Silent Reading

It was early in my elementary school year, when I first learned about silent reading.

“Now open page 27 and read the paragraph silently,” my teacher said.

Bewildered, I opened my book and paused, wondering what that meant. I looked around and saw everyone staring, silently, at their books on their tables. Seemed easy.

So I looked back at mine, I opened my mouth, tried to start reading, but my voice came out. This is not right, I thought. I tried to read it again, this time I could manage to have my voice lower. The girl sitting next to me looked at me, amused.

“Just read it with your mouth closed,” she whispered.

So I did. But damn, that was impossible! Every time I try, I couldn’t do what seemed so easy for the rest of my classmates. I felt like an idiot. It was really frustrating. I spent the hours hoping the teacher would not ask me any questions.

The next day some kind of miracle happened.

It was a lazy afternoon when I pretended to be busy with an open book on my lap. I stared at the boring text there, contemplating words by words. AT first, it was just about going though words. Then I realized I was reading those words from the beginning to the end of that page. Voila! Just like that I started to read silently with my mouth shut. It was so magical.


After the Breakup

This is a short story about heartbreak. About losing so many aspects in my life. Losing my faith in love and relationship. Losing my trust in me. Losing my pride. Losing my joy. Losing some reasons of my happiness, my peace of mind, my dream. I’m losing a man I once loved dearly.

I’m ready now to write down this wistful story. I have passed all those stages I read everywhere on the Internet. Interestingly, those stages are not actually sequential. It’s not that once you crossed one stage, you can only move forward to the next stage. No, it doesn’t work that way, especially when the breakup is relatively fresh (I said “relatively” because everyone has their own timeline, and that’s totally fine). I’m approaching my fourth month now from the breakup. I feel stronger than ever. I can see things more clearly and I understand and accept that the breakup was necessary, the breakup was the right thing.

One important thing I learned this time is: not to be so hard on myself. “Don’t beat yourself up!” Seriously. If you’re going through a breakup, for whatever reason and whatever circumstances, don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, take a good care of yourself. Acknowledge the pain (which may cause you doing things you won’t be proud of in a normal situation). Believe that you’re doing the best thing you could do at a given state of affairs. Always.

I still cry now and then. I’m torn. I feel my heart breaks again every time I realize that he fell out of love with me. Although I also don’t feel the way I used to feel about him. You know that feelings. How you don’t see the personality you were falling in love with. Getting to know each other more made us realized how different we are. We want very different things. He wants to always be surrounded by girls. At first, nothing about infidelity, it’s just the way he is. He loves being with girls. He loves being adored and admired for his physical features, his charisma, and his obsession about foreign culture. On the other hand, I don’t like men who flirts around. I found it tacky and unattractive. I might forget the fact that in the beginning he was flirting with me too, and I took the bait voluntarily :).

You know that phrase “one thing leads to another”? So yes, one thing lead to another. The flirting became more severe. I became so irritated thus the nagging followed relentlessly. Till at some point he got tired and took it beyond. He cheated on me. The first time was forgiven. But then there was the second, and third, and I lost count. And the day came. The day when we agreed to break our tie. We cried like we never did before. We loved each other that much.

Now, at this point I finally have everything sorted out clearly. That fog hanging on my head is lifted up. The reason of the breakup was so simple. We are not the right person for each other. We tried. We tried real hard to make it work, for the love reason. But he fell out of love too and I can’t work on this relationship alone.

It’s not easy to accept those facts. It’s actually really painful. Because it’s not just merely about losing the love, but about all those dreams and hopes that have been built are now shattered, drifted to the gutter.

But there is an up side. I’m not only losing in this game. I’m gaining too. Life lesson is the obvious and direct reward from the hardship. Strength, patience, new perspective, time to explore who I am and what I really want in a relationship and in life, and most  of all: detached happiness (the kind of happiness that starts inside me, not others).

That is the beauty of breakup. We actually become a better person. The Failed Relationship is like one subject in the University of Life and the real breakup is like the test we should go through and pass. By now I have taken this class several times and I know for sure at least I get a B+ this time. I don’t intend to attend this class again to get an A, though.

Lastly, when you’re going through a breakup, take your time to heal. Seek for support from your closest friends, perhaps family too (if you are close to them). Browse the Internet to get a wealth of tips and advice to help you; pick the ones suit you. Fortunately for us, it’s not a close book test :).

My Sanctuary

What I love about this park after the rain is its peaceful atmosphere. And of course the fresh air that calms down the thick pollution. And the busy people doing their stuff on their own. As if we are being alone, together.

That young man at my eleven o’clock sitting gracefully with his guitar playing some unpopular song I have never heard of. Yet you know how lovely the sound of an acoustic guitar. And you’d stay to hear more and more.
That boy at my three o’clock can’t get off his smartphone, scrolling and sometimes texting. I bet to a group chat. He seems bored of what he sees on the screen.

Those two older men ten meters in front of me sipping their coffee checking on me once in a while. Vice versa.

That dark-skin man with a red tray walking here and there offering hot coffee, tea, or Milo–my favorite. Not so many people around this evening. They blame the rain. Also the Friday night where people are in a rush to come home to their family or to later hit a party. 

And oh there is of course that violinist group at my back, playing something in A-minor. Only three of them now, maybe the rest are stuck somewhere in the disgusting Jakarta traffic.

Two girls on my left cheerfully chatting. About their unfulfilling job, about their disappointing boys, about what to do tomorrow, and what to do in the rest of their lives.

That young couple holding and swinging their hands, strolling the park from one end to the other. Smiling and giggling. Enjoying the evening after work, feeling lucky and grateful to be just the two of them. 

The writer, well… I, just finished with my running, beat my own record of no longer run like a bear who just woke up from hibernation. Sitting on a bench, observing. While breathing in the wonderful smell of wet grass. Admiring the white pigeons sitting elegantly in their nest. Playing with the familiar cats of white and black and the tortoiseshell. Waiting. For nothing. And just being. Here.

Contradictory Wisdom

“Life is what we make it”, they say. But hey, they also say “what will be, will be”.

Isn’t it rather annoying how the wise men always have something to say for certain circumstances in life? When something happens, a wisdom shared, people accept and use it to help them getting through difficult time. Let’s see this one as an example:

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

That wisdom has been helping couples in going through (temporary) separation. Some might find a way back, some are lost, some have to deal with the fact that absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Because you know… there is another wisdom:

Out of sight, out of mind.

Isn’t it amusing?

When things get rough in our relationship, we’d like to believe that this is the thing worth fighting for. Every couple goes through difficult times and many come out alive and stronger, holding on to the following wisdom:

You can’t just give up on someone just because the situation is not ideal. Great relationships aren’t great because they have no problems. They’re great because both people care enough about the other person to find a way to make it work.

On the other hand, there is this poet who fabricates a metaphor, helping our insensitive senses and mechanical brain to comprehend life and figure out its puzzling course. She created “the bridge”. It’s simple. It’s spot-on. It’s crystal clear.

Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.
Nayyirah Waheed

Another contradiction between one wisdom to another is the ones related to confidence or optimism. You must have heard this famous advice to:

Fake it till you make it.

Many actually follow and apply this in life–mostly working life–to boost their confidence fueled with great optimism. The underlined idea of “faking it until making it” is about developing some habits to eventually becoming part of who we are. We’re talking about good habits of course. You fake doing the habits of successful people. If you’re persistent enough, without you realize it you become one of those successful people.

How? Well, George Costanza has some practical tips for that :D.

On the other hand, some experts say “fake it til you make it” is a bad advice. Confidence should not be about pretending or acting. Because no matter how good you’re faking it, people can tell. There are some uncontrollable traits that will show the ultimate truth of who you are and how you really feel. What about letting your confidence emerge from your real accomplishment? No matter how small and simple accomplishment that is.

It’s dilemmatic in a way: which wisdom should we trust?


Click here for more contradictory proverbs.

Mencari Bahagia

Dear R,
Benarkah hidup ini tentang mencari bahagia? Kenapa begitu ya? Ah, kamu mana mau menjawab? Kamu mana bisa menjawab?

Kamu sibuk sekali. Tak sempat kautanyakan pada dirimu sendiri pertanyaan yang baru saja kuungkapkan. Kamu mencari uang. Mencari pengakuan. Mencari posisimu di lingkungan pergaulan. Mungkin kadang kau sempatkan juga mencari cinta.

R, jangan-jangan hidup bukan tentang mencari kebahagiaan. Hidup hanya semacam perjalanan. Kita hadapi apa yang di depan. Senangnya, sedihnya, bahagianya, kejutannya, deritanya. Karena hidup tidak seperti dongeng yang tamat ketika gadis cantik yang miskin dan baik hati dipinang oleh seorang pangeran tampan, lalu ditutup dengan sebaris frasa: happily ever after. Kenyataannya hidup bukan tentang happily ever after sebab sesudah gembira datang selalu saja ada bayang-bayang kesedihan, begitu pun sebaliknya.

R, dalam hidup ini begitu banyak yang membuat dadaku sesak. Peperangan, kemiskinan, pengkhianatan, ketidakpedulian. Sementara di sini kita bergelimang kenyamanan, meski ternyata kita tidak juga merasa bahagia. Kita merasa hampa. Kita tak berdaya. Berdosa kah kita?

Aku bahagia saat bersamamu. Dulu, dan mungkin nanti. Kucoba membekukan momen itu, kubingkai, dan kupasang dalam tembok memoriku. Bukankah momen yang sudah terjadi itu akan tetap bernama memori bahagia? Dan ketika aku sedang tidak bahagia karena jauh darimu dan sebagainya, itu pun akan menjadi potret dalam bingkai cerita hidup.

Bahagia itu memang rasa yang menyenangkan, karena itulah manusia berkejaran menggapainya. Sedih itu bisa membuat sekujur tubuh menjadi muram, alhasil manusia pun bersusah payah menghindari dan menolaknya.

Kasihan sekali manusia yang tidak tahu apa yang menjadi kebahagiaannya ya. Ia tak tahu mesti mengejar apa. Ataukah ia justru beruntung karena tak perlu lelah mengejar?

Ah R, tidak bahagia itu tak apa-apa. Buktinya kita baik-baik saja. Kamu tidak bahagia. Aku juga tidak. Tapi toh kita tetap memilih menjalani ketidakbahagiaan itu seperti juga jutaan manusia lainnya. Sebab mungkin hidup bukan melulu tentang mencari bahagia. Ini hanya sandiwara singkat saja.



New Year’s Resolution

I didn’t make any targets last year, but I think I need some for 2016. For the sake of progressing and moving forward.

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something

The key word this year is skill. I want to learn several new skills that I think I will enjoy to do and will be useful.

  1. Able to make bags and purses. I will take sewing classes for it early this year and buy a decent sewing machine.
  2. Able to play harmonica. I really like the bluesy sound of harmonica and I think this instrument is cool to play. Have been checking some tutorials on Youtube, and I will be diligent to practice. Nothing too ambitious about this, I just want to fluently play a couple of songs.
  3. Able to make graphical designs using Illustrator and Photoshop. This one is rather tough because not only learning the technique, but I will also need to polish my sense of art.
  4. Understand and speak basic Swedish.
  5. Read more books. I’m inspired by Mark Zuckerberg who reads one book a week. I will try that. Yes, 52 books.

That’s all. If they are accomplished, I believe I would be a completely different person by the end of the year :).