While watching the photocopy machine glows and releases papers in the office, I let my mind wander to a conversation happened a few weeks ago. A friend of mine, who grows up in Jakarta and now lives in Pare with his family due to work assignment, told me, “I like living here. It feels like I do actually have time.”
I smile. I know what he means and I can relate to that. I personally think Jakarta is an anomaly in the country. It is just different. It is busy. The lights on its skyscrapers are on all night. Its people start their activity before dawn and miss the falling dusk on their way home. It does not give its citizen time to slow down.
I myself do not grow up in Jakarta. I was born in this city, indeed, and I had been going to Jakarta every year for Lebaran since my grandmother lived here, but I did not live here. Before moving here, I only recognized the city in Lebaran time, which meant it was the most quiet time in Jakarta for the year. It was the only face of the city I knew. Imagine what I have to face the moment I actually live in the city. The crowds. The traffic jams. The trains. The buses. The pace of life in this city, versus the pace of people walking in streets. The lack of time.
This sublime city never sleeps. It feels like it gives permission to its people to not sleep either, to be up twenty four hours a day. Last year, when I was still in the college, continuing my study for Bachelor’s degree, I was the busiest person I had ever been. I lived in the suburban, but I took a French class in the downtown. I attended events. I participated in many things I wanted to. I would meet people I needed to see, no matter where or when they asked me to meet. I went back and forth from home to everywhere. I’d been losing sleep, but I did not care. I had no brakes. This city opened the door to almost every possibility, to do everything I wanted to, to live the life to the fullest. This wonderful city forced me to be restless. If I rest, I’ll run behind schedule, and THAT is not ‘fullest’.
But then I decide to stop.
I look back and realize that even though I was happy because I finally became a person who actually did what she wanted to do, I was also a person who ran all the time. I rarely stayed at one place for more than I planned to; I already knew exactly where I should be at the next hour. Wandering around in Jakarta takes more time than it should due to traffic jam and not-reliable public transportation, making people like me worship time much more than we do in another cities. I do not want to run. I want to have slower time. I want to stay longer with people I like. I want to eat and have chit-chat with the friends I have. I want to have more cups of coffee while talking about silly ideas. I want to sit in silence with my boyfriend without having to think about what to do next. I want to spend my time gazing at the sky without having to worry of being late. I do not want to be 100-percent efficient. Well, technically I can’t, I am a person after all.
I want to be present.
So I try to. I switch my priorities. Valuing more time with my family and boyfriend, I restrict my time with the others. I concentrate on actually living in the moment, being more mindful when I am doing things, no matter how mundane that is. I try to have less social media time. I walk in normal pace. I eat better. I exercise. I do small talk. I lead a completely different routine from what I used to have. I am still adapting. What surprises me is that the hardest part of doing this is not comparing my life to other people’s lives, but comparing my life to my own previous busy life. It is hard to see–and feel–like I am less than who I was, while the other side of me tells me that I am not; that this is a right thing to do, that I need to slow down and eventually enjoy the time.
I honestly do love Jakarta with all of its uproarious routine. It is not hard to adapt with a glamorous city full of various activities to try for a Sagittarian like me. Deep inside, I love being busy, it makes me feel like I have spent my time well. But still, in the end, life is much more than just boxes to tick.
Adapting and adapting,
*Pare is a town in Kediri regency, East Java.