Life moves pretty fast

You have to be the light of yourself.

#35 - On hiatus

This journal is on hiatus mode on while I’m pretty busy with my academic life. I almost there, 3/4 of this long and winding journey. But, I think it is essential to put an extraordinary priority in my personal life, so that I will not ruin the rest of 3/4 game.

As days and nights I have spent my time here in the library, trying to put some thoughts on my paper and my thesis. With all indescribable feelings, that plagued of tiredness, some loneliness, gloomy, and anything in between occurred, I think I deserve to fight it back all by myself. Haha, I know, it just add some feelings more and more, but yeah I’m the master one here. Fighting alone is one of my specializations, though. Since it’s better rather than inviting people that most likely would ruin everything with their unnecessary thoughts and opinions. Phew, been there for entire life, and I need to regain my boundary. At least, at this crucial moment, for a while. 

So, let me take my privilege moment here. Let me feel this all senses patiently. Let me embrace myself, for oneself should be presence as their own true light, like Krishnamurti having said over and over again. 

Alright, if anything, please find me on my personal email address. Please take a good care too. I’ll see you, when I see you again, no?

Over and out. 

#34 - A week in Bendum

It is a precious seven days journey in Bendum as far as I could remember, when I saw the blue sky of Manila this morning. Perhaps, the sense would not be as similar as in Bendum. Perhaps, the excitement would not be as strong as I have spent some of my time there. Nevertheless, it was indeed an incredible week with plenty of lesson learned for myself. 

Bendum is a ‘consolation place’ where I could see how people are trying to find peace and harmony through nature, culture, human relationships, and education, and language. For the latter become a significant thing that I would like to develop more in my paper. Nevertheless, why I called Bendum as a ‘consolation place’? For me that words has created such profound meaning of a place where one can learn on how to stand up and wrestling again in their life. For every step, every interaction, every effort, and every hope of Pulangion people to sustain their life without loosing their sense of belonging as a community.

Life in Bendum seems so basic. Yet, apparently it is not like what I think later. Eventually, I can assure myself that one should understand life more than glorifying intellectual knowledge. For intellectual knowledge I have gained through classes, theories, conferences, reading literatures and academic journals that have shaped my personal understanding toward such critical thoughts to see the world; but it would not have been possible if we never open ourselves for self-knowledge through day to day interaction, self inquiry and contemplate it through daily life practices. For I believe, both intellectual knowledge and self-knowledge are interweaving and truly important to reshape our understanding for every circumstance in our life.

As far as I know, I am a big supporter of critical literacy. For knowledge is important for us to give it a space, to stop for a while, and ask how your life has been carried out all the time.  For once in a moment we need to stop, to contemplate, and ask necessary questions but not always relate about life itself, but our lives.  For you, me, everyone we know, the ever elusive, and the intangible ‘I’ that will never be stopped.  But here is the critical point when one can also be too deeply in the intellectual knowledge. Yet, one forgets on how to live life, to deal with fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and everything in between.

Our lives are actually a signal of collective notion that I got in Bendum. I believe that what happened in Bendum should have a strong connection in our daily life, in every corner of the world. In seven days, I have seen how Pulangion have struggled with poverty, marginalization, isolation, medical access, and the most important thing is how education and language become weapons to struggle and continue their life.

Here, knowledge that I am being discussed in previous page shall be understand as a process of empowering oneself, others, and community. In Bendum, I have seen children struggle to study with all the limitation of access that they have had now and then. However, I have seen their spirit to actually do the things that they love, to take chances, in order to understand the actual situation that they have. For me, that is the bravery side of life when we actually prefer to wrestling rather than to dancing in our life.

Through education, either from intellectually knowledge or self-knowledge, I believe it will lead them (read: the Bendum’s children) to find the beauty of the world. In intellectually knowledge manner, they have learned on how to use multi-lingual education to support their understanding about education based on culture and environment. In self-knowledge, I can assure myself that these children have a profound relationship of the surrounding life, of the water, forest, and everything in between that could sustain their identity in the future.

For the journey was never merely about bamboo planting, exoticism of life without electricity, and how instantly we have built sort of attachment with Pulangion people; but this is all about on how to renew our point of view of others, since the art of living is to cherish and gratitude for everything that happen in oneself, to express trust in our attitude, to expand the appreciation of life, and the most important thing is to build the sense of companionship as a whole community. 

Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

 image

El Rodeo, May 26th, 2014

Dear future me,

How are you?

I am waiting to write something for you, something that have lingered in my mind for period of time. Apparently you survive with this journey. Halfway done. And I am proud of it. At least you have tried to prove something to yourself. Well done. But in the next halfway, you may learn something in life once in a while, and see if you are actually going better and wiser. This is just a casual reminder, so that you can push yourself to the limit that you never imagine it before. If anything happen, I am still proud of you, since you would try it over the time.

The journey was amusing, wasn’t it?

Now, I want you to take a good five minutes. Can you? Please? Take a deep breath. Take it slow. Release all your anxiety, your passion, your past memories, just take your own moment with the air and its atmosphere. Are you happy there? Well, I know, this is such a cliché question. Happiness is overrated, but let’s to be honest, when was the last time you feel the happiest moment in your life? Wait, you are just graduated from the university, aren’t you? Is that your truly happiness? Or what?

Don’t answer now. Oh, I forgot, you can’t. Silly me. But you may write me back in another blog post.

Do what you have to do, carry your own luggage, as you did previously. Make the most out it, as you have always did before. Respect people, listen to them without judging, as you never live their lives. A grain of salt from me: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. For life is not about making mistakes, but how to make things right. In the near future, Puri, so many things will bring joy to you. Or disappoint you. And if they do disappoint you, promise me, never let them break your heart. Just chin up, keep on walking, and eventually you’ll get there. Enjoy it when you’re there. And smile like the way you’re smiling now.

I wish you luck, my dear self. Definitely, I’ll see you when you get there.

Yours,

Me

PS: Surely you got somebody that you can meet halfway on the journey, okay?

Religion is like going out to dinner with friends. Everyone may order something different, but everyone can still sit at the same table. This is my simple religion: There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. 
Dalai Lama.

Religion is like going out to dinner with friends. Everyone may order something different, but everyone can still sit at the same table. This is my simple religion: There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. 

Dalai Lama.

#32 - The wonders of life

I had a minor surgery earlier this month. Something went wrong on my left upper eyelid. Thus, based on medical consultation, I had to removed it before it become something serious that need more treatment in the near future. I was pretty worried, but the doctor tried to convince me that everything should be fine after I pass the surgery. Well, it went well. My left eye was quite swollen, but everything is manageable.

While, this month is my last month here in CR. Classes were so demanding. A stacking of readings, group works, and of course presentations have always made my day. But I knew I have to ensure everything so that I can manage my expectation between class and things that I have to run to. Eventually, in the end I know managing expectation is the safe zone that a human being can hope to.

As I said earlier, my minor surgery went well. It only spent 35 minutes from I had expected before. Some friends were waiting outside of the room. Even 2 of my professors came to visit me in the hospital. I really appreciated them for time and compassionated they have shared with me throughout this time being.

You know, I don’t really like hospital that much. I don’t even have enough experienced to use any medical facility in the past. What I knew was some easy drugs prescription that I got from clinic, even some “warung” drugs like I sometimes consume for diarrhea, influenza, and whatnot. But, this time, I need to deal with it.

Yeah, medical care is expensive. Albeit, we are all know the cycle of life: birth, grow up, sickness, ageing, and death would repeat as it use to be. But, caring your own luggage is much important. Suddenly those notion popped up in my mind when I tried to befriended with cream ceiling in the hospital before I went my surgery. I remembered my mom’s face, all the beloved ones that I really care. And I realized the fragile of life, the unexpected things that we have always avoided since we tend not to be ready for the worst. Such a quick contemplation about life before the nurses carried in my bed to the room.

***

After the surgery, I had to cope with all activities. I didn’t take any bed rest time. For a graduate student attending marathon classes from morning to afternoon is the best cure. That’s all I need. Although, for sure, my eye was a bit swollen, but I just need to concentrate to the lectures from listening comprehensive. I managed not to read a bunch of readings, but slowly but sure after my vision was getting back, I could wrapped the readings in a week or so.

This time being I have had learned that reality is something that we have to deal day by day. Everything may look chaos. You may lose your hope when the things are not going as you expecting. But life is not life when you can’t handle all the things on your hand, either in bad or in a good way.

Our capacity as human being leads us to the everyday life, wherein by having your own life is actually to define your role. To gain your independence to decide what is the right thing to do, to refinement from the bad experiences, to learn and to unlearn something, to continually prove, disprove, and improve your quality life. To share your best experience with others, while definitely to face your fears, your anxiety, and the perpetuate loneliness.

I’m sure when we have encountered our comfort zone, with our best friends, all the familiar stuff, to find, grasp, and keep all the security of life in our pocket, thus we tend not to want to take the second chance, to challenge our self, even we are afraid to keep questioning all silly and naive questions. For me, this time being is the true moment when I actually been using that for examine my life. What I truly need versus what I just want to have. What I believe versus the believe itself. What is worth to fight versus something that I just defend it just because of ego and selfishness.

This joy of life wouldn’t just merely about happiness, excitement, and self- fulfillment. For I cherish every single moment of my life, with passion, tears, sweat, agony, all the loved ones that have always supported me, their smiles, their concerns, laughs.

This long path life, no one saves us but ourselves. So that we can bold enough to run our life. 

Be calm. God awaits you at the door.

Farewell, Gabo. Like all my favorite things, even we need to let go our favorite author. The journey of tales has been amazing. Thank you for all the inspirations. It was one of the best moments in my life as your reader.

#30 - Linda Christanty dan Indonesia

Tuturan ini khas Linda. Tidak meluap-luap namun juga tidak sekadarnya. Linda menulis dengan hasrat yang dijelujurinya melalui konsistensi kedetilan gaya bertutur. Tidak hanya itu, Linda pun piawai dalam merangkai plot yang tidak sembarangan ia bangun sebagai sisipan dramaturgi kisah hidup mulai dari orang-orang kebanyakan disepanjang Jawa sampai Aceh; hingga beberapa nama-nama penting seperti Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Wiji Thukul, Bre Redana, dan Dede Oetomo. Kesan ini yang muncul ketika saya menggenapi ke-200 halaman dari buku kumpulan tulisannya. 

Seperti anak muda kebanyakan, Linda juga ikut membaca Catatan Harian Seorang Demonstran karya Soe Hok Gie. Bukan sebuah kebetulan belaka jika buku itu akhirnya memancing banyak orang dan tidak terkecuali Linda untuk berani menentukan pilihan hidupnya. Keputusannya untuk hijrah ke pulau Jawa tidak hanya digunakan Linda sebagai proses evolusi intelektual, namun mengutip catatan ayah Linda dalam buku ini, bahwa kehidupan di luar rumah itulah kehidupan yang sebenarnya, karena setiap anak harus belajar tentang kehidupannya sendiri. Dan Linda mungkin telah menemukan kehidupannya sendiri kini.

“Diskriminasi menghasilkan semacam ludruk, sekaligus kengerian”. Kutipan langsung dari paragraf ketujuh di bagian kata pengantar, bisa menggambarkan pucuk-pucuk evolusi cara berpikir Linda atas berbagai ketidakadilan yang muncul dari sikap penguasa yang terus membungkam setiap bentuk perbedaan. Kepekaannya yang kian terasah dan diikuti dengan sikap kritis atas perubahan sosial politik yang tidak kunjung menjadi baik itu semakin memancing dirinya untuk melakukan satu perubahan. Perubahan tidak cukup datang dari ruang-ruang kelas, diskusi, atau duduk dan membaca setumpuk karya sastra yang selama ini amat digemarinya. Saya melihat Linda telah mengalami rangkaian fase kegelisahan. Linda masih tetap mencintai buku dan ruang-ruang diskusinya. Tapi sekali lagi, mengutip deretan kalimat di kata pengantar buku ini, “Perubahan adalah praktik. Dan ia harus dimulai saat itu juga, detik itu juga. Perubahan adalah seni. Ia tidak sekadar membutuhkan sikap keberanian dan kesabaran, melainkan juga kreativitas”. Perubahan yang menuntut tindakan praktik, seni dan kreativitas adalah pelengkap dari kumpulan diskursus yang masih ia lakukan dan semakin mengayakan karakter Linda Christanty.     

Nuansa sastra yang kental harus diakui menjadi benchmark Linda Christanty. Tidak mengherankan karena masa mudanya banyak dihabiskan untuk menggeluti karya sastra klasik, khususnya karya-karya sastra Jepang dan Prancis. Nama-nama seperti Yukio Mishima, Yasunari Kawabata, dan Haruki Murakami adalah sastrawan-sastrawan yang memberikan pengaruh besar dalam teknik kepenulisan Linda. Sebagaimana diakui olehnya para penulis Jepang itu mampu memilih kata serta diksi yang sederhana, tanpa ledakan-ledakan emosi, seperti yang bisa kita baca dalam karya-karya novel modern Haruki Murakami yang telah diterjemahkan ke dalam banyak bahasa, salahsatunya yang terkenal adalah Norwegian Wood.[1]

Karakter tulisan Linda memang layak untuk mendapatkan apresiasi. Tidak seperti jurnalis kebanyakan, minat Linda dalam mengelaborasi genre jurnalisme sastrawi yang tidak sekadar mengutamakan kedalaman tulisan namun juga bagaimana sebuah tulisan itu bisa memikat hati pembaca, mengaduk-aduk emosi pembaca, hingga meninggalkan kesan usai membacanya; Persis seperti apa yang saya rasakan kini. Buku ini bukan novel juga bukanlah cerpen yang ditulis sepenggal-sepenggal, namun buku ini memadukan teknik jurnalistik dan pengalaman Linda dengan karya-karya sastra, yang hasilnya bisa dinikmati dalam 17 karya prosa ini.

Ketujuh belas prosa ini melebihi catatan biasa. Linda menuliskannya tidak hanya sebagai catatan personal atas perjalanan, pengalaman, gagasan, keprihatinan dan kepeduliannya untuk sesama, namun melampaui itu semua, Linda berusaha mengajak pembaca untuk melihat Indonesia dari kacamata yang lebar dan jernih. Indonesia bukan hanya persoalan Jakarta per se, ketamakan pemilik modal untuk meningkatkan akumulasi modal, eksploitasi sumber daya alam, dan keangkuhan penguasa untuk bisa menguasai setiap jengkal kebebasan yang kian menjadi benda langka di negeri ini. Menjadi manusia Indonesia juga berarti menjadi manusia yang harus mengasah terus kepekaannya dalam realita sosial sehari-hari.

Mari saya ambilkan contoh bagaimana Linda memotret persoalan-persoalan sensitif dan ‘besar’ namun dalam sudut pandang personal dan akrab di mata kita. Hikayat Kebo (lihat halaman 34-55) adalah potret bagaimana problematika kehidupan urban tidak bisa dipisahkan dengan kehidupan politik Indonesia. Kisah kematian Kebo yang tragis pada medio 2001 kiranya masih aktual untuk kita resapi. Kebo bukan publik figur yang bisa setiap hari memenuhi headline di media cetak dan elektronik. Kebo hanyalah preman kota yang hidup dengan caranya sendiri. Menghabiskan waktu untuk berjudi, mabuk, dan main perempuan dan tidak peduli esok mau makan apa. Hidup santai a la Kebo mungkin menyenangkan, tapi juga penuh risiko. Nah, peristiwa Kebo adalah contoh kompleks untuk melihat karakter masyarakat Indonesia yang kini dikuasai oleh kekerasan kerumunan.

Dulu, jika negara handal dalam menghilangkan nyawa seseorang yang berseberangan dengan paradigma sentralistiknya, kini, keahlian semacam itu tidak memerlukan spesifikasi khusus lagi. Kekerasan datang dari segala penjuru, bisa datang dari etnisitas, agama atau keyakinan tertentu (lihat kisah Adakah Pelangi dalam Islam; halaman 88 – 100), pendukung partai politik, atau orang biasa yang tiba-tiba memiliki kuasa untuk melakukan kekerasan dan menghilangkan nyawa seseorang, bahkan dengan alasan yang sepele sekali pun. Aksi main hakim sendiri hingga merenggut nyawa Kebo, problematika khas kekotaan seperti kemiskinan struktural, ketiadaan akses tempat tinggal bagi orang miskin, ketiadaan akses ekonomi, penggusuran, kekerasan dalam rumah tangga yang dialami Muah (istri Kebo) adalah penggalan-penggalan drama yang tidak bersandar pada skenario fiksi karena di masa lampau negara telah mempertontonkan sebuah pertunjukan kolosal, berdurasi panjang dan bertemakan kekerasan. Sebuah ironi yang masih terus membayangi.

Kita tentu tidak menyangka ketika kebebasan digegap-gempitakan, dirayakan, disukacitakan di seluruh pelosok tanah air, namun diam-diam kekerasan tengah berkembangbiak, menyusup di mana-mana dengan kembali menunggalkan bentuk kebenaran dan menyingkirkan mereka yang dianggap berbeda. Kisah petrus (baca: penembakan misterius), kasus penculikan dan rentetan kekerasan/pelanggaran HAM masa lalu adalah kisah yang sejatinya tidak boleh kita lupakan. Kisah-kisah semacam ini bisa terulang jika kita tidak pernah belajar dari apa yang telah dialami oleh para martir terdahulu. Wiji Thukul misalnya, kisah hidup orang hilang yang turut dituturkan dalam buku ini menjadi simbol abadi atas perjuangan kaum urakan yang lebih bisa memaknai hidup ketimbang para penguasa yang memimpin negeri ini.

Kisah pinggiran lain yang juga dinarasikan dalam prosanya berjudul Gaya Nusantara (baca halaman: 101 – 122). Kisah ini mengangkat pengalaman Dede Oetomo yang akhirnya memutuskan untuk melakukan coming out dengan status dan orientasi seksualnya. Sekali lagi, dengan gaya tutur subtil dan detail, Linda mengajak para pembaca untuk mengenal lebih dekat kehidupan komunitas LGBT (lesbian, gay, transeksual, biseksual), melepaskan semua sekat pakewuh dan mendudukkan mereka sederajat dengan manusia lainnya tanpa tabir diskriminasi maupun hal-hal lainnya yang bisa menurunkan derajat dari prinsip kemanusiaan itu sendiri.

Namun, di sisi yang lain Linda juga menghadirkan sosok-sosok lain yang selama ini berada di garis batas yang sering berseberangan. Mereka yang mengabdi kepada negara, menjadi serdadu untuk terus mengisi periuk nasi. kisah Batalion Terakhir (baca halaman: 135-138) adalah kisah yang menceritakan kehidupan tentara yang ditempatkan di pos penjagaan Ulee Lheue, Aceh. Mereka yang berada dalam kesatuan Yonif 400/Raider menjadi kesatuan pamungkas di Bumi Serambi Mekkah itu selama sepuluh bulan terakhir. Susunan kalimat yang menggelitik dilontarkan oleh Iqbal, fotografer dari jakarta yang menemani Linda di sana, “Jangan-jangan setelah perang ini mereka malah mempertanyakan kenapa harus ada perang, merasa sia-sia jadi tentara.” Dalam tulisan ini, Linda berusaha mendudukkan kembali konsep cinta kasih pada sesama dengan tidak memberikan perbedaan status yang disandangnya dengan para serdadu itu.

***

Buku ini hadir nyaris tanpa cacat. Namun beberapa catatan kritis ingin saya bagi di sini, khususnya untuk memperkaya tema-tema prosa yang telah dikemas dengan baik oleh Linda. Pada bagian Wiji Thukul dan Orang Hilang (baca halaman: 56 – 73), Linda mengupas habis sosok Thukul, perjuangannya, hingga detik-detik Thukul dihilangkan. Namun, Linda nampaknya lupa untuk menyisipkan sisi intelektualitas Thukul. Fakta Thukul adalah pembaca setia dari karya-karya pemikir kiri, seperti Karl Marx, Raymond Williams, Bertolt Brecht, Antonio Gramsci adalah fakta menarik yang belum dielaborasi oleh Linda. Sampai sejauh mana karya-karya klasik dari para pemikir itu mempengaruhi alam pikir Thukul mungkin sudah bisa kita tebak, namun akan lebih baik jika Linda bisa menambahkan daya pikat intelektualitas seorang Thukul yang ikut mempengaruhi state of mind-nya.

Dari Jawa Menuju Atjeh menawarkan bentuk dokumentasi yang segar. Linda benar-benar tahu bagaimana jurnalisme tidak sekadar mewartakan sebuah informasi kepada masyarakat luas, namun juga jurnalisme bisa digunakan untuk mengangkat sisi-sisi sensitif yang jarang atau bahkan tidak pernah tereksplorasi dari banyaknya informasi yang akhir-akhir ini mudah didapat. Vitalitas Linda dalam berkarya harus kita hargai, sebagai wujud konsistensinya di dalam dunia informasi ini.

Biografi mini dari kehidupan Kebo, Pram, Bre, Thukul dan Dede Oetomo adalah kisah-kisah perjuangan sejati untuk meraih kebebasan yang layak mereka dapatkan. Dan biografi-biografi mini ini bisa memberikan inspirasi kepada kita semua untuk melakukan perubahan menuju Indonesia yang lebih baik. 


[1] Beberapa judul novel Murakami juga telah diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Indonesia seperti Norwegian Wood dan Dengarlah Nyanyian Angin; judul buku yang lain sebagian bahkan sudah bisa diakses dalam terjemahan bahasa Inggris.  

It is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical will live the relation to another as something alive.

—Rainer Maria Rilke. Interestingly, this quote suddenly appeared on Kissing Jessica Stein’s movie as well as Hare Krishna’s part. The latter was quite cute, for Stein talked to Helen in the middle of the street.