News and Events·
Other Jung Socs.
Life Experiences – Potential Compost for
a Creative Life
Van de Graaff (2019)
Kumpulan (Orang) (Gathering
7&8 November 2009, in Buderim,
This Kumpulan was
organised by the management team in Queensland producing the ‘Bambu’
This bi-monthly booklet, published in
English/Dutch/Indonesian and Petjo (a type of pidgin Dutch/Indonesian),
has stories of interest for anyone with an Indonesian connection.
Editor/Distributor: Andreas Flach Ph
07 5477 0104/
recognition in those faces, wrinkled brown and white, a kindredness with
the still gaze, like those in the old photos on display of a bygone era,
of tempo doeloe(),
die oude tijd’, a kind of sweet underlying sorrow or puzzlement for
something lost, a longing for something ill-defined, knowing it is out
of reach, words long forgotten skip out of songs,
boelan, boeroeng kakatoea’, out of casual remarks by me, by Dutch
comedienne Wieteke, words often understood only by initiates
whose memory cells sounds and smells of a bygone era have been indelibly
printed and easily triggered by a whiff of smoke,
casual remark, a tune, a taste.
I felt absorbed in
that rich sea of emotions, with flashes of smells, sounds and sights of
memorable pre-and post-war childhood moments on Java.
I also reflected on what must have been
the momentous impact for my parents of having to leave what had always
been home for them.
trying to rebuild a life in Holland, they decided, two years later, to
migrate to Australia, with five children and the sixth on the way.
My wife’s parents
also migrated from Holland in a crowded ship, with their eight children
and the ninth on the way.
Thinking about that
migrant experience, I recalled Julian Short’s words that,
human beings we have only two primary emotional needs: we need Belonging
and we need Territory’ (‘An
Intelligent Life’, Random House, Aus 2005)
belonging starts with the country of birth, with family members, and
clubs, schools, etc.
All these and one’s home have to be
replaced in the new country.
A traumatic experience for all, and
especially so for the adults, as children learn language and adapt to
the culture more easily.
I think that many men also faced a
significant challenge in coping with non-acceptance of qualifications
and loss of status.
It was a
challenge my parents dealt with successfully, in what they eventually
felt to be ‘The Lucky Country’, their new home.
‘Kassian “die oude tijd”’, (feeling sorry
that the old times are gone) requires skipping over disturbing memories
of war and displacement.
However, nostalgia is part of the rich
mix of life experiences, which is potential compost for those with
curiosity, for a creative life, for being open to incidents and
co-incidences that lead to new insights.
the backdrop of a vague bitter-sweet longing the restless soul may seek
an outlet, such as researching, writing, painting, acting, etc. to give
expression to this restlessness and through this perhaps gain solace,
acceptance that the present, the Now, can be joyful, fulfilling.
Blessed the Gene, or
ancestral thread connecting us to creative spirits in the past, or that
lucky encounter revealing unexpected talents within ourselves, that
inspire us to fill life’s later years with continuing curiosity and the
ability to express insights, reminiscences or practise new-found skills.
More than ever before, opportunities
for all these abound in our culture.
kasih atas “die oude tijd”’, (thanks for those old times) would be a
more appropriate sentiment for those who manage to focus on the positive
aspects of their life experiences.
Experiences gained by design or forced
on one, whether good or bad, short or long, with parcels of good
memories to be treasured, relived and savoured in later years, and the
bad ones not forgotten but relegated to a fading background.
extra ‘richness in experiences’ gained on life’s path is what Don Juan,
in Carlos Castaneda’s book ‘The teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui way of
knowledge’, looks for:
“For me there is only the travelling
on paths that have a heart.
There I travel, and the only
worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length.
And there I travel, looking, looking,
Recording Life Experiences
Giving expression to the positive aspects of
her life experiences is what my mother bequeathed to her descendants, in
the form of many written accounts, paintings, drawings and sculpture.
She also wrote about her family of
All of this material is for me an
invaluable source of information, as I have only a very hazy
recollection of early life experiences.
It is a rare gift, I
discovered, when talking about it with others in my advanced age group.
Their parents passed away without
leaving records, apart from photos, which are not very informative
without some added information.
records can now be accessed relatively easily, but they do not
necessarily impart the type of information my mother left her offspring.
My older cousin in
Melbourne performed a great service to the family with his extensive
work on ancestral records.
Over the years I have been jotting down
experiences and am now in the process of combining them chronologically.
It started off as a record for our son
and his family’s benefit, but I realise that of course it has
significant benefits for me as well.
It is a means of revisiting, re-living
and re-assessing those experiences, whether they be good or bad.
son is fully involved with a young family and his career, I expect that
my writing might be of interest only when he finds the time and
inclination in retirement.
My wife, with her
phenomenal memory, has also been writing about her experiences, and it
is her recollections of her family in Holland, prior to migration, that
has been of great interest to her younger siblings, the youngest having
been born in Australia.
also been creating wonderful, illustrated stories for our grandchildren.
We value our multi-cultural and linguistic
background in a country which has, over the years, increasingly accepted
and welcomed this diversity.
But ‘use it or lose it’ applies to
language as well, and my attempts at upgrading my proficiency in the
Indonesian language were unsuccessful, due to lack of use.
But my interest and love for this
country of more than 260 million on Australia’s doorstep, with enormous
potential and significance for Australia, remains.
I visited Indonesia
with our son, twenty years ago, for the first time since my birth family
had to leave it in 1949.
During our travels there I experienced
the effect of this country’s state ideology, which is called
‘Pancasila’, enshrining tolerance, pluralism and national unity.
An old Indonesian man even started
conversing in the Dutch language with me.
With the largest Muslim population in
the world, this tolerant society accepts Protestants, Catholics, Hindus
and Buddhists as part of the multi-cultural mix.
A small minority of fanatical
extremists distort the impression of Muslims, which has, perversely,
done more damage to Islam than any other mis-informed viewpoint.
Such extremists do not define the vast
majority of citizens in any country, which is applicable to white
supremacist extremists in Australia and elsewhere.
In reviewing our
life experiences, I want to quote from Anita Moorjani’s amazing
experience in her book ‘Dying
to be me, my journey from cancer to
near death to true healing’, p69.
“My experience was like a single thread
woven through the huge and complexly colourful images of an infinite
All the other threads and colours
represented my relationships, including every life I’d touched.
There were threads representing
my mother, my father, my brother, my husband, and every other person
who’d ever come into my life, whether they related to me in a positive
or negative way.
Every single encounter was woven
together to create the fabric that was the sum of my life up to this
I may have
been only one thread, yet I was integral to the overall finished
Doeloe – literally ‘in former times/in olden days, (approx 1880-1920)
refers to a period of increasing welfare and recognition that the duty
of the Dutch colonial power is to further the well-being of the
Also a time before increasing unrest
caused by the activities of nationalist Indonesian demands, led by
Sukarno, and later the invasion by the Japanese.