stay in a relationship even you are no longer happy? Do you know that all of those are the form of lie and there are just many more forms of lies out there?
Well, the individual is not the only liar in our society. The governments lie, the companies lie, the religious institutions lie, the politicians lie, the religious leaders lie, the public figures lie and almost all the citizens lie. Eventually, almost all of us are liars.
However, have you ever asked yourself why you need to lie? I believe that we begin to lie because our society often tells us that we are not good enough as individuals. They say “You are not good enough because of your skin colour”; “You are not good enough because of your ethnicity background”; “You are not good enough because of your weight”; “You are not good enough because of your job”. And you are just not good in so many ways.
Their judgment makes us feeling insecure; their judgment makes us to not accept yourself, and their judgment makes us feel to have the need to fulfil their demand/ requirements. The worse, their judgment makes you stop loving yourself unconditionally. Ultimately, you have the need to lie. We do it consciously or unconsciously, to other people as well as to ourselves. As a result, we become liars.
We do not know anymore whether we need to keep our mouth shut and tell the truth or we just need to lie. In the end, lying seems to be much easier than being honest and truthful; being perfect seems to be more acceptable than being imperfect and that is what our society wants from us… to be perfect! Hence, we lie. Correct me if I was wrong!
The reason why people like to talking bad about other people or gossiping because that’s the only way to put themselves in the conversation and other’s people mind. While they usually would not be in anybody’s mind. They realise that they are nobody, living nobody’s life and they want to be noticed. So…. anything that ‘nobody’ can say to put themselves in mind or on the mouth of somebody, that is what they are going to do and continue to do. Right?
Sometimes we want to help someone, who is going astray because we know that (s)he is actually a good person inside. But I realize that we cannot help somebody who actually doesn’t want to help themselves . Or they even don’t think that they might need help from anyone. Should we bother to give a hand?
Few years ago, I was introduced to courchsurfing.org by a friend of mine, a blogger from multiply.com (I was still active blogging with multiply.com platform back then, too bad that it has been shut down now because I love that platform so much as I have been blogging with that platform since 2005 : ( ). I found that couchsurfing.org was interesting because I could meet many different kind of people with different kind of stories such as where they have been to, how they saved money for traveling, how much money they spent in certain country, where to stay, listen to their point of view about other cultures, etc. I would say that it is fun.
So in 2009, I decided to sign up and create a profile in couchsurfing.org to get new friends and meet new people from all over the world. Unfortunately, I was not particularly that active because I started my job in Jakarta and did not really have time for myself. My work and the Jakarta traffic made me lazy to attend some gatherings because I was too tired
However luckily, I had the opportunity to meet number of amazing people and young travelers, which opened my eyes about life. I met four European girls, who studied in Singapore in 2010; a 21 Australian boy who has been traveling to 70 countries after he managed to save for two or three years since he was 16 (he didn’t go to senior high school if I was not mistaken); an Italian photographer who stayed in hundreds of couch while he was traveling and many more. Most of them have great story and are very down to earth.
I was amazed but jealous at the same time with their ability to travel around the world. So why am I jealous? It is not because of their financial flexibility but Indonesian citizen doesn’t really have an easy access visiting a country, especially European, American and also Australian country.
We have to apply for tourist visa, complete a bunch of document, pay a lot of money for the visa with the possibility of losing it if we were rejected. While most of Westerner (Lucky you people!) have the privilege to come and go visiting the developing country very easy such Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. Right?!
I actually have a hell lot of things to complain about but I will leave it there because I know that I am luckier than them, who comes from third world country or African country. I am grateful with what I got.
But anyway…. so here I was being profiled by an Italian couchsurfer in La Republica, an Italian newspaper on August 2010. I think I will activate my couchsurfing profile again to find a new activity in 2014.
Wait…. that’s what I just discovered! Whether were I really unable to deal with the current life situation well or was it just my negative mindset?
Well let me tell you something, I always said to myself that I must always remove my negative thinking when I have/want/need to do something. No matter how difficult my task is… I MUST NOT say that I CANNOT. Instead I MUST say that I CAN. If I have belief in myself that I can do it, surely I will be able to finish any task, which is given to me. Why did I say that?
Few years ago when I was working for an english newspaper, I was asked to write four stories. It was 2 p.m and the deadline was at 7 p.m. I could not say NO and I would not say No. Instead I said yes. I said to myself that I CAN finish it and I WILL finish it. Even though I didn’t meet the deadline on time, I was able to finish and submit all the stories. I was relieved. I was happy knowing that I had the ability to do it.
Somehow when I worked on those article, I felt no burden at all. Instead I was enjoying it. But here was the key, I believed that I would not do anything properly without God’s help. (I know I might sound so religious but that’s what I believe : ). I believe in God’s grace).
So as I reflected into my current life’s situation and how I dealt with it, I just felt that the negativity has corrupted my life. It was just a constant complaint. I always said to myself how unhappy I am, how stressful my life is, how difficult my life is, how hard my life is, etc etc etc. Yes perhaps I am unhappy with the current situation but shouldn’t I just consider it as a test from God?
Well I often said to myself that this difficult life would be just temporary, it wouldn’t stay forever as what Saint Paul said There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)”
And again Jesus also said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
So why couldn’t I deal with my current life situation well? I think it is because I was surrounded by people with negative thinking and somehow it effected to me. No I did not mean to blame anyone here. But now I learnt whenever all those negative opinion comes closer to me, it is better for me to walk away or close my ears to ignore it.
It all comes down to our mindset. If we have a positive mindset, we would deal with difficulty positively, led us to positive attitude and finally we would not feel that we carry a heavy burden. But if we have a negative mindset, we would deal with difficulty with negative attitude, give us frustration and and life getting hard for us everyday.
I am glad that I have been introduced to God since I was child through Catholic belief. Even though there was a stage of life when I did not want to be tied to any religion but still believed in God, I just found that religious value has taught me something which gives me peace of mind.
Instead of running to alcohol or nicotine when I got upset (I used to drink a lot but was not an alcoholic, just a cocktail lover. And I knew I smoked few days ago but I rarely did it), I just picked my bible and read it. It might not give me a solution right away but it gives me peace of mind. And that’s all I need.
For me, life is about constant reflection. Perhaps some people might think that I am drama queen or melancholic bitch whenever I share my problem or point of view of life in my blog but I don’t really care anyway. This is how the way I live my life.
And I just realized that God actually has answered my prayers. Even though it was not a jackpot but God has provided a lot of good things to me during this trial of life. It might not be the best but God always provided for us.
Sometimes we just have to appreciate the small stuff because we are blessed more than we realize. I just believed that God would answer my prayers in His own time in His own way.
Have a blessed Sunday readers!