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I greeted this new year in a rather unconventional way, and I’m so glad that I chose to go to Solo. As we already know it, new year’s eve is a time where generally people would celebrate in their own “fun” way. Dancing, drinking, watching movies, house parties, looking at fireworks. I’ve had a fair share of that, except I don’t think I’ve ever been drunk on new year’s eve.. as some of you ‘cool’ people out there may find ‘lame’.

On December 31st 2012, I went to Wonogiri with my the Royal Family of Surakarta Hadinigrat and their courtiers. We went to a beach region of Paranggupito. We arrived in Sembukan Beach at around 10 in the evening. We sat cross legged in a ‘Pendopo’ (a traditional house) facing the ocean.

Sembukan Beach is also known as the 13th or the last gateway to the supernatural Kingdom of the Southern Ocean, ruled by the most beautiful Queen, the Lady of the Southern Ocean, Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, or Kanjeng Ratu Kencanasari. Somewhere between the waves, the coral reefs, the sands, is a portal to Her Majesty’s realm. Some of you still struggle to believe its very existence, and that is understandable.

It was still raining quite hard and the sound of the sea waves were actually quite terrifying. We meditated and prayed for a while. It was the first time I felt my soul elevated out of my body but I stopped it from wandering around so I forced myself to open my eyes. We waited for two hours until 00.00, some of us continued praying, some of us sleep to recharge more energy.

Ten minutes before new years day, the Queen woke some of us up. Her majesty said that we should start praying again before we greet the new year until the clock strikes 00.00. One by one we woke up and sat facing the ocean. We sat still and the rain slowly disappeared. The Solonese Queen requested to God and His Universe if they could stop the rain for as long as we are outside, and asked for a much brighter moonshine. By 00.30, we waked out of the Pendopo and the 3/4 moon was bright enough to lead us down the stairs to the beach.

We sat on the sand, in a safe distance from the raging waves. Mbah Sarwo, the Queen’s most senior spiritual handmaiden gave offerings and burnt insences and dupas. We prayed and meditated. We listened to the sound of the ocean, and it quickly helped me to stay in focus. It was 15 minutes of complete silence in a black Javanese night. The smoke from the burnt dupas gave such a strong smell, it gave a very mystic feeling. After we prayed we sat still watching the waves. Some of us continued meditating, however I was distracted by some things I saw.

Balls of energy are flying around. I could see red and white round things. Maybe in Western terms you can call them Orbs, but they are much more than that. They move like living things, they don’t just float in the air.

They were all flying towards the big hill next to the beach. I could see more and more of them come out but I felt like I was the only one who could see them.

After giving more offerings to the ocean, we walked back up but we decided to sit on a flat paved surface overlooking the beach and the hills around it. We tried taking pictures but it was tok dark, however my bother’s Nokia Symbian phone was able to capture those balls of energy that I saw. They were all lining up on the hills, watching us. I showed it to the Queen and she said, yes she saw them too. She said that they are the supernatural beings that protect the place. Not everyone has the ability to see them. My brother thought that those things he captured was only digital noise, but when I requested for those photos to be sent to my phone when we already got back to Solo, the photos turned all black and the red and white balls of energy disappeared. My brother stared at his phone, puzzled.

As we sat there, I realized that greeting the new year has to be done this way for the years to come. I choose to sit and thank God, thank the Universe, Alam semesta, jagat dan seisinya for everything that is given to me for the past year. We introspect, we look for things that are supposed to be fixed. We prayed and told God and the Pepundhen (Ancestors, spiritual beings who protect certain sacred areas) about our wishes, and we pray so they will eventually come true.

From now on, I see that celebrating new year is supposed to be with a lot of introspection, and to be very thankful, instead of having too much fun. That’s what being spiritual is. Knowing that you belong to this Universe, this nature, and always remembering to come back to God to say thank you. It felt so good, much much better than partying. Being in one with nature is so important, it builds instinct and awareness of our surroundings. That’s why ancient Indonesians are so powerful or sakti, it’s because they are constantly one with nature.

I’m not looking to become powerful or sakti. I just want to say Thank You to God, and hope that I will be protected for the years to come. 

In this digital era, Facebook is the main media for people to “validate” themselves. Guilty people.. who know that they’re wrong – but still claim that they’re right, will always look for validation. I know this, because sometimes I do it too! However some people do it more than others.

Some people I know set statuses which encourages other people to agree with them. Sometimes they write long notes and tag a lot of people so they’d get comments and thumbs. I’m a blogger now, and hundreds of people actually read my writing! I still do statuses, as a self expression, but I barely do notes because I ACTUALLY have things to do now (this post is even written during my break time!). I used to write lots of notes, but I’ve stopped doing it so often. My statuses aren’t about complaints and anger anymore, cause life’s going great – despite all of the hoo-haa I went through before.

I used to accept every friend request, chat to everyone who says hi – but now I’m far more pickier. I don’t accept every friend request, I found a way to appear offline to selected people, and I hide posts from particular people – and usually end up deleting them anyway – who’s statuses annoy the hell out of me (usually they have narcissistic, judgmental, fundamentalist, anti-semitic and racist statuses). Not because I’m full of myself, but it’s because I don’t want to feel upset when I open Facebook. I used to be online for HOUUURSSS, lately.. 2 hours max – cause I’ve been busy. It’s lovely to have a LIFE outside Facebook. I get to meet REAL people, have REAL interactions and REAL conversations.

Be careful with what you say through social media such as Facebook. People are judgmental, very judgmental. Because it’s easier to talk about other people than to understand other people.

Alexia.

There are some people out there who just get on your nerves. As someone who’s still young, and still learning about life, handling people I don’t like is still a big deal. Sometimes, they bother me so much, it ruins my whole day. I don’t intend to make my day a living hell, but that’s a sign that the annoying person’s winning the game.

My mother gets confused. She asks “why do you let them bother you?” … so I thought to myself.. hey, she’s right. So ever since she asked me that question, I’ve been trying to relax a little more, and try not to think so much. So the secret is.. to let go, ignore and just leave it behind. Don’t let it ruin your day.. or your life.

The person who used to be my friend is apparently still talking about me behind my back. Negative remarks, I bet, this I can see from the attitudes of some people I used to be close with, have now slightly changed – because now they’re close to my old friend. What I’d love to say to them is, that person is only friends with YOU because that person needs someone to b*tch about me… pretty much. Because in fact, this person used to b*tch about these people to me. So, I know what this person’s really like.

Again, my mother started lecturing me about “why do you let them bother you?”.. so I went back to step one, and try to let it go. In that “letting go” process, I remembered some things about myself. I remembered how blessed I am as a person. When I lose a friend, I always gain a lot more, and I always learn from every friendship – and I did. The other day I went to one of my friends’ house, and had so much fun. Her mum made me tea and bought me dinner. I could learn a thing or two from these people, they are real artists.

My mum also reminds me, that toxic friends should be avoided. When they don’t make me feel good about myself, I shouldn’t get too close. From now on, I’m going to try to let them bother me. Nobody’s putting me down anymore.

Alexia.

Positivity and Individuality

I’ve always been quite a negative person, and when I surround myself with negative people, I get worse. Even if I surround myself with people who think they know how to be positive, yet they’re doing the complete opposite of what they’re saying, I get negative too. Negativity is a disease, and it needs to be cured, and it CAN be cured.

These are some of the sentences I wrote down in my notebook to remind myself to always be positive – and they’re from personal experiences! =

1. There will always be sh*tty times when everything lets you down. But always remember that better days are around the corner too!

2. Enjoy everything. Even when you’re broke, sick, angry, sad, hungry, or even suffering. Life is a gift.

3. When someone wants to put you down, it’s because they’re threatened.

4. Jealous people will always look for your negative side. Don’t let them affect you, do the best you can.

5. Not everybody is born rich, success doesn’t come easy either. There are no shortcuts in life, work hard but enjoy everything.

6. If the person you’re in love with doesn’t love you back, that’s probably God saying “I’ve got a better one for you”.

7. Take it easy, don’t work too hard, party too hard, cry too hard, laugh too hard. (“too much haha pretty soon boo-hoo” – Ted from Scrubs)

8. Love yourself. Your body is your soul’s boat, take care of it, so you don’t drown in the storm of life.

However, when people talk about you negatively, sometimes you can’t help but feel insecure. Individuality has always been important to me. I don’t really copy styles from magazines and I don’t like being the same with other people. However, being an “individual” can sometimes get you judged, people will say that you’re weird, a freak, etc.. These are the things I wrote down for this kind of situation:

1. What other people think of you is none of your business.

2. Being too sane is a sign of madness.

3.  No one can tell you who you are.

4. Identity is very important. Know who you are, and always keep your feet steady on the ground.

I’m far more positive these days. I’m so much happier and I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. I’ve learned not to worry about what other people think about me. If I stop talking about other people negatively, and if I stop judging other people, people would stop talking about me negatively and judging me too. But I don’t worry if people judge, people judge when they want to bring someone down. I’ve even started being friends with people I used to blindly judge, because I’ve stopped looking at their negative side.. and they’re not so bad at all. Life’s been much better after I start letting things go. I don’t give a tiny rat’s *ss when someone says bad things about me,… cause it’s their problem.. none of my business. I enjoy life now. Even when I’m sick and coughing out disgusting things out of my throat – life is awesome. Even from now, I can see me being in a great position in the future.

Alexia.

What is wrong with my country? Why is everybody so conservative these days? and they’re so easily teased and offended.

Religion is no longer a “life guidance” here, it’s more towards “how to ruin your life – and other people’s too”. People debate about what’s the “correct” Islam – nobody knows you dimwits! Mind your own religions, don’t tell other people that their religion is wrong. Some Ahmadiyah followers have been killed and tortured, religious minorities are like geeks in a class full of popular kids.. they don’t really care about fitting in. This religion thing is very much like a grown-up peer pressure gone so completely wrong. Now there are more riots in Temanggung, Central Java. People are burning down churches. Now which part of your Holy Book teaches you to do that? Hmm.. “Thou shalt defend this belief by destroying those who believe differently”. I can bet you, no religion teaches you to do so.

I am a Muslim, but not a conservative one. All I know, I believe in God, and I believe in doing good to others. That’s it. When you start putting too many rules into your beliefs, people start to have wrong perceptions, different translations. Therefore when other people do things differently, the other one gets annoyed, offended, etc. This is where the sh*t hits the fan. Just because other people believe in other different things, it doesn’t mean they’re bad. There’s nothing wrong with being different.

I know some people who even don’t believe in God, but they’re much more ethical, nicer, kinder than the ones who say that they are ‘religious’. Some religious people bomb, kill, torture… in the name of God. I’m not saying that we should stop being religious or stop believing in God, of course not. But can’t you see what’s wrong here?? People are killing in the name of GOD, and that is the furthest thing from being religious. Religion keeps us close to God, not kill for Him.

Nobody’s religion is right or wrong. Our religion is our own business with God, and nobody should intervene. So what if other people are different? Are you going to kill someone else just because they wear a different shirt colour than yours? No right? Are you going to judge someone’s food taste or preference of movies? Nooo right? It’s a personality thing… What you believe in is different to what other people believe in and that’s NORMAL.. it’s NATURAL, it’s meant to be. It comes down to that.

Where is the moral and the respect.. and the love for each other? People should really stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about their communities, the future of the country. Don’t make it worse just because that guy or that girl thinks differently. How dumb is that? Grow up, all of you!

Alexia.

Godwin Bradbeer

Yesterday I was chatting with a dear friend of mine, Eun Jung. She’s my Korean friend, we went to art school together in Melbourne, Australia. She informed me that the man who used to be our drawing lecturer, Godwin Bradbeer is now retired. Both Eun Jung and I feel very lucky that we were both taught by Godwin. He was an inspirational, funny, passionate and an extremely talented teacher. He made teaching look like a theatre performance. He had a sort of rockstar flair, he had his own strut, and he was always friendly to everyone, he was a great mentor. I was proud, and honoured to be his student. Godwin is also a very talented artist. His drawings are stunning (and worth A LOT of money too hehe). I’m hoping that even though he stopped teaching, he won’t stop creating artworks. One day when I return to visit Melbourne, I’d have to pay him a visit. We miss you, Godwin!

Click here to view his official website.

Alexia

Imago I, by Godwin Bradbeer

I’m still that same girl since the day that I was born. I was looking through some of the photographs of my friends on Facebook, and thought to myself.. wow.. I’m so different from these people. Maybe if I was still close to them, they’d think I’m the most boring person in the world.

Clubbing is such a big deal. People hang out in the coolest spots – me on the other hand.. can’t stand clubs. I used to go out often when I lived in Australia, but I rarely clubbed. It’s just not my cup of tea. I’ve surprised myself. I used to be one of them, I liked hanging out at cool places until late an night. However, now I prefer less “cooler” places. I enjoy sitting on the side of a street in Solo, drinking hot tea, the locals call it “wedangan”. I try to invite friends who I can start meaningful and intelligent conversations with. In Solo, most of my friends come from the academic background, such as lecturers. They are smart and fortunately very funny at the same time, so I enjoy sitting down on the floor, with a hot drink, enjoying the evening view, rather than in a room with loud music – with a bunch of “cool” people. I like being around nerds better.

One of my old high school friends is similar to me. She doesn’t feel comfortable around the “cool” hotspots. We both figured that “hey, we don’t fit into that scene!” and we don’t try to fit in either. We feel comfortable doing what we do every day, and we don’t need other people to judge or say whether we are “cool” or not. She also said that her younger sister who is still in high school says that peer pressure will always be around. She says “Don’t worry, you don’t need to fit in with them, just be yourself”, which I couldn’t agree more.

I guess when I was growing up, there was a time when I tried to be a part of the cool gang, but  figured out – damn, they’re so different from me. I’m so glad, and forever thankful that I am the way I am today. I’m so thankful that I am not as insecure as many people out there who try hard to mold themselves into a particular community. I’m so lucky that I found a group of people that I’m comfortable enough to call ‘friends’. People who can accept me the way I am without judging me. People are insecure when they judge other people a lot too. They’re insecure because they worry what other people think about them. They’re afraid of other people’s judgments, because they spent their lives judging other people. Which is why I vowed to stop judging other people, everyone is different.

However, I do care about the way I look. It’s not because I’m superficial, but my look is a part of my identity. But some people go overboard. They’d do anything to make themselves look like the idea of beauty in this country. People like looking Western here – rather than trying to embrace the Indonesian beauty they each have. The celebrities they put on TV don’t help either. They all look Western. They don’t represent real Indonesians. When I was a teenager, I used to copy styles from the magazine, but now I’m sick of it, cause I’m just copying someone else. I wasn’t comfortable with it. I don’t like following, I’d rather create something that is my own. Identity is incredibly important to me, to express oneself, to know who I really am. Trying to fit into someone that I’m not is the same thing as lying to myself.

So I thank God everyday, I am not one of them. I am not one of those people who worry about other people’s judgments, I am not one of those people who tries to fit into something that I’m not. I am SO thankful that I am comfortable with myself.

Alexia.