From going on a cruise to living in an ashram for a week, I crossed 8 more things off of my list this year.
In 2012, I published my 100-list: a random list of 100 things I’d like to do or experience in life. Some of the things I listed down there had been on my wish-list since I was still a teenage girl, while some others had been jotted down quite recently. I revisit my 100-list every year-end to see how far I’ve come, how many things I’ve crossed off, and what are the next things I can pursue.
I also feel like I’ve changed a bit (or even a lot) throughout the years, and it’s only natural that the things that once excited me didn’t excite me any longer–or vice versa. So, each year, apart from leaving the crossed-off list intact, I also examine the rest of my list to see if I want to alter one wish for another.
Last year, I published a post about the things I’ve crossed off of my list in 2015, which got featured by WordPress’ Discover and received loads of comments and emails about people wanting to do the same. I can’t be happier!
Why I’m Keeping My 100-List.
I keep my 100-list because these random (and somewhat silly) things reminded me of how, as a child, I looked at the world every single day with wonder and amazement. Of how I imagined a future of my own, without thinking about what’s possible or what’s impossible. Of how I believed that wishes–no matter how odd, could actually come true.
Climbing a tree, for instance, is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. It is indeed such a childish and simple wish. However, seeing this particular wish has never failed to remind me of that childhood thirst: to wonder, to dream, to imagine, to experience something new, to venture to the unknown.
The 8 Things I Crossed Off of My List in 2016:
Until today, I have crossed 50 things off of my list (50 more to go!), and these are some of the things I managed to cross off of my list in 2016 (in no particular order):
ONE: Learning how to
swim float in the sea
We were at the famous Pink Beach in Flores, when I admitted to my friend, Ramon, that I had this certain ‘fear’ of swimming in the sea. I am not a good swimmer, and I just learned how to float in a swimming pool two years ago. So, I am still a nervous swimmer in a swimming pool, let alone in the sea–although I love snorkeling (with a life vest on).
“Well, let’s face your fear, then,” said Ramon. “Just trust that if you spread yourself like a starfish in the water, you’ll float. Let’s do this,” he handed me the snorkeling gear. “Just spread yourself like a starfish and surrender. Stay calm. Do not even try to swim. You’ll float. I am here. And the water is only as high as our waists, so you won’t drown.”
So, I tried several times to beat my fear. To not try to swim. To not panicking. To just breathing calmly and spreading my arms and legs like a starfish. After around an excruciating half an hour, I floated. My head was underwater, but the snorkeling gear helped me to breathe. I remembered the breathing exercise in my yoga practice and tried to breathe as calmly as I could.
I saw the fish swimming underneath, I heard nothing but my own breath.
I surrender, and I float.
A few months ago in Raja Ampat, I swam in the sea (a bit more confidently than before), and manage to float on my back, just floating mindlessly while looking at the cloudy sky. And helped a dear friend to float in the sea, and he swam for the very first time there.
It’s a full circle.
TWO: Going on a cruise.
In mid-2014, I stopped in Bulukumba during a work trip in Sulawesi and amazed by rows and rows of almost-finished Phinisi boats by the coast.
A Phinisi is a traditional Indonesian sailing ship, characterized by its two masts and seven sails of different sizes. The boat is built traditionally, following the Bugis-Makassar design, involving 4-6 skilled workers per boat. No metals are used to make the boat–only bent ironwoods. A sacred ritual is performed before a boat is made and before it is launched to the sea. It is also said that the builders working on the boat must be kept happy–since sadness or grudges when building the boat might compromise its safety.
I was invited to sit and have some tea by one of the Phinisi builders, who told me that they were building cruise ships. Most of their customers are French. The builder shared some designs of the boats they were working on: the bedroom, the kitchen, the living room, the deck…
I dreamed of cruising the vast ocean in one of those majestic Phinisi boats, of sun-bathing on its deck, of sleeping in its stylish cabin.
Who would have known that last year, I was invited on a trip that didn’t put a Phinisi cruise on the itinerary in the first place; but due to some circumstances, I ended up cruising with a Phinisi ship around the Flores Sea!
To stay on a boat for 2 days and 1 night was definitely the highlight of my 2016! I decided to ditch the comfortable bed inside the cabin and slept on the deck; feeling the night breeze and waking up to the twinkling stars.
I dreamed about being a botanist in the 18th century, having a year-long journey on an explorer’s ship, trying to find medicinal plants in the Far East.
THREE: Colouring my hair ‘pink’.
When I was in college, PINK was my girl-crush and I embraced all of her songs by heart. Probably this is the reason why I have always wanted to color my hair pink. I couldn’t do this when I was still working in a consultancy (and hoping that my corporate clients could take me seriously), so one of the things I’d like to do when I went independent was to dye my hair pink.
I went to a hair salon; but after 4 times of bleaching, my hair refused to be ‘white’. I couldn’t stand more hours sitting in a salon, smelling bleach solutions, and exposing my scalp to this chemical thing, so I said: “OK. Forget about pink. What color can I get right now, without more bleaching?”
The hairstylist told me that bright violet will do. So that was what I got: bright violet hair instead of pink. But I thought it’s time to cross this one off my list. Like, pink and bright violet, what’s the difference, right? 😛
FOUR: Learning basic Italian.
One of my favorite writers, Jhumpa Lahiri, moved to Italy from the US. She wanted to immerse herself in the Italian language by only speaking and writing in Italian. Recently, she published a book about the experience, in Italian. I wanted to learn the language because of this. Apart from that, my boyfriend is Italian. So, I guess, this makes sense!
FIVE: Climbing a tree.
Okay, so I didn’t really ‘climb’ a tree. But the last time I was in Ubud, Bali, I had a short trip to Bedugul Botanical Garden for an adventurous afternoon in Bali Tree Top Park. Basically, it’s an adventure park in the midst of the lush canopy of green, where you can climb, jump, and swing from tree to tree, around 2 – 20 meters high above the ground (you can choose your ‘circuit’ based on your adrenaline pump).
I won’t call myself physically adventurous, but I have to say that I enjoyed this experience more than I thought I would. It was one of those moments when I had pushed myself out of my comfort zone and realized that it wasn’t so bad after all (although it involved screaming and huffing and being pale)!
SIX: Coming back to a European city I once visited.
I am back in Amsterdam, in winter. For those people who know me well, they know I am the type of person who will switch off the air conditioner in her hotel room; even in hot ‘spots’ like Jakarta or Ubud. I love the sun. I love hot weather, and I can take more heat than I could the cold.
The last time I visited Amsterdam was in 2015, during summer–and even then, the city gave me some cold rain showers. So, I was nervous about my winter trip, plus it was 3°C as I landed.
For the next 2 days, even inside a house with a heater blaring at 20°C, I was covered in a few layers of clothes, winter coats, and blankets. On the third day, my body must have adjusted to the cold somehow (or I’ve eaten enough fatty foods!) but the cold didn’t bother me as much. I was at home in shorts and tank tops ever since. (I’ve found a great indie second-hand bookshop as well when it was 0°C outside, but that would go for another post!).
SEVEN: Live in an ashram/monastery for a week.
It was not a real ashram or monastery, but I went to a week of silent retreat in the mountains. We woke up at 4 in the morning every day and did around 5 hours of sitting meditation per day (apart from doing physical exercise and listening to spiritual guidance). During the whole week, we were not allowed to talk (to others and to ourselves), sing/whistle, nor to read or write. We were not allowed to watch TV, listen to radios, or looking at our phones (phones and wallets were confiscated before the retreat started).
Basically, it was just me and my thoughts. Without external disturbances, I felt as if my senses were heightened. I was more sensitive to listen to what my body is trying to say. My mind was clear. I was reconnected with myself.
I imagined this was how living in an ashram/monastery would feel and look like, so I decided to cross this off of my list.
EIGHT: Publishing an illustrated children’s book.
Okay, not many people knew this, not even my closest friends. But a few years ago, I went to Alor Island with a friend to read some stories to the kids there. Not only reading to them, but I also decided to ask them to write stories about their lives. So, under the candlelight (electricity is scarce), they wrote their stories and read them aloud afterward.
Based on some of these stories, combined with my own imagination, I developed some short stories about the life of the kids in Alor–then I sent it out to my friend. She loved it and told me that she wanted to have them illustrated, printed, and shipped back to the kids of Alor.
A few months ago, she told me that the book was republished and sold in the biggest chain of bookstores in the country, Gramedia. It is an illustrated storybook called Kisah dari Alor (Stories from Alor). I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t expect the stories to go ‘so far’.
I wish I could have written the stories better, to shape it better, to perfect it a bit… but then I realized that an imperfect work being sent out to the world is better than a perfect work that is never completed!
What about you? Do you have your 100-list, too? Are there some dreams or wishes from your childhood that are still close to your heart until today?