Build­ing the in­ner-world

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - Between the Lines - — Se­bas­tian Par­togi

IN BE­TWEEN MY WRIT­ING as­sign­ments, this Curious Ge­orge likes to re­fresh his mind by check­ing peo­ple’s In­sta­gram ac­counts.

Oc­ca­sion­ally I find lots of in­spir­ing stuff: I saw my idol, a writer, put up a pic­ture of her pile of books, dic­tio­nar­ies plus a lap­top and a cup of black cof­fee. “Back to writ­ing!” she posted. Boy, that sure mo­ti­vated me to “whis­tle while work­ing”: so my idol and I were do­ing ex­actly the same thing that morn­ing.

Some­times, I also see things that make me sad, like when one ac­quain­tance put up his newly taken photo on In­sta­gram: He was in an ex­tra-tight polo shirt show­cas­ing his beau­ti­ful and well-sculpted body. The prob­lem was with his photo’s de­scrip­tion: “Poor me. Now, I al­ready have what it takes to get a girl. Taut mus­cles, tan-sprayed skin, no fat. So why on Earth am I still sin­gle?”

The post­ing might be an “in­vi­ta­tion” — a com­mon modus operandi to get part­ners on­line, but still, the su­per­fi­cial­ity of the thought made me sad. Af­ter try­ing hard to meet so­ci­ety’s rigid and nar­row stan­dards of beauty, he still didn’t get what he wanted.

If you think hav­ing a part­ner or a spouse will make you happy, think again. De­spite our moral pre­ten­sions, it has been tacit knowl­edge many adults are in­volved in adul­tery or have more than just one part­ner. I have at least one fe­male friend who fre­quently calls dur­ing the night­time, cry­ing. Why? She is ro­man­ti­cally in­volved with a mar­ried man who seems to take ad­van­tage of her vul­ner­a­bil­ity and lone­li­ness. The man prom­ises to di­vorce his wife and marry my friend, but blah. He just needs an ex­tra fix.

If mar­riage or ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships do not make you happy, the world brings with it many temp­ta­tions: pro­fes­sional suc­cess, wealth and fame. All of which, when com­bined, equal power.

I know one per­son who seems to have all of these yet still feels in­se­cure be­cause she hasn’t at­tained some goals in her life. I hap­pened to be “col­lat­eral dam­age” for her discontent: she of­ten puts me down dur­ing meet­ings.

The most per­plex­ing ques­tion is: Why do some peo­ple have ev­ery­thing a per­son could ask for, yet are still un­happy? A chil­dren’s song called “There is a hole in my bucket” sud­denly comes to mind.

Some­one once said “trauma is a great equal­izer”. Most peo­ple have en­dured some painful or trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ences in their life­time. This trauma then cre­ates “holes” in­side their soul, prompt­ing them to des­per­ately find ways to mend these wounds.

Un­for­tu­nately, peo­ple of­ten go to ex­ter­nal things, think­ing these will heal their wounds. My friends and I, for in­stance, are sur­vivors of abuse. We both try to com­pen­sate for our sense of in­fe­ri­or­ity through many things: craft­ing achieve­ments in our univer­sity years and be­com­ing peo­ple-pleasers, think­ing that pop­u­lar­ity will boost our self-con­fi­dence.

Still, we of­ten feel empty in­side and end up be­ing ex­ploited by oth­ers. It wasn’t un­til re­cently when we both be­came aware that our “holes” were in­ter­nal and spir­i­tual, and thereby could not be fixed by stuff­ing our­selves with ex­ter­nal, ma­te­rial stuff.

Around this time, I lis­tened to an in­ter­view with my idol Amer­i­can mu­si­cian Tori Amos, a rape sur­vivor, on the im­por­tance of build­ing your in­ner-world in or­der not only to heal your wounds but also to sur­vive and thrive in this tough world.

In­ner-world con­struc­tion cen­ters around spir­i­tual growth, which, based on my un­der­stand­ing, can be achieved through many soul-en­rich­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, from read­ing, watch­ing art per­for­mances and open­ing one’s mind up to dif­fer­ent ways of spir­i­tu­al­ity to en­gag­ing in dis­cus­sion with wise and smart peo­ple.

I’ve been im­mers­ing my­self in these ac­tiv­i­ties in­tensely since 2012. A key de­ter­mi­nant, I have found, will then tell whether this in­ner-world con­struc­tion will come to fruition or not. That de­ter­mi­nant is what writer Joan Did­ion called “sel­f­re­spect”. I trans­late self-re­spect as the courage to look at one’s own dark side and weak­nesses while still hon­or­ing one’s strengths — to have a re­al­is­tic view of the self. Tough one, but af­ter four years, some things have started to shift for me. Good luck on our jour­ney to­ward heal­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Indonesia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.