Tag Archives: optimism

Living in Java: an update

Well, well, well. It’s been a pretty amazing year and a bit in Java. Spending one whole year in Java doesn’t actually sound like that much of a big deal to me right now. But I know that before arriving the thought of living anywhere other than Australia for a year seemed like sheer madness. Now it feels normal.

Just one of the many amazing places I have visited in Java in the past year
Just one of the many amazing places I have visited in Java in the past year

Earlier this year I posted a video montage celebrating a year in Indonesia. It’s a simple video which shows some of the trials, tribulations and delights of everyday life in Indonesia. Some with a keen eye will have seen some of the important moments from my time here in Indonesia so far.

Getting Married

The most important thing that has happened to me in Indonesia during the past year is getting married. I came to Java for a 3-month stint studying Indonesian and ended up getting married. How did that happen? Nobody knows, but I’m extremely happy and that’s all that really matters. Susan and I were married in June this year in Bali surrounded by a handful of friends and family.

Us on our wedding day
Us on our wedding day

Learning Indonesian in Bandung

I came originally to study at IMLAC for 3 months before shooting off to Bali to learn how to surf. Well, since I was getting to know Susan and was generally having a fab time living in Bandung, I decided to extend my Indonesian lessons. I ended up completing 6 months of full-time study. I thought that after completing this much studying that I would be fluent, but I am not. I can hold a conversation with anyone in Indonesian and can pickup a lot of what people are talking about when I overhear their conversations, but I still struggle to talk in the style of locals. Why? Because the proper way of speaking and writing in Indonesian is a long way from how most people actually speak. Many people studying at my school questioned why we didn’t learn the informal language, but that’s not something you go to school for. You learn that on the street and by interacting with people.

One of the classrooms at IMLAC
One of the classrooms at IMLAC

For anyone intending on staying in Indonesia for any extended period of time, I would highly recommend getting some formal training in Bahasa Indonesia. I saw many people arrive in IMLAC with no Indonesian language knowledge getting to a pretty good proficiency within 1 month.

Writing for Travelfish

I continued writing for Travelfish while in Indonesia and this took about 3 months of my time. I covered most of Java. Actually, to cover every tourism aspect of Java would probably take about 5 months, so I hit the spots that foreign tourists are more likely to hit. Even then I spent a week at one point without seeing another white person. Java doesn’t get many foreign tourists travelling through it. Those that do come here spend their time in Yogyakarta and then move on. How very sad.

Working for Travelfish is no holiday, but it's fun!
Working for Travelfish is no holiday, but it’s fun!

Honeymoon

Recently Susan and I spent two months in Australia and New Zealand having our honeymoon. We stayed in campervans for most of the period and it was an incredible experience. Highly recommended. More to come on this.

Sunrise in the outback on our honeymoon
Sunrise in the outback on our honeymoon

Thoughts

Reflecting on the past year and a bit, I can truly say that life is unpredictable when you don’t have the anchor of a proper job dictating events. I’m becoming increasingly keen to start a business or ten here in Indonesia. Everywhere I look I see opportunity for people with my background to make money. Whether it be opening up a small guesthouse, a small eatery, a website or something else. Opportunity abounds here.

Right now Susan and I are experimenting with a new Indonesian travel website called Pergi Dulu which we hope one day will provide destination information to the growing masses of Indonesian travellers. Today it is a blog, tomorrow hopefully something different.

So that’s where I am at now. I’m truly passionate about Indonesia and am bullish on the country’s economic prospects and potential as a tourist destination. If only the rest of the world would wake up.

Symbolic Departure

Today I leave Melbourne. Destination Bali to write the Bali edition of Travelfish’s travel guides. I don’t plan to return to Melbourne. I was asked the other day if I felt my journey to Bali and therefore the conclusion of my time in Melbourne was symbolic. Symbolic in that it’s the finalisation of the separation from my wife. I responded by saying “no” because it didn’t feel like it… But now it does. I really do feel like today is the end of a chapter and the start of another and the page turns without even a hint of sadness. Sure, we can all talk of what could have been, but I look forward with optimism and renewed passion for the journey ahead.

So what have I learned through the process? Well, the main things that I have done well revolve around positive energy. I’ve tried my hardest to remain optimistic, tried my hardest to get out there and socialise (not always successfully!), did my best to accept the inevtiability of the situation immediately (ie didn’t hang on with false hope), held no grudges or bad feelings, did my best to not revel in the victim role which many many people would have me be in (they felt pity), and most of all, I got on with my life. I see these as contributing to the emotional place that I am in now and I love it.

I’ve tried to think of things that I could have done better but I just can’t find any at the moment. I really do feel fortunate to have had things turn out as they have.

So it all sounds as if everything for me is beautiful and that this journey was easy. It wasn’t. Introspection, which I think this process necessarily involves, requires complete honesty with oneself, the ability to observe your thoughts and the ability to tame ones ego. I’m no messiah when it comes to this stuff, but I did try hard and it was difficult at times.

So on the eve of a new adventure, I urge everyone to: not judge, reject cynicism, live pro-actively and above all, remain optimistic even when every bone in your body tells you not to be.

Remaining Positive About Lifestyle Design

Lifestyle Design is about dreaming of a future free from the restraints that are placed on us by societal norms. That is, free from a job we hate, stepping away from rampant consumerism and discovering things about ourselves that we never thought we possessed. Whilst dreaming, Lifestyle Designers begin taking steps to make these life changes a reality and along the way there are inevitably a whole range of hiccups that many of us don’t like to talk about for fear of appearing to be a dismal failure. A recent post by Adam Baker (When to Quit Traveling) about giving up travelling the world earlier than planned and returning “home” to start a normal life again is a great post because it highlights the hurdles that Lifestyle Designers face when trying to find a different life. And it’s authentic – something that is so often missing in the entrepreneurial/Lifestyle Design world.

In the same vein, I face issues which question the very nature of Lifestyle Design. After recently splitting with my good friend and partner of 12 years, my visions of Lifestyle Design have been turned on their head. My plans were interwoven with my partner’s, my financial plans were based on a couple sharing expenses and my whole future was about living independently, but as a couple!

So what happens when you decide to split with your partner and you’ve already started down the Lifestyle Design path? My immediate panicked thoughts turned to the “normal” life.  A full-time job, a nice house, retreating to a place I was familiar with… It all sounded so comfortable and it’s what I thought I needed immediately after a break-up. I think I also seriously questioned whether this whole Lifestyle Design gig was for real or just a charade to mask deeper-seated discontentment. It was almost as if I had switched to believing that a life of discontentment was actually OK because it’s what everyone else is doing.

Well, I’m here to say that I was able to pull myself out of that temporary lapse of sanity. But things are different now and I look forward to the challenges of Lifestyle Design with a different set of eyes. Certainly, life in the future seems a little more open to my own whims – but this question keeps coming up. “Why bother with Lifestyle Design?” And the only answer I can come up with, and it sounds logical, is that it’s too easy to settle into discontentment and that true happiness is something that needs to be strived towards. And that by definition requires effort and perhaps a journey with a myriad of hurdles.

But it also begs the question.  “How does one remain positive about lifestyle design when the chips are down?” It’s certainly something needs exploring as the new breed of Lifestyle Designers journey forth into the unknown and these obstacles present themselves.

Marriage Break-Up: Pre-Moving Out

The catalyst for me starting a new blog is the break-up of my 12 year relationship with my good friend and wife.  We had previously been writing for www.dutyfreeliving.com and made a good go at blogging, lifestyle design and a new way of living.  So rather than getting down into the doldrums about a break-up, I thought I’d write a little bit about it.  Since the decision was made to separate, I’ve been documenting my feelings and reactions to the whole process.  To date (and prior to moving house), these are the key points:

Shock – For me, this was accompanied by a kind of numbness that meant I wasn’t emotional.  In this stage I was very clinical and matter of fact.  I did, however, lose my appetite completely and gain a new friend which I call an “Anxiety Ball”.  Essentially, this was a terrible tension in the stomach area that wouldn’t allow me to focus on anything else except the issue at hand.  Most of this lasted about a week from the decision to separate.

Fear – One of my big fears was about the future.  I had not given any thought whatsoever about my direction without my wife and this meant I needed to act quickly to determine what the best course was.  The problem was that most options seemed so backward given that I’d recently left a career, a house and relocated to a new city for a new life.  My initial reaction was to head back to the safety of what I knew – a full-time job, move back to my old city and try and get some “normality” back into my life.  After pondering these thoughts for about a week, I had a revelation and came up with a solution which is not much different from what I was going to do with my wife anyway.  It’s just that this solution is more independent than before.

Optimism – Many believe our feelings are beyond our control and that our frame of mind is fixed by our moods.  There is some merit in this, but I believe that with strength, we can shift our moods.   In times such as these, it would be easy to be pessimistic about the future.   It’s the default position for most people, me included, and one in which we feel entitled to.  Well, we may well be entitled to pessimism, but wallowing in our own self-pity won’t get us very far.  Optimism is king here and I think it’s worthwhile steadfastly sticking with optimism even when it feels good to wallow in self-pity.

So whilst all this sounds terribly depressing, it doesn’t need to be!  If we allow ourselves to be slaves to our emotions, we can easily fall into the abyss.  So I think the first step is to recognise that significant life changes are all part and parcel of life itself and with significant life change comes discomfort.  I say a big, “Hello!” to Mr. Discomfort but, “you can bugger off if you’re going to try and drag me down.”

For many people in relationships that are heading down the Lifestyle Design path, the issue of the relationship itself is quite often off topic.  As I move forward, I plan to give more thought to how relationships both enhance and hinder the Lifestyle Design process.  Happy to discuss!