Preface: Portugal, Spain, Pessoa, and Hope

Sebenarnya udah lama saya enggak sabar pengen cerita tentang perjalanan saya dan Bunda ke Portugal dan Spanyol di awal tahun ini. Tapi saya tahan karena belum selesai membahas semua kota ketika melakukan trip bersama adik saya. Maklum, saya tipe orang yang kalau udah memulai harus mengakhiri juga. Jadi rasanya gregetan memulai cerita tentang perjalanan ini tanpa membereskan kota - kota sebelumnya. Padahal setiap kali mengingat akan membahas trip ini, ada bagian dari hati saya yang sedikit melompat, sama seperti yang saya rasakan ketika naik wahana kora - kora di Dufan, sambil duduk paling atas dengan kondisi perahu sedang turun ke bawah. Sebuah perasaan yang selalu saya rasakan ketika mengingat perjalanan yang saya lakukan di saat saya berada dalam kondisi yang lebih vulnerable. Kali itu, saya sedang rentan karena sedang di tengah kondisi pemulihan dari depresi yang sempat saya alami sejak beberapa bulan sebelumnya. Dan entah bagaimana caranya, melakukan perjalanan ke tempat yang baru hampir selalu bisa menguatkan diri saya. Mungkin dengan menyadarkan saya akan hal - hal tertentu yang mungkin telah saya lupakan dengan cara sesederhana melihat dan merasakan sesuatu yang belum pernah saya dapatkan sebelumnya. Biasanya saya bisa menikmati perjalanan 'pemulihan' ini seorang diri. Tapi kali itu, saya benar - benar enggak bisa membayangkan diri saya untuk menghabiskan waktu seorang diri di belahan bumi yang sepenuhnya baru bagi saya selama berhari - hari. Dan saya bersyukur melakukan perjalanan ini bersama Bunda; yang ternyata memang menjadi langkah yang paling tepat. Karena yang saya ingat setelah itu hanyalah hari - hari saya yang semakin membaik.

Oh iya, membicarakan trip ke Portugal dan Spanyol belum lengkap tanpa Fernando Pessoa. Ketika sedang menyortir foto - foto yang saya ambil selama perjalanan, ada beberapa foto yang menjadi favorit saya. Setiap dari mereka memiliki kesamaan, yaitu kurang lebih menunjukkan hubungan antara individual dengan kota mereka; baik Porto, Lisbon, Seville maupun Cordoba. Meski terdapat berbagai macam suasana dan ekspresi, serta persepsi berbeda yang muncul; melihat semua foto tersebut langsung mengingatkan saya akan puisi dan prosa oleh Pessoa yang ia tulis di The Book of Disquiet. Entah karena setengah perjalanan ini saya ditemani dengan buku yang setiap tulisannya melibatkan perasaan yang sangat mendalam. Entah karena buku ini sebagian besar temanya terkait dengan depression dan anxiety, yang di kala itu membuat saya seperti merasa ada teman seperjuangan yang bisa memahami apa yang saya rasakan; namun dalam waktu yang bersamaan, Pessoa juga mengungkapkan adanya harapan - harapan baru dalam setiap kondisi yang kelam. Entah karena di buku ini begitu banyak perasaan yang diungkapkan melalui hal - hal yang ada di dalam suatu kota; jalan, tram, pakaian yang menggantung di beranda; yang semuanya itu menjadi salah satu objek foto paling menarik bagi saya. Untuk itu, di setiap foto dalam postingan ini saya cantumkan potongan puisi yang saya ambil dari buku Pessoa tersebut.

Everything that was ours, simply because it was once ours, even those things we merely chanced to live with or see on a daily basis, becomes part of us. It was not the office boy who left today for some place in Galicia unknown to me, it was a part, vital because both visual and human, of the very substance of my life.

The morning unfurls itself upon the city, interleaving light and shade amongst the houses. it does not seem to come from the sun but from the city itself, for the light issues forth from the city's walls and roofs, not from them physically but from the simple fact of their being there. As I fell that, I feel full of hope, at the same time recognising that hope is a purely literary feeling.  

Some say there's no life without hope, others that hope makes life meaningless. For me, bereft of both hope and despair, life is just a picture in which I am included but that I watch as if it were a play with no plot, performed merely to please the eye; an incoherent ballet, the stirring of leaves on a tree, clouds that change colour with the changing light, random networks of old streets in odd parts of the city.

I think what creates in me the deep sense I have of living out of step with others is the fact that most people think with their feelings whereas I feel with my thoughts. For the average man, to feel is to live, and to think is to know that one lives. for me, to think is to live, and to feel just provides food for thought. 

It was a time to be happy, yet something weighed on me, an obscure longing, an undefined but not entirely despicable desire. Perhaps it just took me time to accustom myself to the sensation of being alive. And, when I leaned out of the high window over the street I looked down at without seeing. I suddenly felt like one of those damp cloths used to clean grimy objects the house that get taken to the window to dry but instead are left there, screwed up on the sill that they slowly stain.

Be pure, not in order to be noble or strong, but to be oneself. If you give love, you lose love.

I'm riding a tram and, as is my habit, slowly absorbing every detail of the people around me. By 'detail' I mean things, voices, words. In the dress of the girl directly in front of me, for example... I sense the loves, the secrets, the souls of all those who worked just so that this woman in front of me on the tram should wear around her mortal neck... I leave the tram exhausted, like a sleepwalker, having lived a whole life.

May I always be blessed with the monotony, the dull sameness of identical days, my indistinguishable todays and yesterdays, so that I may enjoy with an open heart the fly that distracts me, drifting randomly past my eyes, the gust of laughter that wafts volubly up from the street somewhere down below, the sense of vast freedom when the office closes for the night, and the infinite rest of my days off.

Everything is absurd. One spends his life earning money which then he saves even though he has no children to leave it to nor any hope that a heaven somewhere will offer him a divine reward. Another puts all his efforts into becoming famous so that he will be remembered once he dead, yet he does not believe in a survival of the soul that would give him knowledge of that fame. Yet another wears himself out looking for things he doesn't even like.

I come to, look around at everything, full of life and ordinary humanity now, and I see that, apart from the patches of imperfect blue where it still lingers, the mist has cleared completely from the sky and seeped instead into my soul and into all things, into that part of them that touches my soul.

 Today, suddenly, I reached an absurd but unerring conclusion. in a moment of enlightenment, I realised that I'm nobody, absolutely nobody. I'm the outskirts of some non-existent town, the long-winded prologue to an unwritten book. I'm nobody, nobody. I don't know how to feel or think or love. I'm a character in a novel as yet unwritten, hovering in the air and undone before I've even existed, amongst the dreams of someone who never quiet managed to breathe into my life.

I had great ambitions and extravagant dreams, but so did the errand boy and the seamstress, for everyone has dreams; the only difference is whether or not we have the strength to fulfil them or a destiny that will fulfil them through us. When it comes to dreams, I'm no different from the errand boy and the seamstress. The only thing that distinguishes me from them is that I can write.

One should abandon all duties, even those not demanded of us, reject all cosy hearts, even those that are not our own, live on what is vague and vestigial, amongst the extravagant purples of madness and the false lace of imagined majesties... To be something that does not feel the weight of the rain outside, or the pain of inner emptiness.

If there is one thing that life gives us, apart from life itself, and for which we must thank the gods, it is the gift of not knowing ourselves; of not knowing ourselves and of not knowing one another. 


  1. Hi I'm your silent reader! Love the way you dress up and I like your stories, you have such a deep thought :)

    1. Hi, Gin! Thank you. I'm really glad to hear that :)


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