Happiness is the smell of rich earth and dew clad grass after a showery night; pink petals fluttering beneath a startling blue Kyoto sky; how my cat snuggles into my lap as it rains outside; the wind grazing my skin and the morning sun nuzzling my face; the taste of salty ocean breeze and the waves lapping at my sand-sunken toes; the soft dongs and tinkles of gamelan at a family’s wedding; harmonizing with the choir as we sing traditional Indonesian songs during the weekly flag ceremony at school. Happiness is the beauty of nature and music.
To be a traveler is to follow in the footsteps of our nomadic ancestors—each new terrain uncertain but brimming with undiscovered possibilities. It is to be a rolling stone, constantly changing yourself to suit the environment around you, nature, circumstance and chance. Never is it the other way around—the way sedentary metropolitans build skyscrapers, burn forests for farming, and pollute the skies to suit them. Why do they not realize that it will cause a domino effect?
As with most things I know of, the situation is neither good nor bad. It is simply a constant stream of experience, upon which we row-row-row upon our boats of consciousness towards the next dream-like adventure.
However, having myself traveled from one continent to another—in both cases to live there, not just to tour—I’ve learned a thing or two about the ways of the world. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not implying that I’m a wise sage or anything, simply a girl who knows what it’s like to pack up your suitcases and brace yourself for a new world with bizarrely different creatures, cultures, and conducts.
I grew up in two places. My mind and heart didn’t have preferences. It was a constant tug-o’-war between one country and the other—one which would often leave me puzzled and distraught during those years that they coin “puberty”. It wasn’t only the dichotomy between the two countries that left me so—one being a first-world nation, awed by the world, the other hectic and developing—but also the “big” thoughts, such as pondering the nature of life and the uncertainty of ever meeting my childhood friends again. But also, the Great Perhaps of it.
Scrolling through pictures on social media, you notice smiles and warm sunny days—the stars of said pictures being friends you once knew. I know of the wistfulness aching your heart. I know how it felt to turn glass-eyed at the airport, meeting relatives for the first time in six years. Only to cry yet again because you realized how different they were from you, how alien, because you were only a toddler then, and now a misshaped preteen.
However, to be a traveler is to have a novel view of life. It is to realize that you will never truly fit in, because you came from another place—while other people stayed in place. It is to develop a stoic attitude towards life, because, try as you might, you can never return to the past.
To be a traveler is to gain valuable experiences. With those experiences, you learn to understand the world. You learn about human beings—what brings us together, what we all have in common. You learn how to connect the dots of life, seemingly arbitrary at first. You learn that cherishing family moments is important, because they’re the people who will never leave you, while others come and go.
In the process, you might cry (for joy, for sadness); or you might laugh because you’ve finally found humor in it all. You might just become a better person—more compassionate, more thoughtful and understanding, albeit more sensitive. And in the end it’s all okay, because you’ve learned things that you otherwise wouldn’t have learned.
Ever since Sunday, 21st May 2017, there’s only been one thought clawing at the back of my mind. My performance during the AFS interview. I know it’s a silly thing to think about.
“Move on! Get it done and forget it.” — everyone, literally.
But, I’m not the type who moves on so easily. So, in this post, I will be mainstream and cliche and talk about my experience thus far in the AFS selection process, like so many other bloggers have done. ^^
And for those of you who are reading this in preparation of your own AFS selection test, then good luck! May the odds be ever in your favor. 😉
Hi internet explorers!
This is a little bit late, but today I’d like to write about 2017 and the daunting, exciting 361 days left we have ahead of us… before the year changes again, I mean.
A friend of mine says that we shouldn’t really celebrate the new year, because our new year is the Islamic one. By we she means Muslims, gang. While she may have a point, that’s a little bit extreme, isn’t it? It’s not as if I was getting drunk and partying only because it’s a new year. Instead, I believe it’s the perfect time to reflect on what you’ve done so far in your life. And what you plan to achieve this year.
Some people feel like the New Year is pressured with social obligations. Mustn’t we go out and make the most of the new year with our friends or family, or kiss that person beneath the fireworks? But it’s just another day. The only difference is, we’re restarting the cycle. It’s been ingrained into our minds to live life in cycles. That’s why we have rituals, festivals, birthdays. It’s a renewal of the soul, in a sort. You can read more about this in Myth and Reality.
Anyways, you might be wondering. Why did I put a picture of cherry blossoms up there and not fireworks or something? The most honest answer would be because I think it looks nice *cough* I took the photo *cough cough* . But, I could formulate two other answers for you. First, because it reminds me of the trip I took to Japan with my family at the beginning of 2016. We move through time in moments. The best moments are fleeting. So we record them in pictures, journals, and blogs. We’re obsessed with memories, aren’t we? And when you need to move on from something or someone, sometimes there’s still a nagging at your brain as you remember… and remember… Is that why it hurts sometimes to be human? Because we’re so preoccupied with memories we let them devour us, let ourselves obsess over them. Until we’re weak and crumpled on the ground, heavy with memories.
Wait, wait. How did I get so sidetracked?
Whales, let’s move on. The second reason I’m making off the top of my head. It’s because flowers symbolize cycles, don’t they? Withered, they fall to the ground, where their seeds scatter. And before you know it, they’re shooting out buds and growing into tall, lovely trees. In turn, more flowers fall, carrying seeds- regenerations.
So, that’s what the new year means to me. How about you?
NOT IMPORTANT THINGS
This year I have three resolutions:
- Study hard & passionately. Get all-A’s. (okay, okay. You might think of me as a nerd or whatever, but this is very important, people! Try asking anyone, “Do grades matter?” “Well no they don’t, young lad. Go out and be a stripper!”)
- Get out of my comfort zone and have a new experience.
- Be happy so that everyone around me is happy 🙂
- Showing the person your secret thinking spot
- A song by you
- Dinner/lunch/breakfast cooked by you
- Home-baked brownies, cake, ice cream, milkshake, etc. – made by you, of course
- A book you wrote!
- Movie night
- An old heirloom(this is very romantic, but make sure it is actually of worth and that you won’t get into any trouble by giving it away)
- A drawing/painting that you created 🙂
- A photo album filled with you and that person’s memories
- A scrapbook/book of memories
- A collection of inside jokes, (or quotes or song lyrics that are special to you both)
- A sweater/any article of clothing(if you can, you know, knit)
- Teaching something(like how to make origami cranes)
- A book someone else wrote!
- A box of memories (I’ve done this one before. I made the box using a shoe box which I covered with old book pages. Inside I put little things that were special to both of us) 🙂
- Something you invented
- Knowledge – there is no greater gift than knowledge
- A garden
The point is that the best gifts are the ones which you create wholeheartedly with your own hands. You can also give a gift by sharing something special to you.
A while ago, I was trying my luck in applying for Phillips Exeter Academy. Yep. That extremely selective private boarding school. The school of Mark Zuckerberg and Dan Brown. That school. I don’t know what I was thinking. But, everything’s worth a try right? Heh.
Anyways, now that it’s all over and done with I decided to share one of the essays I wrote for that school. I don’t know if you’ll like it, but maybe you’ll agree. 🙂
Write a topic or activity about which you are passionate.
I have always loved words and telling stories. Through stories, you can open up gates to a world both so fascinating and awe-inspiring it cannot be much expressed through words. For years, people have always found magic in folktales and legends. Martin Luther King fought against discrimination using words, not force. Princess R.A. Kartini of Indonesia changed the minds of Indonesian women through her writing. Anne Frank gave us a deeper understanding of her struggle during World War I, which we would not have acquired had it not been for her diary. Writing is a vital part of life, just as much as eating and breathing are. Writing gives us documentation, in phenomenal ways that no technology can replace. Even human history was marked by the point when we began to record things in writing.
Writing has always been a big part of my life. In the corner of my room, I have a stack of dusty journals to prove it. Soggy as they might be from the rain that once leaked in, I like to leaf through them and see how much has changed. In the third grade, I wrote a novel titled Two Lives in One Girl, which was originally only a handwritten story in a journal. When I finished that book, and the one I wrote with my friend titled Heart of the Willow, I felt like I was on top of the world. I know that seems like such a simple thing to be proud of, but it turns out that writing a novel is hard work. It takes sweat and determination. Writing has different meanings for everyone, but anyone can agree that even though it is a grueling process it produces fruits that are so sweet to harvest.
I believe there is power in words. Words are important. With them, you can inspire, motivate, and change the world. That is why writing is my greatest passion. I find it amazing how you can express yourself and pour out your heart through written form, and even inspire others with it. I never want to stop writing. Someday, I want to change the world with this beautiful craft, the way my favorite authors Markus Zusak, J.K. Rowling, Madeline L’engle, Princess R.A. Kartini, Anne Frank, Jostein Gaarder, and so many other great authors have changed my world.
And yet, in the end, the kids of 7B would still erupt into a frantic craze of yelling and play. I wonder if we would ever learn to be quiet and disciplined and motivated. The way the teachers want it. Sometimes when it rains, the classroom would turn dark. Combined with the sound of the powerful torrents outside and the howling wind rattling at the windows, the room became something like a clown’s version of a haunted house. The chatter was like that of monkeys rampaging through forest canopies. A parade of shouting and chaos. It was a jungle. Meanwhile, the teacher sat at the front of the class, waiting patiently for the class to quiet down, fanning herself to keep cool in this wretchedly hot room.