Upon Reading “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Every society, in every culture, despite the differences, have one idealism of how one should live his/her life: grow up, get a spouse, get married, and have children.

Kinda reminds me of a quote I once made:

There are many ways to say hello and goodbye. Surprisingly, there’s only one way to have sex.

Well, okay, we might have a little variations here, but you get the idea. You know what I meant.

In Indonesia, it is a paradigm one’s having (and carrying) the moment he/she got out of his/her mom’s womb.

I’ve heard a saying (or perhaps a ‘judgement’?) that the less educated someone is, the younger he/she is most likely to get married.

I’m a little in between here.

I did, saw less-educated people are married at a very young age, and are likely to have lots of kids, despite the fact that their financial situation might not be able to support all the family members to prosper (schools, food, daily necessities, etc etc).

Which ALWAYS raise a question for me (not aloud, of course). These people are poor, and they knew that by heart. Sure, they might as well know, additional family members will make them even poorer, and sure they know that even if the child happen to be an ‘accident,’ they might not even able to support him/her financially. In the end, they would complaint how poor they were, how little they give to the child, and how they feel sorry for the child and themselves. So a question pop out of my head: “So why the hell did you make kids in the first place?”

A friend of mine complaint about how little he has financially, yet he decided to get married anyway, but then he ended up feeling sorry for he cannot support his wife financially, and felt ashamed of how little he could give to his wife, and his complaint was still the same, even after he got married (and got kids! Imagine that!)

Which brings me a similar question: “Why did you get married in the first place?”

I’m not opposing to the idea of marriage and having kids, I just thought that those two matters should be thought through thoroughly.

Okay, Indonesia might not be a first world modern and sophisticated country. We know that. Especially considering the number of uneducated people here. But compared to what I’ve seen in the news, what I’ve read in books, novels, magazines and newspapers, I think I can still proudly say that Indonesia is quite a modern country, with open-minded people, and there are also lots of people who are well-educated. Long story made short: we do belong in the modern era.

I’ve met people who’s so damn smart, who had traveled around the world, and reached the peak of their careers. Still, it doesn’t changed the traditional ideology planted below our sub-conscious ever since we were kids, brainwashed: grow up, get married, and have kids. Pramoedya Ananta Toer also mentioned this in one of his Buru Quartet (I forgot which book, but I guess it’s in either the first or the second book), saying:

“Dahulu, nenek moyangmu selalu mengajarkan, tidak ada yang lebih sederhana daripada hidup: lahir, makan-minum, tumbuh, beranak-pinak dan berbuat kebajikan.” ~Bunda (ibu Minke)

Translated into English, those words mean: “Long ago, your ancestors always told us that there is nothing simpler than life itself: to get out of your mother’s womb, to eat and to drink, to grow up, to have kids, and to do good.” That’s it. However, the modernization brought by Western people (a.k.a. the Dutch and other Europeans) has made more and more people now competing for better education, and to gain more and more knowledge, and in fact, is the the one reason why human beings are never satisfied.

Hmmm. Now I’m confused.

So what? Should we stop pursuing knowledge>

Or maybe that’s not what Pram meant?

Maybe I misinterpreted?

Because from what I’ve seen, those people who worked their butts off, in order to gain knowledge, then go around the world to find that fountain of wisdom, are in fact still deeply rooted to that basic principles of a simple life: grow up, get married, and have kids.


So I wrote down that note while I was waiting for a friend in Eat & Eat, and when I showed this to him when he finally showed up, he asked me,

“So what’s the right way to live according to you?”

“Huh? There’s no such thing as right or wrong when it comes to life. Especially in how we should live our life,” I answered.


Strike one.

What do I want to say exactly here, actually?

Do I sound like criticizing here? Or worse, scolding?

That is definitely not what I meant.

So I told him,

“I just thought that those things have seem to become a guidelines of life that should be followed now. Grow up, get married, and have kids. That’s life. It has rooted deeply in our brains that it seems if we’re missing one or two of those elements, say, we don’t want to have kids, or maybe we want to be homosex, or even bisex, or we just want to be single for the rest of our life, people seem to view it as abnormal. Because it’s unusual, based on those guidelines.

“But let’s assume that we don’t have those guideline. People doesn’t have the paradigm of how we should live our life. Would they still view the ‘abnormal’ as abnormal? Would they still binded to the idea that life should be ‘normal’?”

Yea, maybe I’m criticizing.

I’m just trying to imagine, what might happen if we don’t have such guidelines. Would people have more room to explore themselves then?

Yea, I’m wondering.

Excuse me, this is just one big issue, especially in where I live right now.

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