Monday, 5 January 2015

Hello... Thank you...

I am not a writer. But I've always had a thing for writing. Somehow, having my thoughts laid out on a piece of paper or on the computer screen is immensely appealing.  Maybe it’s a way for me to feed my ego.  Some people prefer to have their selfies immortalized in their instagram posts, while others like to cram their twitter timeline with fiery comments on everything under the sun.  Maybe that’s their sense of self-fulfillment.  But for me, re-reading the things I have written, the views I have reflected on, is a pleasure second to none.
As a kid, I had little interest in anything written.  I was more of a comic book reader, always needing pictures to stimulate my brain.  And in my past time, I preferred hanging out at the nearest parks, with my younger brother and my buddies, always with a ball of some kind.  You name it: soccer ball, football, baseball, tennis ball, and other spherical objects alike.  Reading was boring, let alone writing.  Only when my teachers demanded that I would strain my eyes on the tedious sentences of my textbooks.
This interest in writing came about later, some time in college, as I started to appreciate the beautiful works of Jhumpa Lahiri, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Vikram Seth, Djenar Maesa Ayu, and many others. One after another, the words of these novelists, poets, and essayists evoked emotions in me: sadness, joy, despair, hope, loneliness, anger, envy, and everything else in between.  They kept me high. As life became more difficult, I turned to books for clues of survival.  And when I'm not in the company of the words and sentences of my idol writers, my mind often churn out those of my own, imitating art, continuously re-fabricating that high. 
So, when I started my blog in 2010, it was mostly out of self-interest. No, I was not looking for attention; I think I had managed to do just fine without having to rack my brain up with proper conjugations and prepositions. What I wanted was some form of a high, topped of with a sense of achievement. The ability to convey my thoughts, feelings, dreams in a structured, meaningful way. I never dared to assume any notion of beauty in my writings. All I wanted was to make my thoughts recorded for life, in case one day I would re-visit them, and trace the lines of my journey so far.
But when I found out that others were also reading my writings, that sense of achievement, fulfilment was multiplied. I wasn’t necessarily happy because of any particular compliment.  I mean, there weren’t actually many comments made by the readers. But growing numbers on my blog's visitors' counter made me  seek for new ideas and ways to fill up my blog. I became, for lack of a better word, addicted. 
When there was nothing worthy of opining, I would write a book review. Once a while, I would pretend to be serious by writing about international affairs. I would write about my favourite football team and football player, or attempt at smartness by explaining the inexplicable "million friends zero enemy" mantra of President SBY's diplomacy. All in all, it was fun, to say the least.
Unfortunately, since moving back to Beijing at the beginning of 2014, nothing new has been added to my blog.  Maybe it was the load of work at a new posting, which cut down the amount of free time  for leisure writing.  Or maybe it was having a three-year-old daughter who just wouldn’t let me have any time alone.  I mean, I wasn't running out of ideas to write about.  If anything, being back in Beijing, and seeing the changes this country has gone through, I am always toying around with ideas, words and sentences in my head.  Yet, somehow, all of them have resulted in nothing.
2014 was exciting.  But, in some ways, the year felt incomplete.
And so, I felt that some things must be restored. That moment happened on the first morning of 2015, when I went into my mini library and browsed for a book to spend the day with.  As I went through my collection, I stopped at a black-spined, title-less book, hidden between a novel about life in modern Tokyo, and a research book on ethnicities in China.  That book turned out to be a Moleskine notebook.  Engraved on the bottom right-hand corner of the notebook were the words
And then I remembered that it was a notebook given to me in 2013 by Terry Subagja, a colleague diplomat, a fellow soccer player, and a fun guy who I simply enjoy being around with. It was such a thoughtful gift, particularly after he had said that my blog somehow inspired him to also write more.  But two years later, that beautiful Moleskine remains unused.  And so, on that cold morning, standing with an empty notebook in my hand, I felt that I had let Terry down.  That I had not kept a promise to a good friend.
I looked up to my bookshelf again, and immediately noticed another Moleskine, that I also have never used before.  It was a gift from Airin Rachma, also colleague diplomat, before she went away to do her studies in Denver. The Moleskine, she had said, was unmistakably “Mas Santo”, as it came with a Lego building block.  Airin has since completed her studies.  She’s also a mom now! And yet, there’s still nothing written on that notebook.  What would a notebook be unused.  For a second time, I felt like I’ve disappointed another friend.
It was then that I resolved to make things right.  To embark on fulfilling that promise with a new year’s resolution: that I would write more in 2015.  Blogs, lyrics, essays, notes to a loved one.  Anything, everything.  I almost went as far as promising myself that I would write something at least every week.  But then, I  realized that this may be a bit too much.  I will write more in 2015.  And this blog post, would be the first of what I hope to be many more this year.
Indeed, I have drawn inspiration from some of my favorite writers.  But on 1 January 2015, having been moved to once again fill the pages of my blog, I have come to realize that more so than these writers, the people who matter are actually those around me.  People like my family, my colleagues, my friends. I know that Jhumpa Lahiri and Vikram Seth matter; but so do, and maybe even more, Terry Subagja and Airin Rachma. 
With this, and with my mind inspired, and my will newly motivated, I thus would like to begin this new year with these words: To all those around me, thank you.