Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Word Became Flesh

In retrospect, the year 2009 marks both the high and low points of my life: as my undergraduate journey reached its finish line this year, a new set of challenges presented themselves as I flipped open a new chapter of job and career. Struggling through the ordeal of setting my foot in the world of career, I found myself identifying with several characters in the Bible who faced similar doubt and anxiety just like me.

David in Psalm 55 was overwhelmed with anguish as his enemies intensely pursued him, and to his bewilderment, God remained silent. Job hit rock-bottom when God took everything away from him, and in his utmost agony, he cried to God "Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?"

Just like these people, there were also many occurrences in my life where I doubt his wisdom. During my four months of job-search, I doubted whether he was in control over my predicament; I wondered if he accidentally overlooked my case and left me 'home-alone'. I doubted his sovereignty when he gave me the not-so-popular job in sales. I doubted if he understood me and had my best interest at heart when my job was being taken away from me. Sometimes I see myself as a puppet being controlled aimlessly by the puppet master, and when situation does not go as my script perceives, I second-guess his wisdom "Do you know what you're doing? You don't know what it's like down here!"

Thankfully, this Christmas has given me a new enlarged perspective, primarily as the antidote to all my doubts. Christmas is God loving, God stooping, God coming to the rescue. It is his descent, not my ascent to God; his initiative, not mine; his condescension to be relevant and approachable; his emptying of his deity to absorb grieve, pain, and anxiety. His incarnation provides answer to Job's accusation and mine "Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you know what it's like down here". Yes, for a time, God did.

And that is how Christmas provides solution for each of my ordeal; Christmas is the ultimate answer. I may not grasp his mysterious plan in my life yet, the future is still clouded with uncertainties and I will still waver in my unbelief and vacillate like a faithless child. But as I revisit the story of Christmas, I realize that the Father who sent his begotten son to ill-deserving people such as me is still the same Father who loves me today with the same love that put Jesus in a small manger as well as on the cross.

Two thousand years ago, at a small manger in Bethlehem, God has proven his love for me, and I can bank on that fact and rest assure that the same love will care for me today, tomorrow, or even the year after. Yes, amidst of all the uncertainties, his love is still in control and by looking at Christmas I can confidently says that my future is taken care of.

- Inspired by Grace Notes by Philip Yancey -

Friday, December 25, 2009

Hidden Pearls in the East Coast

Who have never heard of the magnificent Statue of Liberty in New York, or the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, or the luxurious hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, or even the breathtaking view of Grand Canyon? Yes, those are the typical must-see cities in the United States, but the quaint lighthouse in Maine or the opulence of Newport with its extravagant mansions are unfortunately unknown to many.

This trip uniquely stands out from the rest that I've been through simply because it was not a typical travel agency itinerary and I truly enjoyed every minute of it - from the superb lobster in Maine to the colorful gingerbread houses in Martha's Vineyard. That was a combo in itself; couple that with the perfect companionship and that makes the trip a super combo experience.

At one of the landmarks in Princeton University - was not on our list, but turned out to be a great side-trip. Full of astoundingly architectural buildings.

The eye-popping view of Cape Elizabeth, Portland Headlight on the background really adds to the beauty.

Providence, home of Brown University. The 4th Ivy League University we visited on this trip after Princeton, Harvard and MIT. Yes, we were so determined to suck their intellectuality.

Ogunquit, Maine.

I absolutely love this place, Oguinquit in Maine. Small yet beautiful town, resplendent with local shops and restaurants. This is the Must Visit - it was unfortunate we didn't get the chance to go through the Marginal Walk - a beautiful trail along the coast.

Martha's Vineyard

Pic1 Panoramic view of the Gay Headlight. Pic2 Lovely and neat gingerbread houses, now you know how it feels to live in a fairy tale. Pic3 Taking picture freely on a middle of a street - love the ambiance of a small town


Newport is a hidden pearl in New England; I was left in awe witnessing the opulent of the socialite's mansions as well as the countless spots to take excellent pictures, oh and not forgetting the excellent sushi (Sumo sushi & Newport Tokyo House). Without a doubt, a Must Visit!!

So, now that you see all these pictures, you might want to reconsider New York for your next trip =)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Empty Pursuit of Fame

In this era of reality TV, advertisements and social medias , attention is a scarcity and people are competing ferociously for their share of fame and recognition. In the recent "balloon boy" case, parents willingly employ their own child to promote their popularity. It seems to me that people will not vacillate to legalize all means to gain fame; from performing the silliest act in "30 seconds to fame", broadcasting the daily struggle of raising eight Gosselins, and to staging a "six-year-old boy in a balloon" drama. All for the sake of winning people's wow, simply that - to bring a faint of self-worth into their bland dull life.

The need to be loved and recognized is a basic human trait; it is evident in each and every stage of humans' life. A baby hollers desperately to get his parents' attention, a high school student engineers a rebellion by failing his class, a college sophomore gets himself in a brawl to impress girls, a business owner donates his money to create media buzz. Each stage has its own weapon of choice, but the more people grow intellectually, the more insidious it becomes. Humans are innately the master of manipulation, and our boot camp starts even when we barely able to talk.

Is it wrong then to want to be recognized? I believe the answer is a resounding no. But when people will go to such length to satisfy their hunger for fame, it becomes an acute unquenchable obsession which if left untreated will start to redefine their self-esteem. And this incident simply shows what direction our current society is going: a celebrity-obsessed narcissistic culture.

That is why we are so obsessed with putting our latest pictures on Facebook, we peruse all blog posts on "getting more followers on Twitter", we have our own self-portrait or caricature, and we even Google ourselves. Yes, we want our existence to be affirmed, and we define our self-esteem based on useless opinions - how many facebook friends and twitter followers we have? How many people view our youtube video or blog?

Personally, I think we have to remember that people's opinion should never dictate our own evaluation of self-esteem. The impulse for fame will always be there, but I think we should master the art of controlling it and refuse to accept the delusion that it creates; self-worth should never be measured using a popularity contest from a bunch of unknown "voters".

I highly doubt that people will find true joy from having thousands of impersonal comments on their video. Would that really make you happy? For me, I believe that I am worth more than even millions of comments or followers, and I am just going to live my life freely without having to obsess over who's gonna like me or who's paying attention. Hey, my life is still a great drama, with or without camera around.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cirque Du Soleil - From Obsession to Reality

I will never deny my acute appetite for Cirque du Soleil, a Canadian organization which reinvented the unappealing old circus and as a result gained world-wide recognition. But I have never imagined that I would be given the chance to imitate some of Cirque's acts to which I, unlike Cirque, received rounded mockery and humiliation from the unappreciative friends. It started out as a stupid prank during my 10-days road trip with five other friends, and we managed to keep the folly till the very end of the trip. Here are the collection of our bitter hard work and hopefully they will come out to you as a series of our serious endeavor to present the gist of Cirque du Soleil.

We call it: Cirque du Lamar. Now, allow me to present our cover picture.

We believe in the importance of a cover and we take it seriously!! This image represents the essence of Cirque du Lamar, we are all about the beast shown: powerful yet swift, sturdy yet acrobatic. At the same time, the image also reveals our value: we love animals! (and I believe the model's stern expression portrays that better than my words)

Now, without further ado, please enjoy the snippets of our acts!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Living in a Fellowship - Ministry House

It was out of nonchalance that I decided to move in to the so-called Ministry House almost a year ago. Since then, I can confidently declare that the hasty decision is one of the life-changing decisions that I've ever made. It almost seems audacious to make such claim; that moving into a house of six could actually be such substantial, but here I am, sharing a tip of the iceberg of my experiences and elucidating why there is not even a hint of audacity on such claim but rather a very natural one.

Allow me to make a very circular argument by first stating that humans are not designed to be self-autonomous. In fact, we are hard-wired to be in a community, in a fellowship of self-giving and other-centeredness. To take a simple example, Christopher McCandless, an American adventurer, who has been living in solitude and an off-civilization life for three months, came to a realization of how unreal that kind of life was. On his last journal, he noted that "happiness is real only when shared".

That quote hit me hard. To some degree, I can identify with Christopher McCandless. I may not be fearless enough to go to live in Alaska, but once I dreamed of a secluded and solitary life for my retirement, far from the hustling and bustling of city life and friends or neighbors who constantly impose disturbances. Ministry house, in all its simplicity, debunks that belief; the virtue of independence that once I highly regard is now the object of of my derision.

Our God is a relational and communal God and since we are created in His image, we share those characteristics. Living with six brothers allows me to taste the sweetness of being in an other-centered fellowship and foretaste the beauty of heaven. Borrowing Tim Keller's image of divine love, in other centeredness love, "we enter into a dynamic orbit around him or her, we center on the interests and desires of the other". When six people revolve around one another with love, "that creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love." When I have been exposed to this higher standard, the idea of a solitary life seems too preposterous.

For example, when I was still doing my undergrad study, I voluntarily packed my schedule with back to back classes, sometimes even up to 9.30pm. Why? Because I draw my significance from the sense of accomplishment of achieving something beneficial that day, I bask in the glory of being effective and useful. However, the glory was short-lived. Once the satisfaction waned, I felt like there was something missing. The satisfaction could not fill a deeper void in my heart. My response, surprisingly, was incredulous; Instead of admitting that there's a problem to be fixed, I brushed it off and look forward to achieve something more tomorrow - more readings, more writings, more working out, etc.

Apparently, I was living out my individualistic lifestyle while striving forward to effectively achieve my goals and my sense of significance. On the outset, isn't this what all the business books adamantly preach - isn't this good - what's wrong with this picture? Ministry house helps me to see the answer, and it was found in each individual in the house. All of this while, I did not live up to my identity as a relational human being and voluntarily cut myself off from developing a close relationship with friends and brothers in the house.

However, living in the house where territory is undefined and all rooms are common areas, it is impossible to keep anyone at arm's length. People will come to my room to share and talk. I still remember several occasions where this happened; one or two people gathered together in the living room or anywhere, the conversation began to draw more people and it actually led to a very invigorating late-night conversation. The same thing goes to our weekly prayer meeting; I witness the fellowship of brothers in which people share their struggle, confess their sins, encourage one another - the conversation was just soaked with love.

Having experienced this, it is illogical to deny that a brotherly fellowship is much more satisfying and fulfilling. It helps me to have a closer and deeper relationships, it provides me with opportunities to practice God's love, and it gives me a fulfilling life. A life of love and being loved. Serve and being served. A life in which you can rest your head at night, and smile widely and gratefully just at the thought of how life can be so beautiful. A life with God.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To Make Poverty a History

If there is only one magic bullet to put poverty into museum, Jeffrey Sach will definitely declare foreign aid investment as the sole remedy. He makes a bold statement in his book, "The End of Poverty", that impoverished countries are engulfed in the fire of extreme poverty; that the poor who inherit a series of misfortunes such as poor geography, infrastructure, health care, and human capital, are incapable of breaking themselves out from this vicious trap.

He later draws an analogy of a human body to explain the complexity of each society and that economist should be attuned to all possible symptoms that a country has, just like a doctor approaches his patient: he analyzes the diseases, run some tests and then prescribes appropriate treatment. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all remedy in economy, each economist should be well-versed to diagnose a country and come up with different treatments. This is what he calls "clinical economics".

In this framework, financial foreign aid or what Sach often refers to Official Development Assistance (ODA), fits nicely. He argues that rich countries hold the destiny of poor countries and that the rich is responsible to set the poor development effort in motion. On other words, the U.S. and other developed countries should assist and lift the poor until they are able to grab the first rung of the development ladder. How? This is where things get arduous, but let me simplify.

A household will always have three streams of expense (1) Consumption (2) Tax Payments and (3) Savings. In the case of extreme poverty, the household income is absorbed completely to satisfy basic consumption, leaving zero dollar for tax and let alone savings. Without tax, the government could not make necessary public investment. As a result of zero tax and saving, capital per person suffers tremendously. Add to that picture is the problem of population growth and depreciation which both bring down the level of capital per person. Follow the cycle and a freshman in economy would be able to predict that the economy is contracting, leaving households with only enough means to satisfy basic needs and ensnaring the country, again, in this vicious cycle of poverty trap.

OAD (or financial aid) is a booster. It jumpstarts the economy by feeding into three different channels, (1) humanitarian aid to meet households' basic needs which hopefully then increase saving, (2) budget to finance public investment, (3) microfinance program for private business. All of which are directed to increase the level of capital per person. The corollary once these investments are in motion are that households would be able to rise beyond subsistence, the poverty trap is broken, and the economy is lubricant enough to be self-sustaining.

Having understood this, let's incorporate the "clinical economy" theory to this picture. Each country has its own malady and the amount of investment (OAD) to be injected differ from country to country. Thus, it is imperative to know and locate which specific-capital in the country that require greater attention and investment. In general, there are six crucial capitals (Business, Human, Knowledge, Infrastructure, Natural, and Public Insitutional), and comprehensive effort should be made to address all six. Missing one of these would be imicable as each capital is greatly contingent on another capital; ignoring one destroys the whole equation.

I've been explaining a mouthful and it's time for me to stop. Bottom line is, the glorious dream of ending poverty is attainable. What the world need now is for the affluent countries to start investing in these impoverished countries at least until they get a hold on the first rung of development ladder. That's all to it, just like Sach said, "it is not whether the rich can afford to help the poor, but whether they can afford not to."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Conquering Pride with Humility

C.S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christian writer of the twentieth century, once wrote that "the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. (It is) not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." (Mere Christianity, 1952)

The song from Casting Crowns entitled "Who Am I" elaborates a virtue that stands exactly in opposite with Pride: Humility. The song beautifully unpacks several facets of Humility and let the listeners to ponder upon the fact that Pride has stealthily crawled itself into the very center of humans' heart. Humility, in the way this song looks at it, is a God-centered manifestation to personally entrust oneself to the Most High through a growing appreciation of God's grace and an increasing understanding of humans' vice.

Firstly, the song starts out with a simple question "Who Am I?", and then goes at length to explain the extent of God's gracious deeds to the subject. Notice that the whole paragraph (all the entire song for that matters) maintains its focus on God, not on the subject; There is not even a sheer effort to explain the eminence and virtues that the subject may possess. Humility, seen from this light, is not self-centered; it does not marvel at what the self has done nor it basks in self-glory. Humility means the others take precedence. Add to that is the repetitive "Who am I" which really highlights the humility that the self has. It does not mean that one should think lowly of himself, but that even his proudest achievement or whatever factors one uses to define success pale in comparison with God's gracious and selfless deeds.

Secondly, the only explanatory effort on the subject is delivered figuratively and all portray the ephemeral and short-lived kind of life. It looks at how temporal the life that one has, that all accomplishments actually amounts to nothing in the end; it brings to attention how broken and flawed the misdemeanor that one commits on an ongoing basis. A flower would not gaze on its own beauty if it knew that tomorrow it would die or if it knew that apart from its carer, it is just a piece of worthless seed. Along the same line, humility involves admitting that one is nothing without God's gracious intervention and understanding that even with the temporal state-of-life, all accomplishments comes only from God whose hands mercifully and relentlessly shower the self with love.

Lastly, the song firmly ends with a personal declaration that "I am yours". After conceding that all iniquities and limitations render human helpless, one has literally no option beside surrendering faithfully to the firm and loving hands of God. It is also important to note that this is not a self-proclamation, the claim can only happen after God's initiative affirmation (and you've told me who I am), that He is the one who initiate to look and reclaim human back and that human is acting as the recipient of His loving action. Humility takes pride on the fact that one is not in control over a single thing, and that the only appropriate response to life is to rely on what God has done and to entrust one's whole being comprehensively.

In conclusion, the first step to counter Pride is through Humility, and this song exposes several facets of humility on which my sin nature most of the time still prevail. Humility involves diverting the mind from the self, marveling at God's grace, conceding one's wickedness and then entrusting life into God's unfailing love. I believe that this is what Jesus meant when he said in John 15:5,

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

3rd Evidence - My Dyptch Unveiled

Those of you who follow me on Twitter must be very familiar with my Dyptch Project, simply because I keep on buzzing and giving real-time report about what's going on with the project. Now that it is over, I can sit back, relax, and give comment on my own artwork. Well, this is the continuity of the Modulating Meaning assignment and Nature is still the big idea. Please observe this picture (they should be paired side by side, but for the sake of visibility, I separated them) and enjoy whatever emotions or ridicules that this picture may entail. 

As you see it, this is a comparison of good vs bad human nature, and each reflected in its effect to the environment. Humans have power over the environment and they can choose which side they want to engage, to which the environment hinges. 

First picture
1. The butterflies and flowers are preserved in the water drop, each still maintain its natural beautiful color.
2. The scene is desaturated, first, to give a soothing feeling and second, to show that the environment will never be preserved completely. Humans' destructive agenda is inevitable and thus, "black color" will always exist and will never be eradicated. However, some parts are colored to show that at least humans can choose to protect the environment and the beauty is visible to everyone - even stands out.

Second picture
1. Destructive actions from humans part result in chaos and distability in the environment. 
2. The butterflies are moving away from the chaos and flying towards the first picture, in hope to be preserved and protected.
3. Although the scene is colored, I hope you can feel that the color itself is sinister. It should disturb people's tranquility and contrasting it with the first picture, the effect is intensified. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blackberry? Not For Me.

"Sent via Blackberry"

"Sent from my Verizon Wireless Blackberry"

How often do you see those signature lines at the end of your friends' email? Yes, that's how ubiquitous Blackberry (or any other smart-phones) are. Promising omnipresent accessibility and connectivity, these phones draw massive attention and interest,  including mine. I have pondered several times to engage in this new technology, to which I decided not to. Why? Simply because I don't need another gadget to feed my dependency on the web. I know that I need to limit my "connectivity", and turning down Blackberry is one of the ways. 

I'm not an anti-technology person but I'm afraid that technology starts to creep and overtake my life. I wake up every morning just to be drawn automatically to my laptop. Resembling robot in so many ways, I go through similar routine: open my itunes, check emails, twitter account, and weather forecast. Imagine how lost I was when, in one occasion, the internet was not working; part of my chain activity was missing and I was left staring blankly at my laptop, clueless about the next course of action.

The idea of "connecting" wherever and whenever is always pleasant and there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, inordinate desire for unlimited access and connectivity has elevated technology from humans' assistance to master, from a complementary to a must-have item.

Long before the idea of smartphone was even crystallized, I had no problem checking my email once a week. Then, along with increasing accessibility (wireless internet, etc), grows an increasing "need" to check email everyday. Now, replying email at the second it pops up is the business norm. Look at the trend and see if we are using technology or if it is using us? I know myself and I know if I have a Blackberry, it will rob me from my ability to be alone and reflective, and to enjoy social relationship. 

My world with a Blackberry
I would have lesser time to be alone and find it harder to engage in a deep reflection whenever a train of thoughts presents itself. Having a Blackberry means I'm allowing all of those emails and facebook's notifications to divert my attention. I would also hardly devote my entire focus and time to talk with my friends during lunch. I would feel the rushing "urge" to check news or even play games. Having a Blackberry means I'm allowing more digital temptations to stand between a real face-to-face conversation. Basically, I would definitely be drawn constantly to be "connected" to the world out there, and ironically ignoring the world where I am actually live in. 

I would not dare to say that Blackberry is useless because it is not. It has come to my rescue when I need to immediately find information online. It could also reconnect me with my friends in Indonesia through its chatting features. However, as badly as I want to be reconnected at all time, I don't want to be disconnected from the real world as well. I have spent enough time connecting via laptop and I don't need a Blackberry to rob the remainder of my time. My Samsung Phone still serves its purpose perfectly and between these two choices, I draw the line. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why I Am Not an Artist - 2nd Evidence

I can remember clearly what got into me when I created this picture: Desperation! Truthfully, I had no idea what objects to put, let alone to understand the meaning of expressionism (this is an assignment about expressionism painting - don't ask me). 

While I painfully, restlessly and desperately writhed on my seat, I saw the person sitting next to me browsing through several skyscraper pictures. Well, I didn't have to look very far for an inspiration. Being left with no option, I  decided to "borrow" his skyscraper concept and used it in my picture. 

The rest of the objects (globe and background landscape) were totally random. If I were to be asked what's the meaning of this picture (and I'm super relieved that the teacher didn't), my jaw would drop. There was absolutely no meaning. Even if you ask the great Michaelangelo to concoct a meaning out of this picture, I doubt he can pull that off. Because who in the world could give meanings to such picture? Or let me rephrase the question: Who the heck would put a globe, skyscraper, and forest in one picture? Well, a knowledgeable artist will not, but a desperate and novice college student, apparently, will.


Briefly, this is a classic before-after retouching attempt. Every time I look at this picture, I can't stand to ridicule myself "Dude, this was supposed to be a retouching picture - to make her looks better - not an opportunity to create an extraterrestrial creature." Oh my, look at her "white" teeth. Her neck. Her skin. Did I mention her teeth?  Oh, what have I done???

Monday, April 27, 2009

Why I Am Not an Artist - 1st Evidence

I always feel that I have an undiscovered talent in art, and covertly believe that I am a prodigal artist yet to be found. After a lifetime full of curiosity, this quarter I decide to give that theory a try. Thus, here I am, taking ArtEdu252 class - an art class that uses Adobe Photoshop to produce imagery - for the purpose of learning Photoshop and confirming my presumption. However, after three weeks of pain and agony, I come to understand that my theory was based on reckless and irrational judgment. Here is why.

Modulating Meaning Assignment: I was supposed to, at least, convey some meanings through all of these images. My grand idea was to compare and contrast human nature: the good and the bad, and incorporated them in the context of environment. Humans have control over the environment, and the environment will react in response to humans treatment. Good human nature will result in nature revealing its utmost beauty while bad human nature usually entails destruction and disaster.

The problem is not about formulating the idea, but visualizing it in the form of pictures. And this is the best piece that I can come up with. My own critiques:

1. I don't know why, but Hitler looks so disproportionately modified. lol. I think I played with him too much.

2. I tried to make Hitler's background a little darker - to elicit a sinister feeling. Apparently, it didn't work.

3. Don't worry if the "monkey and tiger" picture, hanging over a mountain top, happens to bother you. Me too. I just didn't know what to do with it. I spent so much time cutting that picture and I want to make sure it was up there so everybody could appreciate and recognize my painstaking effort.

4. What's with the baby in the beach? No specific reason. I believe the baby, smiling innocently like that, evokes a positive feeling. So, I hope that the image will enhance people's liking or reduce people's annoyance, and hopefully lessen their probability to question the man behind the piece.

5. There were really no sophisticated techniques used in this piece. I just simply dumped all the pictures, moved them to and fro, played with opacity, hue, saturation and rotation. This is not an issue of complacency, but ineptitude.

6. I genuinely like the "evil" face in the polluted water. I think it is so creative of me. =) Not to mention the combination of butterfly with a forest background. Oh, and also the concept of rainbow with prominent figures representing each side. Beautiful? Yes, I think so too.

(to be continued, with more thought-provoking and mind-boggling pictures)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Five Reasons Why I Love Twitter

Hmmm, do we need any more reasons to use twitter? Since the Ashton vs CNN battle on twitter and the enormous coverage that it received, twitter's users have increased at an accelerating rate. And among these relentless influx of followers are celebrities like Oprah and Larry King. It's maybe a little bit too late to declare this, but twitter is the next big thing and now I'm telling you my reasons why I tweet. 

1. It satisfies my curiosity.
I always want to be in the loop, and twitter gives me access to my friends' daily activities - directly from them and (even better) without me having to beg.  It's like reading People magazine, only in real time. 

2. It gives me a glimpse of stardom.
I have 48 followers!! Hei, that counts for something, at least there are 48 "fans" who think that my tweets carry some weights. Well, maybe not to that extent, but at least it leads me to think that there are 48 people out there who care about what I am eating for dinner. And frankly, it feels good. 

3. It is a way to spread good news
Remember the last time you are so happy that you want the whole world to know? Well, you don't have to look very far now. Twitter allows you to have countless followers (Ashton, at this point, has 1.4millions followers) whom you can share your good news with. Get a raise? Tweet please!

4. It also allows my trivial annoyances / useless rambling to be heard.
Pretending to be smart can takes a toll on me, and often times, my foolish nature comes to materialize in nonsensical rubbishes.  I concede that I need them sometimes, and twitter provides platform to aimlessly tweet anything that comes to mind - and no one would condemn me for saying stupid comments. It's just a tweet anyway, what so big deal?

5. It is the only place where I can "pick n choose" who I wanna follow. 
What an idea! It's no-brainer, why should I? In couple of occasions, some people whom I have no connection with, decided to follow me - and I let them to. But why in the world should I follow them? Twitter (unlike Facebook) is not based on reciprocal connection. Thus, you can follow me even though I refuse to follow you, and I'm not a jerk for doing that. 

I know I only wrote five reasons in the title, but I have an addition of one fundamental reason. Lastly, Twitter helps me to identify my deepest feelings and express them. For a person who is devoid of emotions like me, twitter gives me reasons to rummage through my cabinets of emotions and identify the one that is sitting on the driver's seat. It also helps me to challenge my espoused culture which discourages deluge of feelings. It took me a while to learn that expressing happiness, fear or care is okay, and that letting the world know about them is not unusual. Twitter, in all its simplicities, understands these. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Dollar a Day Keeps Happiness Away

I am who I am, not simply because of serendipity, but because of several significant experiences that shaped my belief, attitude and value. This life-changing experience that I am about to describe has helped me to realize that the pursuit of wealth and achievements does not, and never, translate into a deep sense of satisfaction.

During my senior high school (back in 2005), I went for a "live-in" program: a three nights stay in a secluded undeveloped village. The main purpose of the program is to hone our leadership skills by letting our big-city lifestyle rubs with the villagers' frugal lifestyle. There, I discovered this insight:

For sure, those people are less fortunate than most of us in so many ways; fewer money and possession, smaller chances and opportunities to earn big bucks, and lesser abilities and skills to be successful. Ironically, they have one thing that is missing in most of us: happiness.

Isn't that what matter the most? People climb the corporate ladder in hope of finding happiness at the top. People work around the clock to make sure their good performances will earn them a raise. Students work their head off to get into that billions dollar company. People do all such of things in the name of happiness.

Research has shown that the otherwise is correct and my experience confirmed it. Villagers are happier, firstly because they don't have to do things which actually make them unhappy. Isn't it an irony? In the process of pursuing happiness, we sacrifice happiness: family, friends, and health. I've heard many examples revolving around one similar pattern: loving husband putting countless hours to earn more income for his family. Halfway down the road, tension rises, house becomes cold, smiles become artificial, and relationship becomes sour.

Secondly, money never equals to happiness. Even if you manage to get rich without having to work your way up, true happiness is still out of reach. Villagers are happier living in a small house, working in a farm, and eating a meager meal.


Because they found the key to unlock the door to happiness: deep and meaningful relationships. Family sat together on the asphalt floor to enjoy their dinner. Father and son exchanged stories, mother and daughter laughed cheerfully. The conversation was seasoned with love. The atmosphere was so warm, so close, and so human. Neighbors came over for a late-night conversation over a cup of tea. Thousand stars joined in the conversation silently, and the gentle breeze spread the happiness around. A faint voice whispering inside me, "These uneducated and inconspicuous people have found it!!"

Simply stated, having less actually draws people closer. They are happier because they have less things to focus on: No worry about job security or stock market, no grudge when the discount ends, no temptation to buy new gadget etc. They simply focus on what they have: friends.

It appeals to humans' most basic nature, the need for others. Unfortunately, the pursuit of wealth often times deprives and desensitizes us from that most primal nature. Thus, it is good to strip our materialistic attributes off, and see our humanity in its naked form. Tell me if you see a pathetic and unhappy human. I saw it, thanks to the villagers.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is Peace in The Middle East Foreseeable?

This is a topic that I came to care about not until recently - with no specific reason. Maybe the long and complex history of animosity between both nations have galvanized a sense of uneasiness within me - the cost of profound hatred, paid with the lives of millions, to defend and regain back identity as a human and nation, as promised by the Most High. 

Taking the risk of oversimplifying the complexity of this conflict, I highly doubt that both sides will ever coexist peacefully side by side in the disputed territories - Gaza & the West Bank. Although everybody know that a simple withdrawal from Israel back to its 1967 borders will solve the conflict, everybody know that it is unlikely to happen - if not impossible, at least for the last 60 years.

It's impossible because an inviolable divine mandate - traced back to 5,000 years ago - is the basic foundation for Israel to justify their invasion to the territories. Unfortunately, Palestinians will never submit to that condition as well. Hamas, whose goal is Islam sovereignty, will never stop using virulent attacks to force its agenda. Fatah, whose goal is a Palestinian state, will also never forget the pain and humiliation of Palestinians, banished from their own house. Fifteen years of peace initiatives also failed to neutralize - if not aggravated -  the conflict.

I'm neither proposing a second holocaust as a solution nor condemning diplomatic engagement as an approach, what I'm saying is the search for a two-state solution may not reach an end. It is an either-or problem, either Israelis or Palestinians settlement, and unless the diplomatic engagement stretch to that extent, hope is still our best virtue. A hope that, someday, no more rockets sounds are to be heard, no more terror on children, and no more blood need to be shed. A hope that, someday, peace is no more a hope but a true reality. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Facebook Craze - One of Them?

- Gerry Joeng is writing an entry about Facebook. Check it out guys -

That kind of status update in social-networking website like Facebook is now the second most important headline to be heeded after, of course, the real headline news. Not all people have that tendency of course, but certainly it is for great deal of people - high school and college students, white-collar workers, housewives, the unemployed and what have you.  

Considerable amount of time are spent towards this share-all know-all craze, and those who still insist on not making a Facebook profile (despite numerous friends invitations) are frowned upon - what the fans condemned as late adapter.


I think the other way around is true. People who automatically and readily open Facebook once the browser is set and those who continuously check their Facebook every 30 minutes in their fancy cell phone, are what the society should be frowned upon. 

In this light, Facebook shares one distinct characteristic with cigarette: it's addicting. So far, the most agreeable way out to control addiction is to avoid it - the less is better. As fun as it is to check out pictures, share updates and learn gossips, unaffordable times are wasted into drainless gutter. For you with high level of activities, you know that you cannot afford to throw your time into something so trivial. (caveat: of course not everything in Facebook is trivial, but you know what I mean)

Let's get more reflective in terms of time-effectiveness. At the end of your day, which one would bring you more satisfaction: the mere knowledge of your long-lost friend eating a pancake or real conversation with your long-lost friend over a real lunch. 

The difference is in your choice. Again, the issue is not yin and yang or black and white. Moderation is the key. For me, checking Facebook ten minutes in the morning, five minutes over lunch break, and fifteen minutes at night work just fine. What about you?

Saturday, February 28, 2009


To save the best for the last, I have directly copied and pasted an augmented version of a chapter from one of C.S. Lewis' masterpiece, Mere Christianity. Running along the line with my Valentines day post, this chapter talks about how Christians should behave in the area of love. If you fail to read my post, you have my pardon. But please take time to read this, it is an excellent effort of putting a practical concept of love into words. 


First, as to the meaning of the word. 'Charity' now means simply what used to be called 'alms' - that is, giving to the poor. Originally it had a much wider meaning.Charity means 'Love, in the Christian sense'. But love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.

Christian Love (or Charity) for our neighbours is quite a different thing from liking or affection. We 'like' or are 'fond of' some people, and not of others. It is important to understand that this natural 'liking' is neither a sin nor a virtue, any more than your likes and dislikes in food are a sin or a virtue. It is just a fact. But, of course, what we do about it is either sinful or virtuous.

Natural liking or affection for people makes it easier to be 'charitable' towards them. It is, therefore, normally a duty to encourage our affections - to 'like' people as much as we can (just as it is often our duty to encourage our liking for exercise or wholesome food) -not because this liking is itself the virtue of charity, but because it is a help to it. On the other hand, it is also necessary to keep a very sharp look-out for fear our liking for some one person makes us uncharitable, or even unfair, to someone else. There are even cases where our liking conflicts with our charity towards the person we like. For example, a doting mother may be tempted by natural affection to 'spoil' her child; that is, to gratify her own affectionate impulses at the expense of the child's real happiness later on.

But though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings. Some people are 'cold' by temperament; that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is a sin; and it does not cut them out from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning charity. The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his 'gratitude', you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less.

Consequently, though Christian charity sounds a very cold thing to people whose heads are full of sentimentality, and though it is quite distinct from affection, yet it leads to affection. The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or 'likings' and the Christian has only 'charity'. The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he 'likes' them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on - including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.

This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become - and so on in a vicious circle for ever.

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.

Some writers use the word charity to describe not only Christian love between human beings, but also God's love for man and man's love for God. About the second of these two, people are often worried. They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, 'If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?' When you have found the answer, go and do it.

On the whole, God's love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will. If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.' He will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right. But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

Teriakan Sebutir Salju

Ah, dihujanilah aku dengan butiran salju
kadang hati bertanya
apakah hidup sefana putih dan lembutnya salju
sedetik saja bisa ku memegangnya, lalu hilang begitu saja

Teman, apalah artinya indah salju itu
kalau hanya dinginnya yang kurasakan
andai saja putihnya bisa kugenggam
dan kutebarkan ke relung hatiku

Terdiam ku merenung
tertegun ku mengingat
kala sinar surya masih menyengat panas
tetapi hati terasa sejuk
tempat dimana kumengenal arti manis dan indah
tempat dimana kisah teruntai

Apalah artinya indah ini?
apalah artinya putih ini?
apalah artinya kelembutan ini?
jika ternyata, kisah manis itu tak dapat kuulangi lagi?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Sometimes, there are memories that can’t be erased

Sometimes, there is laughter that can’t be faked

Sometimes, there are feelings that can’t be replaced

Times can’t be reversed

And sometimes, the only thing that you can do is to reminisce on those sweet memories

And leave it to your mind to make it perennial

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Eve in My Eden

Once the forbidden fruit was eaten by Adam and Eve, the first chapter of human problems was officially declared. The fruit of labor does not come easy for men and childbearing does not come easy for women as well. 

Have you ever thought that the punishment was strange? If I were God, I would have separated and forbid Adam, Eve, and The Serpent from meeting each other. The Serpent cunningly tricked Eve to eat the fruit who then passed it to Adam. Negative influence should be confined; Isn't that what all mothers do when they forbid their daughters to meet the next door spoiled brat? 

Fortunately, God understands human. He knows that Adam and Eve need each other and that they are belong together. At this critical point, support and love from each other were needed more than anything else. Thus, separating them is not a feasible punishment. Yes, men and women are not supposed to be separated, and God knows this very well. 

That's why I'm struggling inside, why two people are still separated? Why do millions of stars stand in their way and why does He let the vast ocean divides them? Why did he spare Adam and Eve and let this happens to the somebody? 

The days are too dark and the nights are too cold. Sometimes, what I need is just a flash of her smile and sound of her voice. It's her presence that I miss. And that's all that I need. 

Ah, what makes He think that I am strong enough for this? 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Loving Day

What comes to mind when you hear the world 'Valentine"? It is the day when love is venerated to the most lofty seat and a declaration of love is mostly welcomed and almost for sure is responded with outburst of hysteria (double the effect with heart-shaped chocolates or hand-picked fresh roses). Bottom line: it's all about this cute dreading yet compelling thing called love. 

As time goes by, I feel my understanding of love has been forged and sharpen through life experiences. Love used to be a reciprocal win win relationship, where both parties gained their portion of interest. That is why, loving has never been tough - with likable friends who share common interests, with teams whose sole existence is to please and never rebuke , with car-drivers who never cut you off on the street, with pretty waitress who constantly poses amiable smile - loving is a piece of cake. Slowly, I came to realize that those manifestations do not even come close to love, they simply mean responding logically to other's good deeds with good faith (Because he's good, I am responsible to pay his goodness back).  

Unfortunately, love goes beyond all that. Everyday, there is a battle between conscience and human nature (and most of the time over simple and trivial annoyances) - to love or not to love. Again, I came to realize that genuine love runs across the board, even to those you don't think love-deserving: colleagues who fervently try to bring you down, friends or roomies who talk behind your back, customer service reps who are being rude, and even to those politicians who gobble up people's money. These kinds of manifestations stand in bright contrast with the previous one. They mean responding illogically to other's good or bad deeds, still with good faith. 

Because of that, valentines day - a day of love - should not be confined to a day in February. Everyday is valentines, an opportunity to extend our love to those we love, we despise, and also to those who are in need of love. 

Let me close this entry by sharing one of the many opportunities to share love to those who need it the most. World Vision, an organization dedicated to improve children's welfare, made the privilege to sponsor a child possible. I have been sponsoring two children from Indonesia for more than a year now, and with only $30/month for a child, it has been blessings in my part to see these children grow up with love, medical care, and education in their hands. It is also blessings to know that their future may be better off with a simple dedication from our part to colour the world with love.

Therefore, this is a call to love - and to learn; The learning curve is infinite, and there will always be ample rooms for improvements. But, the time is now to start learning to love genuinely without anticipating 'a catch'. Now is also the time to celebrate love not only on this specific day, but every single day. Yes, let's make every day a valentines day!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Menghidupkan Mimpi

Jiwa ini tak pernah berhenti mencari bayangannya
Tanpa diduga, hati ini tak hentinya terluka

Saat menahan luapan jeritan ini,
Tak ada lagi hembusan eloknya
Saat melangkah mundur,
Sama artinya dengan kehilangan senyumnya
Saat mematahkan kedua sayap ini,
Adalah melihat dia terbang ...
Dan melihat aku dalam kekosongan

Manusia tanpa sayap, 
Hancur dalam asanya,
Menunggu jatuhnya matahari,
Untuk membawa dia kembali

Friday, February 6, 2009


This untitled piece was written almost three years ago, in May 2006. Having tried all kind of sweet-escape methods to alleviate the contained feeling - all to no result - writing this piece became my final relief. In retrospect, I can feel the rage of a man who was rendered powerless by his inability to change / control the predicament that he was in. It started with an invocation - both demanding deliverance and explanation - to the Most High, and ended with a declaration of war against things uncontrollable. 

begitulah manusia diciptakan
penuh kelemahan dan keterbatasan
apakah artinya jarak bagi sang pencipta
apakah artinya samudra bagi sang khalik
apakah artinya gunung bagi yang tak terbatas
semuanya dapat dilewati tanpa usaha yang nyata
semudah bola mata digerakkan dan sesimple bunyi click.

sayangnya, yang tak terbatas bukanlah manusia
saat ingin menyentuh, samudra luas membentang di depan
saat mulut ingin mengucap, langit dan sejuta bintang
saat hati ingin bertemu, jurang dalam terbentang
dengan senyum sinis
alam seakan menertawai keadaanku, seakan merasa hebat
dengan ketidak sempurnaan yang mereka sebabkan.
apakah yang harus kuperbuat untuk melihat senyumnya?
berapa kerikil dan gurun yang harus kujelajahi untuk
merasakan hangat tawanya?
mengapa ada perasaan kangen kalau ternyata perasaaan
ini sungguh menyiksa..
apakah manusia disiapkan untuk menerima kenyataan dan
perasaan ini
sakit pedih dan tak berdaya

begini rasanya jika kangen tapi tak bisa kau ucapkan
teriaklah sekeras mgkn, lontarkan perasaanmu pada
langit, tapi dia tetap diam
tak ada yang mendengar
tak ada yang tau
hanya hati yang merasakan pedihnya

saat rindu tapi tak boleh kau luapkan
beginilah rasanya…….
ingin rasanya aku bisikkan ungkapan ini ke udara bebas
dan biarkan angin sepoi dan daun bergoyang yang
katakan padanya
karena aku tak bisa
karena itu dilarang….

saat jarak memisahkan kita
bukan benci musuhku
bukan keegoisan manusia juga
bukan apapun ato siapapun
tapi saat ini, jaraklah musuhku.

-tercipta karena perasaan yang tidak bisa dikontrol oleh kuatku-
16May2006 1.12am

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Love is in the Air

People call it Valentine's day. It is the time for girls to be pampered with romantic dinner and surprises. For businesses, it is the time to lure guys into buying flowers for twice the usual price. For guys, it is the time when they comply with all of those without much ado; these include putting off their shorts and putting on their vest. 

To join the crowd, "Coloring Every Moment" decided to dedicate this month for Valentine's day. This will, in particular, showcase my "valentine's" journey which many people are not privy to and also uncover another side of me which is more often than not being suppressed and remain untouched. 

You've heard the phrase "Behind every great man is a great woman". Well, in my case, I'm not sure about the "great man" part, but definitely there is a great woman. So, getting into more specifics, all of the upcoming entries are a collection of my forbidden emotions; more expressible in writings, inspired solely by her and dedicated specially to her. 

So, for that woman who has let me see the beauty of sunrise and the darkness after sunset, who has shown me that the sun will rise and also will set, this is for you. Thank you - for coloring my life.