This book started with a lunch with my dear friend dr. Sonia Wibisono, and her friend Cindy, who is a meditation expert. Along the way we met Julie, a writer and personal branding coach. Sonia then invited drg. Annisa, a media personality, and Ms Vriti, an early childhood specialist, to join us. The book shares our journeys to discover ourselves. We share different stories – of bullying, of losing their parents to death or divorce, of being overworked and neglecting one’s selves, and of finding how self-love is a responsibility, especially for parents – just like we have to put on our own oxygen mask before we can help anyone else on the airplane, even our children. The book highlights the importance of caring for our own wellbeing, especially as women are often cast in the role of caring for others first. The book also provides exercises for readers to find their own path to self-love.
Sepasang burung alap-alap Bercengkerama di puncak menara Menikmati udara segar sedikit saja Oasis di jantung kota Sang betina dari tadi bertengger di jendela Membawa hasil tangkapannya Memanggil dengan lantang Ayo makan malam bersama Sang pejantan datang membawa cerita Tawa anak-anak yang lulus pelajaran jarak jauh Diwisuda di depan layar masing-masing Bermain bola di jalanan kosong Masa depan terbuka lebar Penuh tanda tanya
Di cakrawala Gedung Pramuka, Pertamina, hingga Taman anggrek di ujung barat Gunung Salak di selatan Gedung pos, Mangga dua, dan apartemen-apartemen di atas reklamasi Pantai Utara Tak tampak Kota Tua Atau VOC Galangan yang sempat jadi restoran Saksi berlayarnya bahtera pernikahanku Mengarungi dunia, lalu kembali Ke ujung jalan tempat kelahiranku
Di sisi timur, di balik menara Terminal Senen tak seriuh rendah dulu Stasiun tak dipadati pemudik yang kembali Berbagi penyakit dengan sanak saudara dan rekan seperjalanan
Di tengah-tengah Monas bercahaya warna-warni Meski andong dan kaki lima Tak lagi menghiasi pelatarannya
Di sebelahnya Patung pembebasan Irian Barat Berdiri sendirian di Lapangan Banteng Bebas dari siapa? Jakarta? Air mancur tak lagi menari di kakinya Nun jauh di sana Cendrawasih berkicau sesuka hati Di belantara antara bukit-bukit emas galian
Persis di depan Gedung kementerian keuangan terawat rapi PNS kerja dari rumah Mencari harta karun dalam data ber terra-terra banyaknya Memastikan roda terus berputar Agar tak ada perut lapar Bapak-bapak tua yang tidur dalam gerobak, di samping Kalilio, di depan gerbang Nggak punya alamat, nggak ngurus KTP, nggak ngerti KJS, nggak mudeng BPJS, ogah suntik vaksin apaan Mengumpulkan masker-masker dari tempat sampah Biar jadi duit Tak ada yang berterima kasih padanya Menyelamatkan laut seribu pulau Dari plastik dan sampah yang mematikan terumbu karang Ia tidak tahu Indonesia negara menengah kaya Mematri tempat di dunia
Di pojok rumah sakit angkatan darat Stovia sempat menggelar kelas-kelas Anak-anak dan para ibu belajar menari Mengenal budaya tak ada habisnya Menanti pintu-pintu terbuka kembali Apa yang akan terlahir dari bangsa ini
Istiqlal tahun ini sepi Sholat Ied di rumah Masuk Katedral dihitung, dibatasi Sakramen maha kudus dinyanyikan dalam hati masing-masing Aku berdoa bagi Jakarta Juga Haji Saidi dan Hajah Halimah Saeran Yang tinggal nama jalan Sebelum kami pindah ke sana Anak cucu di pinggiran Tergeser kota yang doyan makan Obesitas, makan tempat hingga tak muat
Aku berdoa bagi kita, bagi dunia Untuk hidup yang mati-matian dipertahankan Di ICU yang tertutup rapat Teman sejawat jadi astronot Sementara aku merawat jiwa-jiwa kesepian
Hampir empat puluh tahun yang lalu Di belakang planetarium Tempat para seniman berjaya Seorang penyair berkata “Nanti kalau semua habis Tinggal gema suara kami melayang di angkasa Jakarta akan jadi nama burung, Nama bunga, nama persahabatan dan kesetiaan Nama keberanian menerima dan mencintai” * Jari-jemari kecilku waktu itu berjuang Melepaskan merpati-merpati Dari penantiannya Sementara wajah teater tertutup Mendadak terbuka ke panggung dan stadion bertingkat di baliknya Lepas ke angkasa Jadi mangsa falkon yang sibuk bercinta di langit Jakarta
Selamat ulang tahun Jakarta Selamat ulang tahun kampung halamanku Seperti Amerika punya Patung Liberty Lambang harapan kebebasan kemakmuran Jakarta milik Indonesia Punya kita, anak-anaknya Harapan hidup di bumi Dan kelak hidup abadi
Apartemen Mitra Oasis Sarana lantai 14, 9 Juni 2021 (dalam rangka Ulang Tahun Jakarta ke-494, 22 Juni 2021)
Kutipan dari puisi Eka Budianta “Jakarta Chris, Jakarta” Stasi XXV, dari buku Rumahku Dunia hal.140, dengan pembacaan puisi di Taman Ismail Marzuki, Teater Tertutup, 1984
May 1998 was a period of political turbulence that marked the fall of “the New Order” – a regime that itself had arisen following the mass killings of 1965.
Riots broke out in major cities across Indonesia, most severely in the capital, Jakarta. The riots were well organized, moving from one place to another, usually starting with burning tires on the streets – strong smelling smoke signals to gather the crowd and ignite the looting and destruction along its path.
These were what I wrote back then, with what I knew and thought at the time. It was originally written in Bahasa Indonesia – I will translate it for you per paragraph.
13 May 1998:
Terdengar tawa bapak-bapak yang sedang siskamling, membuang kantuk dan tegang. Tapi malam merayap seperti “para penjarah” kata radio. Bukankah mereka kita juga? Seperti kaki yang menendang-nendang tangan karena selama ini terus-menerus dinomorduakan. Sedih. “Para perusuh”. Kenapa bukan saudara kita yang sedang marah?
I could hear the laughter men who were on patrol, as they tried to rid themselves of sleepiness and tension. But the night crawled like “the lotters” as the radio called them. Aren’t they one of us too? It feels like my leg that is kicking my arm for getting all the attention. It is sad. “The rioters”. Why don’t they call them our angry brothers?
Para ibu menunggu di rumah, mendengarkan radio, mencoba menenangkan diri dan anak-anaknya. Atau membuat paper, seperti ibuku.
The women are waiting at home, listening to the radio, trying to calm themselves and their children. Or writing a paper, like my mom.
Bunyi pesawat melintas rendah. Di benakku bom berjatuhan. Seperti perang betulan. Bukankah ini perang betulan? Bukan, ini cuma kerusuhan, katanya. Sama saja. Paling tidak orang tidak sengaja saling membunuh. Belum.
I can hear the sound of a plane flying low. In my mind, bombs were falling. It feels like war. Isn’t this war? No, this is only a mass riot, they say. Same difference. At least people are not intentionally killing each other. Not yet.
Para bapak bersorak lagi. Lagu “Ben” mengajak mata menutup dan tubuh merebah. Tapi otak berdengung keras.
The men are roaring again. The song “Ben” is lulling my eyes to shut and my body to lie down. But my brain is buzzing.
Katanya keluarga presiden sudah di Amerika. Lari. Kabur. Seperti Edi Tansil, kambing hitam favorit kita semua. Mudah untuk menyalahkan mereka. Sebab mereka kaya. Mereka bahagia. Apa iya? Bukankah semua orang kaya bahagia? Bisa hijrah ke luar negeri ketika terjadi kerusuhan, tidak seperti kalangan bawah dan menengah, seperti kita? Mahasiswa itu lalu membuang sekenanya gelas air minum plastik yang dibagikan bebas biaya pada demonstran hari itu. Di aspal. Lalu diinjak. Dan ditinggal. Kali ini tidak ada lagi yang memungutnya. Sebab hari ini orangnya sibuk meminta bagian dari kebahagiaan. Dalam bentuk kasur, atau susu bubuk, dari Makro atau Goro.
They say the president’s family are in the US by now. They ran off. Escaped. Like Edi Tansil, our favorite scapegoat (corruptor). It is easy to blame them, because they are rich. They are happy. Are they really? Aren’t all rich people happy? They can fly abroad when there is a riot, not like the lower and middle class, like us? The university student nonchalantly throws the plastic cup from the mineral water that were distributed freely to the demonstrators that day. He throws it on the asphalt, steps on it, and leaves it there. This time, no one is picking it up. Because today, everyone is busy asking for a bite of happiness, in the form of a mattress, powdered milk, from Makro or Goro (that was what was being looted from these bulk grocers).
Dalam benakku terbayang:
“Aaah. Ternyata tidur di atas kasur begini rasanya. Sudah lama aku melihat kasur-kasur busa dan per – “spring bed” katanya – di mal-mal. Sudah lama ingin mencobanya. Apakah benar tidur di atasnya lebih nyenyak?
Kini mal itu sudah tidak ada. Tinggal kerangka hangus dan tawa penonton. Aku untung dapat kasur. Seperti mimpi di awan. Susah payah aku menggotongnya. Gangku terlalu sempit. Dan ternyata kasur ini tidak muat di rumahku. Kasur ini lebih besar dari rumahku. Terpaksa dipotong sebagian. Akhirnya bisa masuk. Tapi rumahku melulu kasur. Bukan hanya melulu bau. Sembilan anakku terlelap. Sepertinya sama lelapnya dengan di atas dipan bambu yang dulu. Malah aku yang tak bisa tidur.”
In my mind I imagine a looter thinking, “Aaah, so this is how it feels to sleep on a mattress. I have seen these foam and spring – spring beds they call them, in the malls. I have wanted to try them for so long. Do we really sleep more soundly on top of them?
Now the mall is gone. The only thing that is left of it is its charred skeleton and the laughter of naysayers. I am lucky to get the mattress. I get to dream upon the clouds. It was hard work to carry it. The alley was too small. And the mattress does not even fit inside my house. It is bigger than my house. So I had to cut a part of it for it to fit inside. But my house is all mattress now. Not just all smelly. My nine children are asleep. They seem just as sound asleep as they were on our old bamboo divan. Now I’m the one who can’t sleep.”
Bukankah hanya barang yang dirusak? Atau diambil, atau dibakar? Barang yang selama ini ditumpuk-tumpuk untuk menutupi insecurity? Sumur tanpa dasar tak bisa diisi, berapapun barang yang kau timbun. Tapi barang-barang ini hasil jerih payah kami. Jadi, hanya untuk itukah kamu bekerja? Hanya demi harta yang fana? Sudahkah dirimu bertumbuh dan berkembang, wangi di kaki langit? Sudahkah kau sentuh sesamamu, kau tanam cinta di negerimu? Telingaku berdengung.
Aren’t these things that are being smashed, taken, or burnt just that – things? Things that have been stashed to cover insecurity, like a bottomless pit that could never be filled no matter how much we try to fill it? But we worked hard to afford these things. Is that why you work? For things that won’t last? Have you grown and blossomed, sweet-smelling at the foot of the earth? Have you touched a fellow human being, have you planted love in your nation? Now my ears are buzzing.
Sebelum api membakarmu, rasanya dia masih terlalu jauh untuk menyakitimu. Sekalipun panasnya sudah terasa. Jari-jari yang beku tak dapat merasakan apa-apa.
Before the fire burns us, it feels too far to harm us, even if we can feel its heat. If our fingers are frozen, we cannot even feel anything.
14 May 1998:
Aku baru saja menyalakan radio Sonora. Orang-orang berhamburan keluar Jakarta. Padahal bertahun-tahun orang berbondong-bondong menuju ibukota. Manusia memang ingin untung. Manusia memang pengecut.
I just turned on the radio to listen to the channel Sonora. People were on mass exodus from Jakarta. For years people had been flocking to this capital city. Humans look for profit. Humans are fickle that way.
Massa. Siapakah dia? Bukankah dia aku, dan kamu, dan kita? Aku tidak menjarah. Aku tidak membakar. Aku tidak korupsi. Aku tidak berhutang ke luar negeri. Aku tidak menyebabkan krisis moneter. Jadi ini semua akibat kamu! Padahal siapakah kamu, bila semua orang adalah aku?
The masses – who are they? Aren’t they me, you, us? “I” am not looting. “I” am not burning buildings. “I” am not corrupt. “I” have no foreign debt. “I” didn’t cause the monetary crisis. So it’s all “your” fault! But who are “you”, if everyone calls themselves “me”.
Apa gunanya aku menulis, bila sebentar lagi rumah ini dibakar, bersama semua karyaku yang lain yang entah di mana? Yang belum jadi, yang baru separuh menongolkan kepalanya dari liang senggama ibunya. Haruskah ikut mati?
What is the use of me writing, if soon this house will be on fire, with all of my other works wherever they are? The ones that are not done, half-way through the birth canal – should they die too?
Terdengar taktik keyboard komputer diajak marathon oleh Ibu.
I could hear the clickety-clack of the computer keyboard as Mom takes it on a marathon.
My diary continues: 15 May 1998
Tanggal 15 dini hari. Tepat 3 hari setelah para mahasiswa itu diberondong dengan senapan api. Sekalipun belum 72 jam, akhir-akhir ini waktu seperti mimpi buruk yang tak sudi mendatangkan pagi. Bayang-bayang anarki terus menggembung, menggerogoti dan membakar semua benda dan manusia yang berusaha menghalanginya.
It is the dawn of the 15th. Three days after the university students were showered with gunfire. Even though it hasn’t been 72 hours, lately time is like a nightmare that refuses to welcome the morning. Anarchy casts a bigger and bigger shadow, eating and burning every object and person that gets in its way.
Sektor tiga sudah dijarah. Temanku barusan telpon. Lalu aku telpon pamanku, sesuai anjurannya. Menyebarkan panik. Seperti biasa. Adikku bilang, “Bersiap-siap untuk apa? Berdoa, bersiap-siap untuk mati?” Tanyanya. “Ya, kencinglah dulu, daripada kamu terkencing-kencing di jalan,” sahutku. Asap tampak dari depan rumah. Hitam. Lebih hitam daripada malam. Begitu dekat, aku hampir bisa menyentuhnya. Namun bukankah bintang juga begitu?
Sector three of my area has been looted. My friend just called. Then I called my uncle, as she suggested. To spread panic. Like usual. My brother asks, “What are we supposed to be ready for? Pray, to prepare to die?” He asks. “Yeah, better go to the toilet, rather than wet yourself on the way,” I answered. We can see smoke from in front of our house. Black, darker than the night. It was so close, I could almost touch it. But aren’t the stars just like that?
As I look back from today:
Little did I know.
Saat itu, aku belum tahu bahwa tidak ada tawa penonton. Yang ada isak tangis ayah ibu yang mencari anak-anak mereka, yang remaja dan yang masih ingusan, yang dijebak di dalam mal dan dibakar hidup-hidup. Masihkah terdengar jeritan mereka?
At that time, I did not know that no one was laughing. Instead, there was the wailing of parents looking for their children, teenagers and children with runny noses, trapped in the mall and burnt alive. Can people still hear their cry?
Tak jauh di seberang mal itu, temanku kehilangan semua buku, semua baju, tempat tinggal dan rumah makan sumber penghasilan baginya, ibu dan adiknya. Ayahnya sudah lama meninggalkan mereka untuk hidup bersama keluarga barunya. Temanku harus lompat ke belakang untuk menyelamatkan diri dari para laki-laki tegap klimis bermata merah yang membumihanguskan semua hal yang pemiliknya bermata sipit.
Not far across from that very mall, my friend lost all her books, clothes and belongings, along with her home and the small eatery that was once the livelihood for her, her mother, and her brother. Her father has long left them to live with his new family. My friend had to jump over her back fence to save herself from the sturdy crew cut men with red eyes who burnt everything that was owned by “slit-eyes” to the ground.
Ternyata bukan hanya bangunan dan barang yang hancur. Juga nyawa. Harga diri. Harapan. Kehidupan.
It turned out that it wasn’t just buildings and objects that were demolished. Lives were lost, along with self-worth, hope, existence.
I was a medical student at the time. There had been a series of student protests. Initially, we, medical students, were adamant to keep studying, except once in a while when some of us would help out as medical support teams for student protestors from other faculties. Then one day the dean called us and said that we need to get in on the action.
One of our lecturers shared the story of taking part in the student protests that had toppled the “Old Order” in 1966. They were in front of the presidential bodyguard unit when guns were suddenly fired. They immediately got down, except for his friend, a fourth year medical student who turned around to run away. When the others stood back up, this student remained on the ground. His death was oil to the flame. His name is memorialized as the big mosque on the side of our campus.
Four students from a private university got shot this time, in what they call the “Trisakti Tragedy”.
We were organized to protest in front of our photogenic heritage hall. I noticed a man taking notes among us. He looked too old to be a student, too intent to be a curious passerby, and too rigid to be a journalist. He disappeared among the crowd before it rained on us. We stayed there long enough to look like we wanted to be there, with our headbands and signs.
The loss mobilized more students, who then spent days “sitting upon” the parliament – literally sitting on the roof of the building. My mother basically said, “We should keep safe at home. Only one of us can go there (and that would be me),” arguing that it was safest for her to represent us. She was supporting “Suara Ibu Peduli” activists.
I can’t remember whether it was later in November that year, during Semanggi Tragedy, but I ended up bringing medical supplies to Atma Jaya, helping students wash their eyes from tear gas. I marveled at the food peddlers calmly waiting on top of the bridge throughout the ordeal. Our driver kept the red cross sign we placed on the hood of the car.
Then somehow, life continued. Changes happened, but for many, things generally became “normal” again. While for others, life will never be the same.
Right now in the midst of the pandemic, there is a similar eerie feeling. Will we be reborn?
After the 1998 tragedy, Indonesia became a new country, a real democracy, or so they say. Will the pandemic change the world to learn what it means to be healthy, to take care of life, to protect ourselves and each other? If only it doesn’t have to cost so many lives to wake humankind to themselves…
What we all need is a little bit of stardust to spark the fire within and propel us to our dream.
What ignites you, gets you moving, delights you until your eyes twinkle?
What song sings in the depths of your soul waiting to be liberated in a burst of creativity?
Every time I feel life waning, I am awakened to the love of words, playing like children in my heart. I am reminded that I am a messenger on a quest. I pick up the pen like a fiddle recalling the familiar tune of a distant lullaby. The sounds and strokes create meaning like magic, reminding us of who we are once again.
We are all made of stardust, and to the stars one day we shall return. In the meantime we have life, with all its splendor and pain. We are all vulnerable, and we are all amazing.
Sometimes what it takes to get it going is reaching out to connect. Sometimes what it takes is a moment of silence.
Sometimes it is looking across to the dancing leaves in the distance. Sometimes we need to wait. I am with you in those treacherous moments. I come with faith – and just a little bit of stardust to share.
Being me makes me happy. Happiness is my natural state of being. Love makes me happy. I am one with God when I am filled with love.
My body is a temple, a divine gift to be nurtured, a vehicle for beautiful life experiences. To love life is to take good care of the body and to be mindful of our lives every step of the way. I live a healthy life to fulfill my purpose to be the best of myself for myself and others.
I enjoy adventures in the world. My true adventure in life is the journey to be myself. My quest is to learn. It is a journey within me, into the world, and in a relation to what is beyond. It is spiritual and practical at the same time. Learning is who I am. My journey of self-discovery leads me to venture towards the unknown.
I am growing, and as I grow, I help others grow. I share my journey and what I learn along the way. I appreciate others. I share my joy and happiness with others. Sharing my happiness makes me happy. Listening to the sharing of others’ life journey and struggles is an honor that I cherish.
I give love to live a life of love; this is my vision for humanity.
God brings special people into my life. They are gifts to me as I am to them. My loved ones are the other pieces in my life’s puzzle. My family is important to me. Good friends make me a better person. Belonging to a community gives me roots. Spending time to grow together makes this world a better place.
I live a life of purpose. By being fully who I am, I help others be fully who they are. We complement each other in a special way. We fulfill each other’s destiny. Living a life of love fully makes the world a better place.
Our love is a testament to God’s grace and glorious embrace. Our children are a testament of our love. Being a parent is a the greatest honor and the most important task in our lives. Being a parent teaches me to be the best person I can be and what it fully means to love. I am taking part in the continuous process of creation.
My true wealth is within me – it is my love, my love for humanity and my faith in every person, every moment, every part of the earth, the great beyond. I am here to share my love and the world appreciates me for it. Helping people feel true joy is my greatest joy. Our sharing creates a flow of wealth for all to enjoy.
I am living a life of ultimate abundance. Life gives me everything I could ever want – simple and present: the people I love, the beauty of the earth, the life we cherish together.
I do what I love which I do best. I help others and touch them by being me. I convey my love and the goodness of life through my work.
I am here to live my life in fullness.
I am creating myself in faithfulness to the ultimate mystery beyond my imagination. I am mindful to live a life of balance, mastery, and beauty in an evolving time and space as a part of life on earth.
This website is for you. It is my way of welcoming you, of saying hello, and of sharing my insights and stories.
Let me introduce myself. I am Citra – that is what I am called. The name “Citraningtyas” means image in the heart – of the man and woman who gave me my name. It is an image of love that brought me to life.
In these pages I write about life, about humanity, through my experiences, insights, wonderment and struggles.
I write to share my vision of humanity, where each person can be the best of themselves. The more each of us can be who we are meant to be, the more we can share our gifts with others.
Where can I learn about life to write about? My love of life brought me to become a doctor. Where else can I be with people in the most important moments of their lives from birth to death?
My love of the human being made me a psychiatrist. What does it mean to be human? It is our soul, the mind, how we feel and think, what we do. Our psyche. Our being.
In my being, I delight to be in a learning environment with others who also seek to learn and grow, at university and beyond.
So who are you, what do you do, what makes you feel most passionate and alive? What brought you to this website? Were you meant to arrive on this page, to connect with this vision and mission for humanity?
If I look at my life, I see moments, like a string of pearls gleaming in the light. Memorable moments – not just big events like weddings, births, travels or transitions, but also small moments in my day-to-day life, when I really felt, ‘This is life.’
I remember lying on our family bed as my husband and baby slept next to me. I remember doing the laundry while caring for my baby. I remember going to the library with my two sons. I remember being a child myself, playing at childcare and at school. I remember being a grad student, eating lunch on the lawn with friends. I remember my rides to school when my father taught me to know the trees. I remember the times in parks, by the lake, under the trees. I remember looking at the sunlight through my window, watching the dust dance in the light. I remember the warmth of my husband’s embrace. I remember smiles and laughter. I remember playing cards as a family of four, as well as with my aunts, uncles and cousins. I remember sitting on my bed writing, typing on my favorite wooden table…
Which moments come alive for you?
I feel blessed with a good life. It amazes me that the moments that come to life for me are beautiful for their utter simplicity. Nothing fancy. Nothing from my CV. I am most alive in those times and spaces when I allow myself time to simply be, to savor my life. Family, nature, and solitude help me feel most alive, most at home with my self. What helps you?
What about work? So much of our lives is dedicated to work and ‘getting things done’. Work provides a living and a sense of satisfaction. Is it possible to savor life at work in the same way? I love teaching, seeing patients. I love taking part in building learning environments, running workshops, reading, writing. I am doing what I love. Yet it still feels rushed, complicated, hectic. Full of ‘to do lists’ and targets. I am not ‘fully alive’ to the same extent. Are you?
I feel an aspiration towards greater wholeness. I feel a growing sense of mindfulness. I aim to make work ‘work’ for me. I feel hope and anticipation. I believe this is within reach. I can feel alive throughout my life. I can savor each moment every step of the way. To feel a deep sense of meaning in relating with my students, my patients, my colleagues, the people at work. To treasure the simplicity of life.
Yes, things are sometimes messy and complicated in life, at home as well as at work. We are sometimes in a hurry and things do not always go as planned. Yet there is a deep running simplicity in the very fiber of life, in every in-breath and out-breath. I feel a coming together of doing and being. I am learning to be what I do and do who I am. I am learning to make my work come alive.
I feel a resurrection. A transcendent dimension to my life, to my work. There is something greater at work, in play. There is this strong undercurrent, a force of life breaking through all the dead wood, the parts that are simply there without fully existing.
Life is a string of pearls. I am diving for new ones every single day. I want to want to work, to look forward to doing the things I do, to not take things for granted. I am resurrecting myself from being burried alive under my own workload to owning my work, my life. Living it. I am diving into my work with gusto. This is who I am. I am a wife, mother, psychiatrist, lecturer, educator. I am who I am, who I am meant to be. Fully me. Every moment, every step of the way.
Have you ever kept a diary? What do you write in it? I have kept a diary since my parents gave me one as a birthday gift when I was five. Before that, they kept a diary for me. Nowadays people have blogs, vlogs, facebook posts or instastories, and all the sort. Whatever format you use, the concept is the same. We record our experiences, and we might say something about how we think and feel.
That is really where it starts. It is about noticing what we experience inside us.
My diary entry might read, ‘I feel cranky… it turns out that I am hungry.’ – as simple as that, but it could mean a lot. If I didn’t recognize my feelings, I might curse another driver or snap at my kids or send a curt email and suffer from potential consequences. This happens to us all the time. When we don’t notice our inner world, we are at the mercy of our situation. By owning our thoughts and feelings, we develop the capacity to observe what is going on in us before choosing our responses.
After acknowledging what is going on in us, we can start noticing things that affect us – like our bodies. Our physical and mental health are inseparable. That is why hunger can make us cranky. That is why people eat, smoke, drink, take drugs, or do other things to their bodies ‘to cheer themselves up’.
Once we notice and understand what is happening within us, we can do something about it.
So I’ll start with myself. I am going to take action accordingly. It’s time for a healthy meal.
What about you? How do you feel, where does it come from, and what are you going to do about it?
My husband and sons love diving. Do you like diving? Living in Indonesia, we are in the heart of a haven for divers. There are incredible corals, fish, and various sea life in our doorstep. While I often come along with them on some of their underwater adventures, my favorite dives are into the self, into the soul.
Perhaps this is why I became a psychiatrist – it is my quest to understand what being human is about, to guide others in their explorations. What can be deeper than the depth of the soul? What can be wider than the breadth of one’s life? It is absolutely amazing to see life within us and beyond us.
Having a guide is definitely helpful and sometimes necessary in unfamiliar terrain, but at the very least, you need a trusted buddy. You don’t need a psychiatrist to go on your own personal exploration, as long as you know that you have someone who has your back – healthy relationships that are life-giving. The magic in soul-searching is that a pen and paper can be just as good as a listening ear – to embrace whatever comes when you pour your heart out. What you do need to know is what to do, so you can stay safe, discover yourself and get the most out of the experience.
Exploring the depths can be scary. It took me a long time to finally get my diver’s license because it is frightening to lose the ground beneath my feet and the air that flows through my nose. Diving into one’s self can be just as frightening, if not more, especially if you are used to holding tight control over yourself. The surface of the water is like the surface of your consciousness, and it can be unnerving to put your head in. You might fear becoming lunch for sharks. But most of the time, as when people dive in the ocean or other waters, you immerse yourself in an amazing world you never realize existed, you find peace and calm that you never thought were possible, you discover yourself, and you are thoroughly changed. You might actually have fun with the sharks, as my husband does. The sad truth is, more sharks end up as fin soup than they could ever hurt us.
Actually, I learned the art of diving into the soul far before I became a psychiatrist. It is this love that brought me to the work I do today. For scuba diving, we have different groups, like PADI, SSI, CMAS, etc. who teach people how to dive and give licenses. I learned how to “dive into my self” from Personnalité et Relations Humaines (personality and human relations). The method is called “PRH analysis”. If it sounds technical, that is the difference between going to a dive center and going underwater. It is good to know, but at the end of the day, the real beauty is within.
This blog is not about the technicalities. It is just my sharing of my own journey, my own explorations. If you enjoy it, that would be wonderful. If it inspires you on your own journey, even better. I would love to hear of your travels too.
We are all fellow travelers in this universe. We are free to explore this blue planet with all its waters that give us life. We are free to explore our humanness, too. Perhaps if we can better understand ourselves and our planet, it will help us grow and build humanity, to take better care of ourselves and this beautiful earth we call home.
What makes a writer? Is it the act of writing, of putting words into form? Is it the act of publishing? Is it the number of books that make a writer? One article, two articles? A blog? Is it the number of readers that makes one a writer? Is one a writer only if it is a profession, a way of making a living? Or is it a sense of who we are, a part of our identity, like being human?
For me, writing is a passion, a celebration of life, a proof of existence, an in breath and an out breath. Am I a writer? The name carries weight for me, a sense of responsibility, a sense of authority. Yes, I write, but I am used to writing for myself. It is my way of organizing my world, of getting to know myself, of growing, of healing, of living. If we can sing, are we a singer? I may not be a singer, but yes, I sing. I have been invited to sing Ave Maria at weddings, even though I don’t do it for a living. And yes, I write. As a child journalist, I have interviewed President Soeharto and written about about my chance meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But until this very day, it is my daily musings that give me life, from the time they were first published when I was six – before my teacher confiscated my diary for igniting the other students to write in theirs instead of following lessons from the blackboard…
How about you? Do you call yourself a writer? What do you write? How? What happens when you write?
I suppose we are all authors of our lives – whether we frame it in the first or third person, whether we feel the plot is one we create or one we feel granted with. I suppose this is what this blog is about. It is my sharing of a journey of a soul, of my way of making meaning. It is a journey where each step is a word, each path a story. It is the authorship of life.
I invite you to come along, if you like. I look forward to seeing you throughout the journey.