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Slowing down

I arrived to Jakarta a few days before our students. Late, as it was, little time was available for exploring and instead I meandered in a dreamlike stumble to my guesthouse where slowly, my body began to adjust to its new surroundings.

Slowly. This is a word that seems in modern times to be met with suspect. If you are not moving fast, if your schedule isn’t entirely packed to the brim, if you aren’t able to rise well before dawn, do an hour of yoga, meditate for at least 15 minutes, gather the eggs from the backyard chickens, have a hearty breakfast before coffee with a friend you will meet with for a nice conversation at the local roaster and then read a chapter or two of Michael Pollan’s new best seller, all before a short run and a shower that will lead into a day of work, work, work….. stop. You get the point.

It is amazing how privileged we are. And I don’t mean to say this as an effort to make the cliché, overused, yet entirely understandable, accurate and necessary jab at those of us (myself included) with enough resources and socioeconomic status to receive higher education, to eat well, to have a well-rounded schedule, to drink really good coffee, to contemplate things like this, to debate, to contemplate, to debate again (over good coffee), to contemplate, and of course, to travel. No. I mean it truly, in a way that should not bring shame or further confusion to these already confusing times, but rather I say this in an effort to ignite deep-seated gratitude and motivate genuinely joyful feelings of humble responsibility. And this responsibility, this “burden” as it has often been referred to, especially by those seeking to “serve” does not need to equate to the increasingly common over-glorification of “busy”. Yet more often than not, it does. When we travel however, we can see how others fill their time and how leaving spaces more open can actually allow for deeper insight, better health and ultimately, peace of mind.

Thus. I am moving slowly. I am deliberately paying attention to my body, mind and heart as I leave again the comforts and securities of my life back home. I am paying attention to how much I love my wife and hope she is currently safe and happy. I am observing how my body reacts to such jolting transitions, how my lungs are effected by new air, how my skin is responding to a brighter sun. And now that the students have fully arrived too (well, almost fully, many pieces of their heads and hearts are still at home with all of you, missing you… and missing bagels) we are all moving slowly. Our days are, to be sure, very full, with all the important workshops and exercises and lessons on language acquisition, Bridge Year orientation, Dragons’ approach to education, etc, but it is also filled with S P A C E….

There are so many distractions and pressures in the “modern world”. So much competition, so much noise. For now, we are rising slowly with the sun, with the singing of birds we have never heard before, with the sounds of wind on leaves, the call to prayer and the roosters chasing kittens. We are using our own two feet and legs to get us to where we need to go, by walking, and biking. We are opting to take a break from technology, to make music ourselves should we wish to hear some. We are getting comfortable with silence, with being with ourselves, with having less. And in so doing, we are recognizing so much more.

For now, please enjoy these photos of our time together in Indonesia:

Photo One: The group in front of our homestay house in Kedungmiri, where we spent our first two days of orientation getting over jet lag, playing gamelan, and taking our first visit to the village mosque.

Photo Two:  Imogiri market – a pit stop on our 2-day bike trip with our first language challenge – buy local snacks!

Photos Three, Four and Five:  Prambanan temple, a Hindu complex from the 9th century – a pit stop on our second day of our bike trip. Our students chatted with local university students who were practicing their English.

Photo Six: Enjoying coconuts before a dip at the Blue Lagoon – the final destination of our bike trip.