Where did that come from, Odino?

a journal in progress

Untitled, 2014

Untitled, 2014

Jan. 15, 2014 - A few days before the year 2013 ended, my boyfriend Odino accompanied our dear friend Astrid and her son Bhumy to Yogyakarta’s Imogiri area, to a Permaculture center called Bumi Langit. We have another good friend there; his name is Krisna. Not only is Krisna into Permaculture, he is also into arts. He plays music, he paints, and he makes batik using natural dyes. Just as well, for every Permaculture designer is an artist in their own respect.

That night, probably after drinking coffee, Krisna taught everyone how to paint using coffee dregs. I imagine he took out a brush made from one of his fathers’ cows’ hair and started dipping it in the moist, dark particles before turning them into line after line on a piece of paper. I also imagine how Odino became so fascinated by this, like a child finding out the key to a magic trick, that he ended up making images on tens of pages in his journal, a few of them in collaboration with six-year-old Bhumy.

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both Untitled, 2013

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Obviously, I wasn’t there. He showed me those naive but mostly bleak images consisting of strong, wide strokes after he’d come home. He then made his coffee and used the dregs to make more works. At this point it seemed like the child was yet to be weary of practicing the magic trick. But he hasn’t been. He’s used to key to create other tricks. He chewed on a satay stick to make a brush; our housemate Diba gave him sheets of paper; and he bought himself a set of watercolor pastes. He began to find the wonders of colors.

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Someone once said that Odino and I are like twin flames, each the reflection of the other. Now that Odino has accidentally fallen in love with painting, I can see why. I used to look for satisfaction in painting, only to discover that I could never keep it up. I know that one of my biggest passions is writing, or learning to write, namely to keep being awed at how language can create colors. In his own words, Odino wished he could write well. He created a number of blogs to practice. Once he’d had enough with one blog, he would start another one, and then another one, until he stopped. He has now found himself in awe at how colors, lines, and textures can create language.

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Odino and I have been living together for over a year now. I’m his first boyfriend. I have a lot of exes. But I guess that at the earliest stage of our relationship, we were both at that same level of getting used to the process of tightening and loosening the bond: to test how much it hurt, to be relieved when the pain dissipated. In that process, perhaps my boyfriend saw it as a game. At least that’s an interpretation from my side. You see, it was all too natural for him to make me confused with his words and actions, or the lack thereof. He still baffles and surprises me from time to time. In the very beginning, seen from one side, he seemed like a perfectly aligned Rubik’s cube. Soon it became apparent that all the other sides were jumbled up and I happened to be the only one around who would be utterly distraught should it be left unsolved. The twisting and turning began. The series of “Where did that (color) come from?!” was both frustrating and intriguing — all in all addictive.

Now, though, I see experiencing the game, the puzzle, the fun, the irritation, as taking part in life itself — the simultaneous inner and outer experiences that make one alive. It’s no longer just about pain or relief. It’s about living. Thus I’m grateful for the surprises that he keeps throwing my way to keep me going, such as the images that appear in his paintings. Every time I look at a new one, I can’t help but ask in silence: Where did that come from?

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both Untitled, 2013

both Untitled, 2013

both Untitled, 2013

both Untitled, 2013

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to be continued

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3 responses to “Where did that come from, Odino?

  1. Wow, thank you for your beautiful writings. Always so inspiring. I’m going to make a Kopi Tobruk today and try to paint with the dregs! Like you, I’m into permaculture and anarchist ideas. Like you, I’m a writer or at least an aspiring writer. I’m not gay, but “heteroflexible”. I live here in Australia with my partner, but we love visiting Indonesia when we can. We’ve travelled all over Java, and love Jogja especially. Do you know any good Permaculture Design Courses in Indonesia we could do? So far, we’re just self-taught. Anyway, just wanted to say hi and let you know how much I appreciate your writings. Keep it up =)

    • Hi, Pablo. Thank you for the appreciation. I myself don’t want to take any Permaculture design courses, with my own reasons and, perhaps, excuses. But there are usually several PDCs in Bali each year. Not regular, but notifications about them often popped up on my Facebook whenever there is one. I’ll let you know should I hear anything. Or, if you like, you can visit my friend’s eco-neighborhood in Petanu, near Ubud. They have an eco-farm over there too, and a lot of what I have learnt about Permaculture came from hanging out with the folks who manage the place. And of course there is Bumi Langit in Jogja. Several people have taken a “live-in” course there to learn about Permaculture. Let me know when you’re in the neighborhood!

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