Lesson #6: “Sometimes, what makes you worry are the insignificant people, experience, or both that you allowed to occupy your mind. Like a toilet, have them and flush them.” 

On my first trip to Banda, I was mostly enjoying its history and how they were perceived by the outsiders. 

On this one, I seemed to go back to my ‘usual’ kind of trip: meeting and talking with people. Today was special, as I met with three emigrants who, liked it or not, decided to not only move to but live with the people and culture of Banda. 

And, as in anywhere else, it hasn’t always been rosy. 

Noises and signals

Among the many hilarious, giggling and eye-wrenching facts, there was a slither observation of how similar humans interacted with each other. 

Belgica Fort, seen from the narrow strait separating Banda Naira, Gunung Api and Banda Besar islands. Without a proper beacon, past sailors would easily miss spotting the fort. What’s your beacon in spotting signals from noises?

One of them was that most people we meet are noises. They could be white noises and purely disturbing noises. 

But these noises often come with emotionally-ridden interactions, making them difficult to distinguish, let alone detach with. 

So, without putting names, these three emigrants slowly uncovered that what they thought as signals in their life were turned out to be noises. 

There were business partners who kept on making excuses to social loaf, shifting more works but not sharing profits. 

There were kids who never really tried to grow up and, instead, wanted to permanently cling to an old tree until they both die. 

And there were colleagues who, for fake collegial reasons, eat away customers that should be fairly shared. 

Facilitating to identify noises

A stack of old luggage at The Nutmeg Tree. They can be decorative, or baggage from the past. What are yours?

Until we shared our coffee, pisang goreng, and sambal kenari, these three didn’t know that they’d seen noises. That their irresponsible business partners, spoiled kids, or greedy colleagues were far away from a true signal. Until they collectively realized they were conned by those people, over those years of shared experience. 

“That is probably why I kept worrying about our financials even when we made a huge profit at the end of the month,” explained one. 

Or, the other, “I didn’t realize this was a worry that kept over years, so subtle that I considered as business challenges.” 

From this dialogue, we – I – learned that people do come as both signals and noises. And if I can advise my younger self, it would be to train himself to detect, especially, those white noises.