Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Only Disability in Life is a Bad Attitude

Eat, Shop, Adapt.

I've written a lot about food and then some about shopping. But on adapting, I don't think I've written enough.

When I got married on December of last year, I didn't really know what to expect from married life and living abroad as a wife. But again, who does? Marriage, as I learned so far, is about growing together. It's about getting on each other's nerves. It's about showing your partner the things he can do better and getting feedbacks on how you can get better too. But it's not about changing him/her into another person, because, well, people don't change, but they do get better on other areas.

Marriage is about adapting to each other's antics, flaws and also strengths. Marriage is about discovering yourself and challenging yourself to a 24 hour teamwork. It's not always fun and games. Let's face it, your teammate is not always delightful and easy to work with, but hey, news flash, so are you, my dear.

It's crazy how much I learn about myself from being married to my husband. I remember my mom once said to me, "Being married is like constantly being forced to look in the mirror and seeing that you are not perfect." I've always known that I'm not perfect, but how I lack in perfection? Now, that part I didn't know.

It was probably a week or so ago that my husband's comments stroke me hard. We were in the middle of a discussion and he was bombarding me with question after question about what I do on daily basis, when he was at work. I usually could get away with, "I worked on some writing projects from Jakarta." But lately I'm not getting a lot of that. So I couldn't actually gave him a dignified answer. The things he said were on the spot. We've actually had this kind of discussion a number of time before, but me being stubborn quietly stayed in my old habits.

He pointed out that I was not doing anything with my life. It's like I at one point decided to stop, to quit, to just be uninspired and worse, uninspiring. I wasted my time watching TV, I systematically cleaned only parts of the house on areas that my husband noticed the most, I stopped reading books and learning new stuff, I even stopped writing. At first I was on my defensive mode, saying that he knew that I couldn't work in the US because I was not permitted to work. He answered that it was not about the money, it was not about me working. It was never about the money. It was about me, quitting. Worse, I looked like I was quitting on life. He then said, "You know the feeling when you see a man being without a sense of direction in life? A man without a goal, without a dream? Girls don't want to date those kind of men. Well, I got news for you, neither do men to girls who are simply clueless about her life." My man sure knows how to put it out there. It's always real with him. Especially when he feels like he has had enough of something. And at that time, he had had enough of my attitude toward life.

That night I finally stopped defending myself, because I then realized that he was not attacking me. He was simply reaching my hand and pulling me up from a hole that I didn't even know that I was in. I felt so ashamed, so humbled, so inspired.

My husband is a person who knows what he wants in life. He sets up goals. After he reaches the goal he was aiming, he then sets up another goal. He works hard to reach his goals, but at the same time he's enjoying himself in the process. He is my source of motivation. Do I feel overshadowed? Na-ah. We have our own paths. We intersect when we got married, but his thing is always his, and mine is always mine. I could only be his shadow if I let myself to be.

And Lord knows how much he inspired me that night. After my tears stopped I got to contemplate. By that time my husband was already asleep. I couldn't sleep. Thoughts after thoughts ran through my head like nobody else's business. I've been feeding myself with nonsense and excuses. Excuses that could let myself of the hook from the guilty feeling of not doing anything. "Those excuses are lame," I said to myself. Who gave me the permission to be a couch potato? Who gave me the permission to not do something meaningful with my life? Who gave me the permission to waste precious time, the abundant talents and passion I have in me? Stupid me gave that permission. I should be banned from making such decisions. I was a hazard to myself.

Being in bed that night, lights and TV off, husband comfortably enjoying his dreams, I carefully analyze the things I had going in my life before I was here and while I was here. The one good thing I enjoy doing more than anything back in Jakarta and until this very day is writing. Lately, though, I have to admit that I have been feeling really uninspired. So that night, I knew that writing was the thing I had to start doing again. I mean to really write and make something out of it, to be brave enough to show it to anyone who can read and eventually get it published. I have to be always inspired, thus I need to be mindful about everything. Because everything and anything can be an inspiration.

I then got to thinking about an activity that I had been doing quite consistently for almost 4 months now; yoga. Fortunately, as a spouse to my husband, I also get the privilege to use the wellness center facility at his office and every week the place hold two hatha yoga classes. I've been coming to the Thursday class religiously. I kept coming because it's the one and only activity that I look forward the most in the whole week. I always feel uplifted and excited about everything after the class.

At one point I started feeling that I wanted more. The class only lasted for 50 minutes tops and I began to feel that being held in a work place, the class is designed to fit the employees' schedules, thus very "instant". I, on the other hand, have all the time in the world and I craved for more. So I started looking for yoga classes near home. I found a few, but not the kind of yoga that I was looking for. Bikram yoga is very "in" right now. It is a series of yoga poses practiced in a very hot room. So you'll sweat like crazy. You can find that class easily here in America, but I want hatha yoga. The poses are practically similar to bikram, only it is not practiced in a hot room and it's more meditative. Students are expected to acknowledge their movements and their body. I need that mindfulness. I want to be present and I am hoping that yoga will bring me to that state.

After not finding the yoga that suits me on the internet, I turned to my yoga instructor at my husband's office. She then told me that I should come to a class that she did every Sunday morning.  It was an advanced hatha yoga class, led by a 71 year old woman who also taught at my husbands office. According to my yoga instructor the class was great, lasted for 2,5 hours and much more challenging. It was a 20 minute drive from my place and started at 9 AM, but I gave it a try anyway.

Last Sunday was my second class. I love it. I have to admit though that I am still in that "competitive" state where I am dying to prove that I can do all of those crazy poses, but in that process I also got the silent part of trying to do the poses, concentrating and being mindful to my body and mind. That was when it became perfect; I suddenly concentrated and reaching goals. Mini goals of trying to put my leg up there somewhere or stretching like I was still that 9 year old girl doing ballet. Slowly and patiently, I take my mind back to the present time every time it went astray. I am starting to get excited about life, about living and things around me. I started to feel genuinely.... happy.

I dare say that yoga has saved me. I am not a religious person, but in yoga I find a sense of closeness to the universe, to my whole being. To God, if you will. I might sound crazy to you, but that is exactly how I feel. And I am not planning to give it up. I finally found something that makes me happy and moving and wanting to move.

So this is a step. A small step maybe, but still a step. I used to get offended when my husband said things about the house being everything else but clean and tidy. That he actually was putting me in the position of a wife whose main duty was cleaning the house. My ego was hurt. I then disconnected myself with the house, thinking that me looking after it was feeding his male ego. I know now, I was feeding my own ego and no one else's. To live cleanly and tidily is a good way of living. It lifts up your whole mood. You care more, you love more. Now I clean the house better. I treat it as a home now. As our home, a place where we can all feel safe and happy, not just as a house.

I am also trying hard to stop feeding myself with bullshit. You know, about how sad I am being away from my family and friends, or about how I can't do anything because of this and that, or blaming any situation that I am in for that matter. Situation doesn't change, but I can. My yoga instructor wore a very interesting t-shirt last Sunday. On the back it read: "The only disability in life is a bad attitude - Scott Hamilton". And how that is so true.

Cheers to life and a husband that has consistently giving me perfect kicks in the butt.

"Sit in a straight posture, and the first thing to do is to send a current of holy thought to all creation. Mentally repeat, "Let all beings be happy; let all beings be peaceful; let all beings be blissful." So do to the east, south, north and west. The more you do that the better you will feel yourself. You will find at last that the easiest way to make ourselves healthy is to see that others are healthy, and the easiest way to make ourselves happy is to see that others are happy. After doing that, those who believe in God should pray — not for money, not for health, nor for heaven; pray for knowledge and light; every other prayer is selfish. Then the next thing to do is to think of your own body, and see that it is strong and healthy; it is the best instrument you have. Think of it as being as strong as adamant, and that with the help of this body you will cross the ocean of life. Freedom is never to be reached by the weak. Throw away all weakness. Tell your body that it is strong, tell your mind that it is strong, and have unbounded faith and hope in yourself." - Raja Yoga 


Andini Haryani


  1. your writings have inspired me much already, in my present and future life :)
    btw din, ada rekomendasi klo mau ikut hatha yoga di jakarta itu yg ok dmana ya? thx

  2. Hi Mel! Thank you so much! Gue kurang tahu hatha yoga di Jakarta ada di mana, Mel. Mungkin bisa dicari ke ke Kedutaan Besar India. Setahu gw mereka ada kelas yoga di sana.