20170618

The tale of one ride

When my favourite Coldplay's song played on my earphones while I am alone riding a bicycle to a road full of trees on my way, the sky was clear and the birds were chirping, I was wondering, how good can life get from this?

For a second I forgot about all the worries. Like, how are my dissertation going. What am I going to do for a living. Can I ever be falling again. With whom. Etc.

That moment has made me think, it is not the grandeur of superficial achievement that constructs contentment. It is the small mundane thing that matters the most. The ordinary everyday events that made up life.

I am not saying that the big thing in life does not matter, it does indeed. But those big milestones cannot stand by themselves, they are built upon smaller stones. And we cannot throw those small chunks overboard. I suppose, comparing to the big milestones, it is the small chunks of life that influence ourselves the most.

Imagine the things we wanted to achieve or places we wanted to be. Let it be the dream job, university, status, degree of wealth, holiday destination, or anything. Once we conquer those, I dare to say that we still won't be happy 24/7. Because the big picture cannot constantly determine our state of being, it is the smallest event that counts.

Like, the running rabbits in front of your flat. The unexpected loose of bike chains before going to the library. The reduced price of your favourite sandwich. The eureka moment when the deadline approaches. The warmth of Koyo on your sore feet. The rejected job application. The forgotten fivers in your pocket. The blooming flowers under the ray of sun. The short emails from your supervisor. The message that sent to the wrong people. The call from home. The hug from a friend. The unpretentious beauty of Scottish canal.

As the ordinary mundane event matters, it effortlessly came to my mind the idea of being more present in the present. There are too many times I immersed myself in the memories. I was happy in the past at such and such a time. Or times I fantasised about the future. I will be happy when I have done this, achieved that, went somewhere, and so on. Upon the tranquillity of the Clyde riverside, my inner guts told me to minimise those series of pleasant thoughts that distract my attention from the present. Because after all, no matter how unappealing the present may seem, it is the only moment that is real. I suddenly comprehend raison d'etre of the famous clichè phrase 'cherish every moment'.

As the gentle wind freshen up my mind, Mumford & Sons hijacked my earphones, I stumbled upon another realisation. It is not the title behind the name that makes a story. It is the human connection I made along the year. Other people may or may not notice how difficult it is for me to make new connections. As I am pretty reserved and timid, human interaction and socialisation have never become my strength. The way I talk or act often made myself cringe. In terms of human connection, I had expected nothing from this merely one year journey.

But it is when we are expecting the least, life gives us things more than we can imagine. I am not talking about the social networking with the big number of people for exact purposes. I am talking about the warm connections that made myself feel at home. The city itself has always amazed me with its hospitality. Let it be the people I don't know or the people I know. The people from here or from afar. This one single year makes me believe that, unlike Hobbes' conception of the state of nature, humans are basically kind. I don't know what makes people so kind and caring here though. Perhaps the tap water.

My smug self indeed had expected nothing from this one year journey. I thought I had enough close friends back home so that getting closer to new people was never my priority. Man, was I wrong. It is the camaraderie that keeps me going, keeps me sane. The sense of togetherness, the chat of desperation, the mutual respect and understanding, the companionship, the cordial relations. As a matter of fact, every person I have known here has a special place in my heart.

Speaking of human connection, I instantly remembered one of the TEDx speakers who spoke about his 75 years of studying people's life. He said, the clearest lessons that they got from three generation of researchers researching men's life is that: good quality relationship keeps people happier and healthier. The relationship here refers to the broad context. I recalled he mentioned something about the fact that people who are socially connected to family, friends, or community are happier and physically healthier. Now what he said totally makes sense to me.

As my mind wanders in the more indescribable manner, I appreciate every inch of the city. Three months left until I come back to my country. Three months is short. And the clock is always ticking.


20170501

Mbakyu

Found an old note that struck me hard. Really hard. 

Di pinggir sungai, di depan pasir bahan bangunan. Malam ini aku mengusir lapar.
Ah suara air itu bukanlah melankoli malam. Malam ini malam yang kuat, berkat Mbakyu ku yang satu ini. Yang menemaniku mengusir lapar. Mbakyu ku si penjual mie baso.

Belum lama aku kenal, malah tidak pernah kenal. Tapi setidaknya aku hafal, Mbakyu ku ini yang badannya gemuk kulitnya hitam, rambutnya pula hitam diikat panjang. Sebelum meladangiku ditangannya ada benda yang kuhafal, rokok yang menyala. Jika aku datang sedang tak banyak pengunjung, selalu kutemuinya sedang menerawang sambil mengasap benda itu. Di pinggir sungai, di depan pasir bahan bangunan, Mbakyu ku ini mencari makan.

Harga mie basonya lima ribu saja. Dengan baso yang besar dan beberapa gelintir baso kecil-kecil. Mienya banyak. Sayurnya bisa minta yang banyak. Yang makan disini pun biasanya banyak. Seperti sekarang ini. Aku menikmati obrolan-obrolan yang muncul dari orang yang makan disini. Menaruhku pada benarnya kehidupan, benar-benar kehidupan yang nyata. Atau sering sebut itu realitas. Mereka adalah kaum Mbakyu ku. Yang sepertinya makan disini adalah istimewa, hadiah buat anaknya, atau hadiah buat ulangtahun pernikahannya. Disini, di mie baso yang lima ribu saja. Sedang aku disini dalam rangka menghemat. Dan ternyata yang lima ribu itu yang spesial bukan yang biasa.


Padahal kalau ayahku tahu dia akan mencibir. Makanan macam apa ini? 

Ya, vetsinnya banyak garamnya juga mienya entah higienis atau tidak saosnya yang sebotol besar murah saja daging basonya entah segar entah tidak. Rasanya begitu khas, begitu terasa murahnya, membengkakan amandelku, tapi menyentuh sanubariku. Tempatnya bukan yang nyaman serta enak disinggahi, di pinggir sungai, di depan pasir bahan bangunan, bisa saja itu pasir-pasir terbang ke mangkukku tanpa kelihatan.

Malam ini mbakyu ku sedang tidak beruntung, listrik dari rumah yang ditumpangi buat gerobak ini sedang padam. Jadi dipasanglah lilin, remang-remang.


Pengunjung yang banyak ini saling berbicara, bahasa sunda tentunya. Ada yang baru beli handphone, yang murah bondling dengan provider itu. Lalu mereka membicarakan kelebihan-kelebihannya. Apa mereka kenal blackberrymessenger? Aku ragu. Tapi muka-mukanya itu pancarkan bahagia. Aku jadi ikut senang. Ada lagi yang sedang menasehati anaknya untuk belajar, jika ulangannya bagus akan diajak ia ke Griya oleh ibunya. Apa, Griya? Aku ragu mereka tahu Paris van Java disana. Juga anak yang ingin mencolok baso untuk dibawa kerumahnya, barangkali ia masih lapar. Tapi ayahnya bilang, "eeh atos atos!" Sudah-sudah. Mukanya pancarkan, kalau aku punya uang akan kubelikan semangkuk lagi, nak. Padahal di kantung bajuku mungkin cukup uang untuk mentraktir mereka berdua. Si Bapak itu memarahi anaknya yang ingin mencolok baso padahal seribu rupiah saja.


Datang lagi pengunjung dari kaumnya, menanyakan Mbakyu ku, "wah sudah pakai lpg sekarang?" Mbakyu ku sumringah lalu bilang iya. Dan mereka mengobrol tentang kebijakan pemerintah yang satu itu. Tigabelas ribu rupiah untuk satu tabung kecil adalah jumlah yang banyak ternyata, sampai mereka terus membicarakan tentang itu. Padahal bekalku sehari saja lebih banyak dari itu.


Semuanya menjadi ironi. Kemarin malam aku yang menjadi keparat buat mereka. Ketika Mbakyu ku ini menerawang, mungkin memikirkan biaya sekolah anaknya, biaya kontrakan, ingin pulang ke kampung atau apa, aku sedang duduk nyaman di tempat ber-AC yang memutar film. Biaya masuknya bisa buat bayar lpg tiga tabung.


Ah apapun. Yang penting ini mie aku habiskan.


Mbakyu ku ini kembali bersantai dan mengasap. Ingin sekali aku bilang, Mbakyu biaya rumah sakit itu mahal, buat apa kau sakiti paru-parumu. Tapi sudahlah tentang sakit dan umur siapa yang tahu. Asap ini juga bisa membuatku berpikir, berpikir lebih jauh dan dalam.


Mungkin Mbakyu menyadari sedari tadi aku diam karena datang hanya sendiri. Lalu dia mengajakku berbicara meski basa-basi. "Neng masih sekolah?" Aku jawab "Iya". "Sekolah dimana?" Aku beritahu sekolahku. Dia bilang wah, aku hanya tersenyum. Dia tanya bayarannya berapa. Aku jawab. Ekspresinya lebih wah lagi, yang sekarang aku tidak tersenyum tapi tanya kenapa. "Tidak sanggup", Mbakyu ku bilang. 


Lalu dia bertanya, "Neng itu sekolah negeri atau swasta kok sampai segitu". Ya kujawab saja negeri. Mbakyu ku ini yang giliran tersenyum. Ah tak usah dilanjutkan, satu sama lain sama-sama tahu. Aku pun ikut tersenyum. Seakan ketidakberesan merupakan kelumrahan.

Baru sebentar begitu Mbakyu ku sibuk lagi. Melayani, meladangi. Pembeli pun agaknya puas. Mereka simbiosis mutualisme.


Baiklah Mbakyu, kalau kau tidak cukup berdaya, aku yang akan maju. Masih ada kesempatan bagiku untuk berdiri dan menjadi yang didengarkan. Ya, kaummu memberikan begitu banyak energi tanpa kalian tahu. Doakan aku, mbakyu.


Di pinggir sungai, di depan pasir bahan bangunan, aku belajar.


1 December 2009

20170403

You are enough

These may sound foreign in your mind. The judgment of others has flooded your aesthetic soul. Diminished the melodious voice inside your body. Left you desolated in silence. Vulnerable to the bone.

Today I want you to recall your forgotten song. I want you to revive what has been suppressed. The harmony that been long gone.

You are attractive enough. This word has been said to you in a connotative manner. Addressed to your soul. To your demeanour. To any abstract conception but your physical being. No. I will not let them put you out of the criteria. I will not let your consciousness sucked up by the artificial bias. The market-driven logic of the man-made industry. You are beautiful and let me stated it as a fact. Without a but. Your face is perfect as it is. Your hair is fine as you are. Your smile could brighten someone's day. Your presence could warm up the milieu. You just don't know. You just don't realise.

You are insightful enough. You may feel you are submerged in the stream of mediocrity. You laugh on your slow uptake. You underestimate your own capabilities. You feel less than others. But no. Every person has their own features. If only you listen to yourself, your intuition screams your salient feature that has been overlooked. And that distinctive attribute of yours has made somebody feel a yearning desire to be close to you. Maybe you know who it is. Maybe you don't know yet.

You are worthy enough. You have the qualities that deserve kind attention. You are precious as you are worthy of being adored. You are worthy of affection. To be treated with tenderness. To be treated with respect. To be dignified.

If, at all, you want to improve yourself, do it because it gives more meaning to your life and others. Do it as a means to rejoice yourself. Not as a punishment for your current being. Not as a prolonged cruelty, a continuous savagery from you to yourself for not being good enough.

Because after all, you are enough. And you deserve to feel that way.

20170302

When the grass is greener

I started to realise that the kind of relationship I need now is a friendly companion and nothing more. And the decision I agreed on two months ago is, if brilliant is too strong, right.

I might weep about how being single has a detrimental effect on my own self-esteem. How I felt worthless knowing that someone whom I wholeheartedly adored is no longer interested in the time that I've invested nor the things that I said. How I felt like a failure to finally just walk out. How I felt disappointed with myself, with him, with the circumstances, with everything. How I felt the negativity consumed me.

Yes, I might weep thousand times like a little girl lost her candy. Her only sweet candy she owns. Or a little girl lost her balloon. That fly high up in the air in a second she did not have a chance to grasp.

But then I think, what does it take to make me that sad?
Is it because of the solid loneliness, I no longer have someone to share trivial things anymore?
Is it because of the status, you know, being single signifies that you are not as 'valuable' as those who owns a partner in a social context?
Is it because of the shattered expectations of the future?
What is it about?

The loneliness, to some extent, yes. But then I realised that I actually have friends to talk to, to share stupid things with. They are there, exist, alive. I have many people whom I overlooked for when I was too busy with my own little bubble. I don't really have a plausible excuse to prolong the sadness for the loneliness reason. In addition, I also am an introvert that, in fact, pretty much enjoy solitude.
The status? Probably the dumbest reason to be sad.
Shattered expectations? Well, life does surprise people in so many ways, maybe this is my thing. My expectations might have shattered in this matter, but on the other hand, there are many things happened beyond my expectations. And that's kinda outweighed the former.

Right now when I am typing this post, I feel nothing but liberated.

Liberation is a good feeling, the feeling of freedom, relieved. Unimpeded.
I can feel the airy space, the vast emptiness that clear my head.
I feel the power of being myself, without having to be associated with anyone to be defined.

I may still crack a joke about how I want to find 'the one' or mock 'the singleness' as a funny epithet.
But honestly, the idea of amorous relationship gives goosebumps down my spine. At least for now.
I'm currently in the pinnacle of my ego. I'm in the state that I don't wanna be owned by someone nor I own someone. I don't want to be 'in charge' of someone else's happiness again, nor I depend mine on someone. I don't want to compromise nor being the reason for someone to compromise.

I enjoy make friends with new people, get in touch with old friends, get closer with inner circles. I am kinda referring my social relationship now with a notion of no strings attached. Because, you know, if anyone wants to be kind to me then be kind, do not expect anything in return. I do the same way. I never knew that life's easier this way.

The decision I made two months ago is right. I had spent most of my early adulthood not experiencing the feeling I felt in the last two months. Of clarity. Of liberation. I shift my focus on me. Only me. If I occasionally want to have a person who can instantly reply my stupid text, share my trivial complaints about life, eat together, watch a movie together,  all I need is a friend and nothing more. And I do have them. At least I think I have. So I guess I'm done with all the sorrow.

Now for all the lone wolf out there, please do not let yourself defined by how no one wants to be your special someone. Please do not let yourself drown in the misery of being lonely. Please do not depend your happiness on whom you are not with. You matter more than that. Being with someone is not an achievement. Nor it is the solution for all of your issues. It's just a differentiation of a life pathway.

And indeed, the grass is always greener on the other side.

20161021

Make peace with self

I must say that this is the most impressive two months I ever lived for nearly 24 years.

The world is so much more beautiful in the lens of western world. The air is cleaner, no single ventolin used in this past two months. The water is clearer, you can drink from your own sink. The traffic and public transportation is more bearable, I almost always sit and read in subway, no significant hassle experienced. The sidewalk for pedestrian is there, waiting for you to walk, wide and safe. The food is coming from the best sources, abundant vegetables and fruits, cheap almond milk, variety of cheeses, affordable salmon. The people are minding their own business.
Life is less stressful than it was before.

Yes, those are admirable, but those are not the mere reason of the impressiveness.

I'm impressed by how living away from your comfort zone is letting you discover yourself in the most intense way. And by comfort zone I mean all the familiarity I had back home. Family, friends, food, material possession, social norms.

Day by day, second by second, I have a galore of chance to get to know the truest form of myself more. It started with the most basic question: what kind of person do I want to be?

The answer might involve further discovery of self, but at least now I figure out what kind of person I don't want to be.

I don't want to be a person with many faces. Being different person around different people. Talk differently, act differently around certain kind of people. I don't want to hide things and spend my energy to serve people's perspective towards me. Because then I have to ask myself, which one of those person am I?  

I aspire to be the same person whether I'm with my nephew or my college friends.

I want me to do, or not do, things not because of someone else's presence or judgement, but because of the reason I inherently believe and the logic I essentially embrace. As for me to be labelled as certain thing is none of my business, because I cannot control people's perspective. One thing I can fully control is myself.

The truth is, I'm no longer relying on a sense of pure good and bad because the more I grow up the more I understand that all norms are relative, the world is not black and white. So the extra question I ask myself when I decided something, whether serious or trivial, is do I still have the same decision if I were surrounded by different people, for instance, if I were surrounded by the familiarity mentioned above? It is because of me that I decided to do this, or because of the others? And if the answer is yes, it is for the first reason, then I'm gonna do it. If it is not, then I'm in a full control of myself to not do it.

If I'm being kind with my closest friend, then I'm gonna be kind with whomever it is. I'm being kind not because she/he is A or B, but because it is what I am. If I don't drink in front of my parents, then I don't drink even if I'm in a bar with friends. My action is not based on my parents' presence nor my friends' judgement, it is because of what I do believe. If I don't smoke in front of my boyfriend's mom, I don't smoke even if I'm alone. Because it is what I am, not because I am afraid to be labelled as such thing.

Whenever I go, whomever I'm with, it has to be the same Tita Adelia that I am. That is the only way I can make peace with myself.

Now I get it why is there such phenomenon called 'coming out'. Because to make peace with yourself, you have to be able to be the same person wherever you are, whenever you are, whomever with you are. Hiding things, being a person with many faces, is somehow exhausting.

For my case, although it is not as easy at it seems, I'm fortunate enough that my version of self is widely accepted by society. I couldn't imagine how miserable it is to be oneself that happened to be the opposite side of constructed norms. It is like I want to befriend them. I want to hug them, tell them that it is okay to be your version of self, as long as no one on this mortal earth is harmed because of who you are.

Make peace with yourself is like the most fundamental thing you can do to reach the state of being happy. And I never feel as content as this before.

If it is not for the long distance I took apart from my comfort zone, I might not be able to even think about this all. I will be too busy dealing with everyday's routine, ride the sardine can train in the morning, fulfil superior's expectation in the daylight, craving for high quality sleep in the night.

So I'm not wrong if I say that this is the most impressive two months I ever lived for nearly 24 years, am I?