I am living in Indonesia for almost 8 months now and during this time I had the chance to connect more and more with nature. I live in an urban area, the Special District of Yogyakarta, but in an area where rice fields are reachable in a 5 minutes walk. Actually, Indonesian houses, even in the cities, used to be surrounded by a lot of nature, having each their own jackfruit, banana, mango trees and maybe a small rice field hidden in the back of the house. But now things are changing. Concrete is making its way in every neighborhood for facilitating transportation, primarily by motorbikes, and people have started selling their land to support their urban lifestyle which requires owning a car and a motorbike.. or several motorbikes, one for which member of the family.
I am not saying that urban development is good or bad, what I am trying to say is that it’s important to plan and think carefully about this kind of development. Just as an idea, the cities of Indonesia are designed for motorbikes than for pedestrians. Of course, the heat during the day is a serious argument for this kind of approach. But the street flooding after heavy raining show that the sewage system hasn’t been too carefully thought of. But people here are very relaxed and easy-going and take everything as it comes, because whatever comes also goes, right?
Indonesians are rich when it comes to nature, but they don’t have any specific rules about preserving it, which leaves me the impression that they don’t care much about it. And you never know when this kind of attitude will backfire. Nature has given them so much! Especially in Java you cannot die of hunger, the soil is so fertile, ensuring at least 2 crops of rice per year, and the water is plenty. There are some high rocky areas that suffer from the lack of water. Also, not all water can be used because of the pollution of some of it.
Besides these aspects, which can be found almost everywhere in the world in the present moment, I like other things that show the connection of Indonesians with the earth. Here, when you ask for directions, they always answer referring to the cardinal points: “first you go north about a kilometer, then you turn to East etc…”. They don’t have house numbers on streets, but they refer to where places are directly by saying the kilometers. You can see them walking a lot bare footed. When you enter someone’s house, or a special outdoor exhibition place such as a pendopo, you are always asked to take off your shoes. There are actually a lot of places where you are asked to take off your shoes, even in some stores. At home, even in the yard or even in the public space in the villages people walk bare footed. Also, they like to sit on the ground a lot, rather than using chairs. There is even this type of evening/late night place to eat at called lesehan, which is by definition a place in which you sit on a rug pulled over the ground, most of the times really close to the road.
Now I believe that nature is utterly intelligent! Nature supports and is life itself and life cannot be stopped! Just as in the first photo above, there is a crack in everything, even in concrete … that’s how the light gets in.
It seems that everywhere in the world people have lost contact with nature and they live more and more based on the rules of society that they have created themselves, independent from nature.
But there is so much to learn if we turn our attention back to nature:
- We can learn that everything functions in cycles, that everything comes and goes, all is impermanence. And this applies to our bodies, moods and feelings as well. So we could learn to be gentle with ourselves and give us time and care when going to “down” phases
- We can learn to predict the weather by ourselves, by just looking at the signs of nature
- We can predict the next volcanic eruption
- We can learn how to grow our children and what to teach them
What I do daily is to lift up my head, look around me and be amazed of what I see. Nature has its own way! Way smarter than ours. I am grateful for the support we receive from it every day.. How about you, what do you do when it comes to nature?
And last but not least, a series of photos to reflect upon:
‘I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something created by nature we call it progress.’ Ed Begley, Jr.