I know I can’t be the only person who sometimes goes to sleep thinking about a certain mistake, or embarrassing moment, or something utterly nonsense that I somehow managed to pull even out of a seemingly very casual thin air; wishing that by the time I wake up in the morning it’ll all be a distant memory that no longer matters. Except that most of the time, it does not.
The thoughts linger, and when I first open my eyes in the morning, it’s still going to be the first thing that intervenes into my mind. And then I’ll continue to have that battle within myself that won’t see a finish line until a certain situation unfolds and tells me whether or not that mess I created indeed results in something ugly – and if it does yield something bad, how bad it is exactly.
People – at least those on Indonesian Twitter-sphere, it seems, based on my not-so-in-depth popular culture observation – seem to enjoy being in a competition of: “Who overthinks the most?”. I hate to join the bandwagon as I think my particular case is not exactly special and a bunch of you may experience similar torment constantly, but I just wanted to say that these thoughts… Suck. Big time.
I find it funny that only last year, after a series of turbulence that eventually landed me somewhere where I could say, oh look, life is on my side for once – I finally had the confidence to think to myself, “This is it. I can now manage my resources and time independently towards my utmost craving for travels. There’s no stopping me now.” Then all of sudden, the coronavirus came out of nowhere – sort of. Leaving the world shattered in so many ways, in a blink of an eye. A personal long-term goal of mine included.
Until two months ago, I seemed to still have my 2020 plans (and beyond, to some extent) mapped out pretty well. I would spend weekends making a list of places I would’ve loved to visit this year, along with the corresponding dates to get the cheapest flight ticket. I had budgeted the spending for this year’s vacation and estimated how much I need to save each month to afford those. Earlier at the beginning of the year, obviously I had marked the calendar on my office desk with long weekend dates and some additional days where I planned to take my vacation as well. Those who have known me for quite some time might know that these are just the tips of the iceberg on how meticulously irritating I could get when planning something I am genuinely ecstatic about.
Even last year when I decided to sign with my current employer after long and thorough consideration, I thought at the very least that this was going to be the job that could take me to (literal) places and meet a whole bunch of new colleagues from all over the globe.* I had imagined all the mandatory trainings in Abu Dhabi and/or Melun that I, as a new hire, would be doing. Among all equally promising reasons, this was a pivotal one for me. This sort of opportunity was such a routine, a standard normal, a fact that has been going on in the company for literally decades that I didn’t stop to think if there was a remote possibility that for once, this might not be the case.
If anything, this quarantine period has got me bouncing around from one “extracurricular” activity to another. The first couple weeks, I felt so heavily invested in some technical office work that I had to complete for my first-year promotional review. The following couple weeks, I found myself programming until past-midnight, trying to finish two courses on C and Python at the same time. Strangely enough to me, I surprisingly… enjoyed it? But unfortunately, before it even finished, somehow I was already overwhelmed by a surge of inspiration to get creative and start looking into my dusty websites to make changes here and there. Yes, websites in plural, as in all three of them that I currently try to maintain, lol.
In the last five days, I had re-curated some of the photoworks that I held most dearly, that I felt connected with the most, to be showcased here. Not only that, I had also committed that I’d write a poem for every photoset there is. After all, the website was supposed to be called Photographs and Poems initially, which I eventually had to change because apparently I never had enough time and motivation to write poetic captions for every single one of them. But with this quarantine, look who’s starting to get all the time in the world to do so! Welp, partially owing to my having my period in the past week so I couldn’t practice fasting and other forms of Ramadan prayers as well, thus being kind of unsure on how to waste my time a bit more productively. Long story short, the original title of the portfolio has come back with some edits, hence poetry and selected photoworks.
It was a summer of green plateau and turquoise ocean when I had my first, and possibly last, Acadian crush. He was a married man with a pair of the clearest blue-hazel eyes I’ve ever recognized in person, and dark curly hair with slightly golden tips hidden underneath a grey hat that made him look much younger than he actually was.
Luca Gauthier and I ventured into the Acadian, boreal, and taiga forests of Cape Breton Highland that morning of July 13rd. He brought an apple in his blue backpack, and a tiny container of almond, ham sandwich, and celery sticks that his wife prepared for him earlier that day. “How are you?” He asked me. “Great, can’t be more thrilled,” I said. “It’s my first time in the region and I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months!”
Edmonton, Spring 2018
There is something quite liberating about chilling on the balcony of your third-floor apartment in a rainy afternoon, under the huge, shady trees, just letting the rain shower your bare skins as you embrace the spring breeze. For a moment, forgetting about those unsettling emotions and unfinished chores. Breathe, let loose. Smell the dry earth. Sing a farewell ode to snows.
I think the majority of us often forgets to appreciate the small details that make life hurt slightly less, and enlighten the world slightly more.