Friday, June 26, 2015


As a Chinese descendant in Indo, in my younger years I struggled with the idea of belonging. I felt that the nation itself didn't acknowledge me fully as their own, so I wrestled with the idea that I wasn't a native anywhere. Where did I belong then? The Chinese (mainland Chinese) would have nothing to do with me as I don't even speak their language and I don't know their customs and their way of life. I wasn't interested in learning the language at all as it was a grueling process that needed money and determination (I chose to study English instead) and in my young mind at that time, I didn't want to be even more "Chinese" than I already was. I was bitter and angry for some years because of this.

A square peg in a round hole. That was what I felt. My saving grace was the fact that there was a big Chinese community in Indo and I had lots of friends that were in a similar position and I grew up with lots of relatives and cousins. When the riot happened in 1998, I felt sick to my stomach that my Chinese facial features could have made me a target of attacks (FYI my family was safe), but there were others who were in a similar position, so I didn't feel alone and I was definitely not alone. We tried looking out for one another as a group and we tried to stay home as much as we could. After the political situation got better in Indo, I started to be more at ease and the older I got, the more I came to terms with the non-native idea. I'm a citizen of the world, native to none and that's OK. 

Now, after having lived in Finland for a little over 8 years, I'm partly Chinese-Indonesian, partly Finnish, and partly Indonesian. Even with this hodgepodge of cultures within me, I can still find other people like me relatively easily through the wonder of the internet and as an expat in Finland, it's again relatively easy to find other expats and relate to them.

Being a childless-not-by-choice woman, though, that took the isolation to a whole new level as regular people (even those that didn't lack empathy in other areas) couldn't really relate to this. The first time I used the world "infertile" in my emails to my closest friends, their reaction was so strong that it made me feel as though I had jinxed myself for using that word to describe myself. Yet I desperately needed the term to find my support group, to find those people who could understand and validate my inner chaos (and thereby validate that I wasn't a bad person just because I had my inner chaos). After we decided to let go of this dream, I started using the term non-mom or childless-not-by-choice (CNBC) as my self-identification in order to find my support group.

That said, these days I've started thinking more about labels and how I'd like to call myself. All through these years there's one thing that never changes about me: I LOVE exploring my own thoughts and feelings and finding out why I feel the way I feel and then figuring out what to do with them. I enjoy the ecstasy of screaming out "EUREKA!" when I finally find out why I feel the way I feel, even way before I can figure out what to do with them.

So hereby I'd like to declare my current badge: I'm an Eternal Self-Explorer. Nice to meet you. :-)

Image taken from here

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

Beware Nostalgia!

A few years back I read those words in a book. "Beware nostalgia", Jean Vanier said in reply to someone who was wondering if she had left her previous mission place too soon (Jean Vanier Essential Writings, page 56). I never really thought much about those words, though they stuck in my mind. The other day, though, the words really spoke to me personally. 

Jean Vanier's words and the conversation I had with some friends helped me a great deal in dealing with my nostalgic feelings and angst. Suffice it to say that if friendship were an entity, I had been holding on to its dying body all these years because I couldn't yet let go of the nostalgia. I kept holding on to the good that we had had together, hoping that the body would function better if only I kept on trying to give it CPR. However, my efforts only made me more resentful, because an imbalanced friendship never works. I tried lowering down my expectations a few times, but apparently the CPR I kept on giving to the dying body only acted like a venom to my own psyche. The venom of unmet expectations. When one wants and longs to give more time and effort, but one needs to hold back because the other party cannot give as much anymore, it is a loss. It is devastating to turn a forever friendship into a no-strings-attached (acquaintance-like) friendship.

The body of friendship was dying, so I had to let it go completely. No more holding on to nostalgia to keep the body alive. This time I arranged a sea burial in my mind. I placed the dying body on a raft and set it to burn. The waves carried the burning raft away to the darkened horizon. After a while, my gaze turned to the sky, where the stars were twinkling away...and I feel lighter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Post Mortem

One of the places I visited on my last travel was Highgate Cemetery. When I was there, I couldn't help thinking of all the texts or quotes written on the stones. I haven't noticed any additional texts on the gravestones here in this village, though I haven't really looked, either. Yet walking around Highgate Cemetery, which was filled with so many texts or quotes, made me think of how people choose them for their loved ones. Those texts range from "beloved by all" or "in loving memory" or "finally together again" or "he/she was much loved" or "at peace with God". My hopeless-romantic part love those different texts. :-)

My logic, though, is a different matter. I've given up any thought of how I'd like my body to be dealt with when I'm gone because it depends on who will be left behind and that person(s) left behind may not be anyone close to me because half of my family lives in Indo. That said, though, this tablet managed to reduce me to near tears as I was leaving the cemetery through the gift shop:

Anyway, here are some lovely quotes by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (many more in the link below):

“We run after values that, at death, become zero. At the end of your life, nobody asks you how many degrees you have, or how many mansions you built, or how many Rolls Royces you could afford. That’s what dying patients teach you.”

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross