Monthly Archives: June 2008

Signs and symbols

[Bahasa Indonesia]
I am a big believer in signs and symbols in life, signs and symbols of life. Life loves to drop us small–and not so small–hints on what we should learn and do.

Today, it says I am still not that good at reading those hints.

I was on my way to a friend’s place. I have never been there before. He was kind enough to email us the map. I studied it last night and carefully made a note.

Of course, this morning, I left my note at home. I only realized it when I was entering my friend’s area. Sigh. Typical me, I thought. Right, let’s be positive. So I continued driving and tried to picture the route.

I followed that mental picture. I stopped and looked at the block number of the house where I stopped my car. “W. It is supposed to be N,” I thought, “I should return to the main road.”

As I made my turn, I looked to the left. There were several cars there. “That must be it,” I said to myself (Looking back, I am not sure why I thought that). I went over. Sure enough, it was my friend’s place.

I reran that mental map again in my head. I realized where I went wrong.

I missed that small staggered arrow-like turn. I turned left (green line) instead of taking that small right before turning left.

I do that in life as well. I forget the note I have previously made so carefully. I put that stamp “typical me” again and again on everything I think, say or do, until it really does become a typical me. I miss those small staggering unnatural turns that I need to make before heading to where I really want to go.

I paused to read the paragraph above. I too am being hard on myself.

Granted. Let us be kinder to self. If I pay enough attention to what I am doing, I can have very clear mental picture. I contemplate. I do not get that upset when I make mistake (not anymore). I just think of the next step and move on. I trust my instinct a lot and it has saved me in various occasions.

Still, today life tells me that I am passing up those hints that it has so kindly blessed me with – out of impatience, ignorance, and ego.

The truth, that is why I am still missing many hints, signs, and symbols from you as well – out of impatience, ignorance, and ego. Please don’t give up on me.

Mr. Zero

[Bahasa Indonesia]
Last weekend was a good one, with family and friends. I received one special gift from a friend.

The friend is the husband of a sister-like friend. It was actually the first time that I met him. He heard about my upcoming trip and my story.

He said, “I will give you Mr. Zero. I have been saving one up for anybody whom I think would be suitable.”

He got off, left the room, and returned bringing this yellow doll with the black writing “Mr. Zero” and “0” on the tummy.

I smiled. I understood the message. The same message that another friend once conveyed to me several months back.

A lateral thinking process. To zero out. To live without holding on too tight to preconceived ideas. To be (totally) open minded. A huge challenge for idealistic folks such as I am.

I supposed this attitude is more explicit in Buddhism than in any other traditions. This zero out attitude is the basis for mindfulness, which Bhante Gunaratana has described in great length

Mindfulness is nonjudgmental observation. It is that ability of the mind to observe without preference, criticism, or judgment. One is surprised by nothing. One simply takes a balanced interest in things exactly as they are in their natural states. One does not decide and does not judge. One merely observes.

Mindfulness is mirror-thought. An impartial watchfulness. Non-conceptual awareness. Present-time awareness. Non-egotistic alertness. Awareness of change. Participatory observation.

Mindfulness actually sees things. It does not think about them. It registers experiences, but it does not compare them. It does not label them or categorize them. It just observes everything as if it were occurring for the first time. It is not analysis, which is based on reflection and memory.

Mindfulness sees them directly, as they are, the true nature of all phenomena. It reminds us of what we are supposed to be doing.

It reminds me of what I am supposed to be doing. What I am supposed to be learning. What I am supposed to be remembering.

“When you face difficult situations—or any situation for that matter—zero out. Return to Mr. Zero. He will be your best friend,” my friend said. I know he is right.

I smiled. I understood the message. Thank you.

Mengenang Miko Protonema

Apology to all non-Indonesian-speaking visitors. I am merely cutting and pasting from a friend’s email. Some things are worth supporting.

Konser amal “dari teman untuk teman”
untuk mengenang Miko Protonema
Jam 12.00, 30 Jun 2008 – jam 03.00, 1 Jul 2008
Fame Station Bandung

Konser amal “dari teman untuk teman”untuk mengenang Miko Protonema adalah sebuah kegiatan yang bertujuan untuk memperoleh dana guna memberikan sedikit bantuan kepada keluarga yang ditinggalkan berupa asuransi pendidikan untuk Fiko, anak yang ditinggalkan Miko.

Miko memang bukan siapa-siapa. Namun kepergiannya memberikan inspirasi kepada kami teman-temannya, mungkin inilah moment yang dapat mempersatukan dan mendorong kami (segelintir orang Bandung dari berbagai komunitas yang bersentuhan dengan dunia kreatif, pertunjukkan, dan pehobi motor) untuk bergerak, berbuat sesuatu, menggali potensi lebih optimal, lebih produktif, menuju masa depan Bandung yang lebih baik, dan berbagi untuk sesama. Bandung Bergerak! Jadi selain untuk charity, event ini juga diharapkan menjadi tonggak kebangkitan dan perekat kebersamaan berbagai komunitas Bandung.

Event yang akan diselenggarakan dari pukul 12.00 tanggal 30 Juni 2008 hingga 03.00 tanggal 1 Juli 2008 di Fame Station Bandung ini, insya Allah dapat terselenggara karena dukungan dari berbagai pihak. Diantaranya: IKA Unpad yang menyediakan asuransi pendidikan untuk Fiko, Harian Umum Pikiran Rakyat sebagai media partner, serta banyak media lainnya.

Para musisi yang telah menyatakan kesediaannya untuk hadir dan berpartisipasi dalam kegiatan ini antara lain: PAS Band, Syaharani, Java Jive, Baron cs, Yuke-Dewa & Friend, Jodi Bedjo, Gugum Project Pop, Rocket Rockers, Speaker First, The Panas Dalam, Alone At Last, 4 Peniti, Boy Are Toys, Dirty Doll, 70 Orgasm, Cuts, Nudist Island, Time Bomb Blues, Bubble, Blue Fairy, Good Boy Badminton, Fresh Milk, Experience, Glory Of Love, The Patrol, Bad Boy Blues, The Ababiels Attack, Roullette, Red Arses, Hopelane, D’Army, Cronik, M.a.l.i, Freaky Famous dan lain-lain.

Kegiatan charity ini diprakarsai oleh Joe P Project yang dibantu oleh PASS17, 86 Community, Naracipta Production, Independent Network Indonesia dan Forum Event Bandung, serta banyak pihak lain yang tidak tersebutkan satu per satu.


Rumah Musik Harry Roesli
Jl. Supratman 57 Bandung 40115
phone | fax 022 720 5890
mobile 0811 222 5678

event | talent | music | training
m a n a g e m e n t

June 22

[Bahasa Indonesia]
“What are you doing?”
“Come, sit here, I want to show you something.”
“This is the key to A, this one is the key to B. These are the documents for C while these are the documents for D. I keep them right here. Documents E I keep in the bank. This is the key to the safety box and the passkey is 123456.”
“Why are you telling me these? Are you going somewhere?”

That was a conversation I once had with my father. Several weeks after the conversation, his health deteriorated for about eight months until he passed away.

June 22 was my father’s birthday. Twenty-two was also my age when my father passed away. 22 divided by two, 11 (of June), is the day he passed away.

I wanted to use the words “when I lost him.” But that did not sound right. I have never lost my father. He is still with me every step of the way. So I chose the words “passed away” instead. He has passed this stage of life and moved on to another.

I have not lit a candle for a long time. This (early) morning, I lit one for you, pop. Bringing about all our memories and the lessons (and habits) you have ‘imposed’ on me.

Activeness. Positiveness. Cynical snappy witty remarks. Curiosity. Detailed annoying series of questions. Strange meaningful wordless smile. Humility. Love for nature. Love for books. Attention to details, and attentiveness to the people around us.

Being pragmatic and idealistic at the same time. Being straightforward. Daring to try something new (even if we are totally blank about it and can potentially humiliate ourselves).

Listening to other people without letting them dictate what we do. Doing things our way (Tradition. Why do we need to maintain them anyway? You once questioned. Typical you). Minding own business. Speaking only when necessary. Reading gesture and situation.

Allowing. Letting go. Walking through. Appreciating. Enjoying life. Relaxing. Praying. Living. Loving family, and loving mom.

Obviously I have not mastered them all, but, hey, I am learning.

I remember the times when we were not so keen on each other (Not so keen? That’s an understatement of the century.). Or rather, when I was not so keen on you. Then I thought, why bother. I knew it was a process. My process, and perhaps yours as well (or is that karma? :p). Still, I apologize if I have hurt you and mom.

Thank you (and mom and God) for helping me get where I am today, pop. Thank you for giving me the freedom to grow to be what I want to be. For allowing me to make mistakes and learn from them, while standing about two steps behind, watching, guarding, caring, loving.

I feel like I am entering a new phase of my life soon, pop. Stand by me, will you? It is a territory you know very well–much better than most people in my life do.

Persona: Tita!

[Bahasa Indonesia]
(Anybody who knows me knows that I am not the biggest fan of exclamation mark. So this must be pretty special).

Kompas dailies. Today. Page 11. “Buku” column.

I just want to say how proud I am to see a review about a book a friend has written (or drawn/sketched). I know she keeps a comic diary. I had the pleasure to read them quite some time ago. And I am ecstatic to know that she has finally managed to publish it.

This enormously gifted high school friend of mine is special for so many reasons. Among them, one, everybody—and I mean everybody—can see how gifted she is as a graphic artist.

Two, she is kind and idealistic beyond comprehension, and somehow manage to live with such belief. Three, the most laid back witty person/friend/wife/mom/lecturer I have ever encountered.

Tita is a wife, a mother of two, a lecturer in Bandung with a passion on sustainable product design, a friend, a graphic/product designer. A coffee-mate whenever we are in the same town.

You can find Tita in her esduren blog.

Some people are blessed with such great gift. Hm, no, scratch that. Some people are blessed with realization of their gift, and the guts to stay true to it.

We all have our unique gift. Only a few realize it. Even fewer utilize it.

¡Viva la vida!

Note: Arif Mulyadi – Hijrah

[Bahasa Indonesia]
This time we discuss about “hijrah”, an Arabic term which implies a move towards the better (point) in life. Hijrah starts with the desire to improve oneself. For hijrah to be blessed by Him, we need to refer to His rules. The rules of The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.

The definition of God as the Most Gracious, The Most Merciful, which implies God as Love is universally accepted. The ‘correct’ way of living is thus by radiating such love in every second of life. That we always do good deeds, full of love, to all.

The components of hijrah are remembrance (of God) and thankfulness. The implementation is by consistently acting out of love as described by the Holy Book. The output is taqwa (awareness of God as one moves through life) and good deeds.

The remembrance of God is the true meaning of “shalat”, prayer. To remember (His dos and donts), to do what He has asked us to do and to avoid what He has forbid us to do. To remember as much as we can every second of our life.

Thankfulness for all the blessings we have: the body, the soul (the sight, hearing, touch, feeling, smell and thoughts). By using them and taking care of them as best as we can.

The Holy Book Al Qur’an is used as the main guidance in life. To be read, studied, understood, applied and shared. Muhammad has created quite a comprehensive reminder system (the five pillars of Islam, Adzan, Iqamah) to help us remember at all times.

The Hijrah is a lifetime process. This is fortitude. The true Jihad. As best as we can. It is all a process.

[There was an interesting conversation about mosque. As with the misconception in shalat, there is a misconception about mosque (masjid in Arabic). The word masjid means a place to bow. Conceptually speaking, the place for one to bow resides within one’s heart.

So God’s true ‘home’ is within the heart of the believer. The act of remembrance of God is done within one’s own heart (masjid). I like this concept ☺.]

Full note (in Indonesian) can be downloaded from here.

Too painful

[Bahasa Indonesia]
Have you ever prayed or dzikr (invocation) the whole time you listen to a friend’s story? I have. Yesterday afternoon.

I called a friend to ask how she was doing and why she did not come to our discussion session last weekend. She gave me a long answer. And the whole time, I could not say anything but prayed.

“It was too painful (physically) to go,” she said. Ouch.

My friend suffered from cancer years ago. Her cancer is no longer there, but the treatments she received throughout the years have damaged her body for life.

She is honestly one of the toughest person I know.

Once another friend recommended her to listen to this spiritually soothing music to ease the pain. I answered for her, “I think we cannot talk to her about pain. She knows more about pain than you and I put together.”

Yesterday was no different. The voice was just as positive and vibrant, though always with a vague taste of irony. She told me about the treatment she has been receiving lately. The medical doctors have given up on her, so she went with alternative (faith) healing.

The most recent one is somewhere in Central Java. She took train to the nearest town and got on another bus to get to the healing center.

The treatment was, to my mind, incomprehensible. My friend is as logical as I am. So I know how desperate she must have been if she has decided to take it.

“Let’s meet this weekend,” I said, “I’ll come to your place.”

“You are very welcome to come. Saturday morning I am doing my batik course but not sure whether I am strong enough to go this week. Call me first,” she answered lightly.

She stayed silent for a second or two and continued, “No, wait, I need to go to hospital to get my morphine injection this weekend. I am afraid it has to be the next weekend then.”

This weekend or next. Or the weekends after. I’ll come. I’ll make time.

Coffee time

[Bahasa Indonesia]
What better way to enjoy coffee (or herbal tea, or fresh lemon juice) but with those we hold so close to our heart. Sometimes with family, self, and books, but more often than not, with friends.

Be it in the mornings, noons, sunsets, or evenings. By the road or by the river. Coffee is never dull given the right company.

Added with little sugar and nothing else, perhaps a dab of fresh milk now and then. Full cream, never low fat. But always with those intimate chats that bring smile to my face and to my heart.

Be it small chats about nothing. Like the day we discussed why there was only that one single tree on top of the hill, whether that cloud looked more like a bear or a bunny.

And when we weighed whether we should compile this pointless (but enchanting) conversations we had in a book titled “The inspired conversationalists.”

Or when you remind me that “control is an illusion.” A gentle greet that goes straight to the heart for a perfectionist, like you and me.

Or more profound topics. You know what they are.

Or that time you stated your certainty about what to come. I too am looking forward to the day when we sit in the same international conference, me as (a consultant to) a politician and you as international human rights defender.

And the coffee we will have afterwards. “That’s the best part,” you said.

Once you asked why I knew you so well, “Is it because you are that sensitive? Or whether you can relate to my stories?” I would love to think that I am the former.

But now I realize, more and more, that it is the latter. Just like what that “If life is a game, these are the rules” small book another friend gave me yesterday says: “Others are only mirrors of you.” As with you to me, and vice versa.

Coffee is always warming. Lemon juice refreshing.

Today I celebrate friendship. Because I remember you.

Belated happy birthday.

Flash backs

[Bahasa Indonesia]
Let’s talk about cleaning up a bit more. Looks like this particular last couple of weeks have been especially intense on the matter.

Last night as I watched a Disney channel movie, Bruce Willis’s character was told that he has been too vain to think that it is he who is helping the younger him (the younger him traveled through time to meet him).

True, perhaps the younger him can learn a thing or two, but the younger him is also there to help him remember. Help him remember. There has been many of those occurrences in my life lately.

I have been (re-)introduced to some ‘crazy’ friends, which remind me how to laugh so hard about non-important matters. People who can joke and talk lightly about everything, even about things that have hurt them in life.

Different people with different kinds of craziness. But somehow, they are all me. Some feel like they have been brought from my past specifically to remind me of myself then. (he he, so vain)

That coffee with a friend on Wednesday night has especially done it for me. My friend and I spoke and laughed about a lot of things. We spoke about the past, the present, about work, social life, and relationships. We spoke about how and why.

Our attitudes/personalities have changed in sync with our work and stages of life. And how we have changed. The words or action we said or did to people back then, we do not have the heart to say or do them to people now. Or so help us, God.

That conversation is a reminder of where I have been coming from. A reminder of what I have become now. Perhaps a reminder that I should always have that lighter silly almost-crazy side with me. That I need to stay insane to keep my sanity.

Or, maybe, it is just a sign that I have been trying too hard to stay away from the past (for good reasons, I thought) and create this new stronger much more matured identity.

Those pasts. At first we dwell upon them and we feel terrible about ourselves. Then we push them so deep within us and (we think) we are over them. Then we realize they are still there, still hurting.

We defend ourselves by rejecting them altogether, without realizing that we are not really over them. We merely become angry, bitter, or at least skeptical about them.

That conversation on Wednesday night made me think that the past is not that bad. It is part of the building blocks that have made me what I am today.

It is what makes life, life. Accept. Enjoy. Let it flow. Learning to do so. Bit by bit. And not to forget, a pitch of madness to ease the way.

Thank you. All of you.

Cleaning up

[Bahasa Indonesia]
I went up to my “office/reading” corner at home today. I did not like what I see. Too much clutter. I bet there were many things that I could actually live without.

I wondered when was the last time I sorted them all out. Um, too long.

It was time to put some sort of order in this corner and did some cleaning up.

So I spent the half of the morning and half of the afternoon doing so. I took out all the papers, books, and what have you, spread them all over the space, and started to review them one by one: chuck it out, or keep. If I keep it, where I should keep it.

It is not finished yet, but I am happy with this temporary result.

This is physical cleaning up. Easy stuff (Tell that to the government). Emotional cleaning up is another matter. And I did some as well this week(end).

I cannot remember when the last time my (work) schedule was as hectic as it has been in the last couple of months. I have been missing out on my morning ‘rituals’, my workout, my coffee with friend/book time, and (would you believe) my weekends as well.

The problem with such condition, in my case, is that it almost always brings to the surface that moody side of me and—at the same time, worse—all the emotional baggages that have lied dormant for quite some time. In waking hours and in dreams.

So earlier this week, on Thursday late afternoon, I decided to go home early. The body could not take it anymore. The mind and soul even less.

And I did to myself what I did to my office corner: I took out all the mental papers, spread them over the mental floor so that I can see them all, and started to review them one by one. Chuck it out or keep it. Put some sort of order to it.

As with the office corner, I have not finished cleaning this one up yet either. But I am happy with the temporary results.