Bird By Bird

“Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Saturday afternoon.

A middle-aged lady was parking her car.

Another car was coming in from the other end.

The lady hit the other car.

The other driver, a man, aghast, got out of his car and rudely asked the lady to step out of the car.

The lady stepped out of her car, shakily, and was instantly met with the man’s anguish.

Rude bellowing, offensive cursing, and angry shouting were met with shocked, anxious, paralysing silence.

Shaken, the lady offered some money to cover the man’s repairs in hope for a reconciliation.

The man took the money and left the lady, while still throwing curses and shoutings.

The lady got back into her care and drove back home safe, though a few shades whiter and a couple (heart)beat faster.

The middle-aged lady was my mother. The reconciliation process went longer than the above case report I was able to put into words, but matters were settled and no injury and/or further ordeals were borne. I asked her in the evening, after everything was resolved, whether she was still in shock– to which, she answered, “No, because it has passed.”

I looked back and noticed, that often, what happens is that we tend to linger on things that are, quite frankly, no longer there. We linger, we ruminate, we obsess, over and on the pain of something that has way passed– sometimes for days, weeks, or even months on end. Perhaps it is because we think by unconsciously holding ourselves accountable for something that has way passed its expiration date would release us from the grips of whatever it is we are trying to break free from– be it guilt, hurt, brokenness. But truth to be told, no wronger lie has ever been told.

From my mother’s story today, I learned a very important lesson. You see, the thing is, we tend to make life appear so complicated when, in fact, it isn’t some rocket science after all. The formula to life is in fact, though discreetly, very simple.

Life is composed of our past, present, and future. What usually happens is that we tend to mix and merge our past, present, and future like they are this one wholeness in which they are not. We tend to let what happened to us in the past carry through as though they are our present; and we tend to let our projections and assumptions of the future backdate as though they are our present.

Our future and our past are not our present.

Nor is our future is our past, or vice versa.

All three times have their own separate timelines.

And contrary to popular beliefs, we are not stuck living in all three.

Our lives are not about our past, nor is it, arguably, about our future. Laws of physics might deny this, but whatever we are living is our present– whatever is happening right here, in the now.  That’s what I usually refer to as reality.

The clock is showing that it is 11:53 PM.

The air conditioner has a whizzing sound.

The air from the air conditioner feels cold as it touches my skin.

I suddenly have an urge to start singing something from Michael Buble’s Christmas album.

I am contemplating whether to sleep or to read after I publish this post.

Those are just a glimpse of my present. And right in this now, in this moment, nothing else matters because they simply do not exist.

The truth is, life is as easy as taking it easy; one by one, bird by bird. You see, when there is a problem, you tackle it. When it is done, you move on. So, it’s: problem, tackle, move on. Problem, tackle, move on. On repeat, all day long.

And then comes the leftover residues. I, out of all people, understand the inconvenience of these leftover residues. Nuisances as they are, but the major error lies in us either trying to dismiss them, or ruminate and obsess too long in them. When these leftover residues emerge, which they will, in the most agonising way, you embrace it. When you’ve embraced it, you feel them. Once you’ve felt them, you move on. So, it’s: embrace, feel, move on. Embrace, feel, move on. On repeat, all day long.

No, really, that’s it. One by one, bird by bird.

Our present is way too precious to be rid off of the peace it deserves just because we, by mistake, intertwine it with things that in fact do not exist. Every time has its own timeline, as will the things that will happen and fall into place.

Just you wait, just you have faith.

Just you take it one by one, bird by bird.

You’ll see.


Follow Through

My mantra changes from time to time and lately it has been fixated on the phrase “follow through”– and it has been my mantra in ever since.

Often we enter the unknown with the neurotic impulse that everything has to be decided; clear; fixed, and so we calculate closely, obsess carefully, and ruminate over and over about the factors and variables to make sure that everything will eventually work. It’s as if a “no” or “I don’t know” are guests who aren’t invited and/or welcome, so we do everything we can so that they won’t even be in the picture.

As of late, I’ve shifted. Almost all the decisions that I’ve made lately is based on just that– following through. I used to resist the idea or notion of deciding something or entering a commitment without knowing how it’d eventually pan out or end up. My brain would flip a hundred eighty degrees– and back again, do somersaults and backflips and all those fancy tricks and schmricks, to make sure I know where I am going. The impulse to make sure I can see the end in mind is far too great for me to compulsively ignore.

But the irony is that the more we think we are in control, the lesser we actually are;

The more I think I’ve got it all figured out, the lesser I actually do.

And funnily enough, the more I accept that I don’t have it figured out, that I don’t know the end game – the happier, and more at peace, I am.

Suddenly, the now becomes such a nice place to live in; a sole refuge that covers and comforts. Something that I failed to realise, or accept, before.

You know, life is what passes us by when we are gripping too hard in hope to selfishly attain clarity after clarity. And talking about life, it has its own funny way of doing things and working out – and more often than not, not in the way we first planned and/or expected. But it will, eventually.

As always, like always.

What if it doesn’t work out, you ask me? Well, then it doesn’t. You open a new page and start over.

What if you hearts breaks in multiple folds, you may ask again? Then you cry it out until you have no more heartbreaks left to cry about, and you start over.

What about failures, you may still stubbornly ask? Then you sulk, be angry, stay angry perhaps, kick yourself in the gut for a while… and you start over.

It’s really that simple.

Today, I take pride in walking towards an end that I know not yet of.

Today, I take the pleasure and gratitude of living life in the now.

Today, I’ve decided to stay in the now.

Today, I’ve decided to follow through…

what I am going through.

Jakarta x Melbourne

“Aku rindu waktuku di Melbourne,” begitu gumamku malam ini saat mataku disuguhi slideshow foto-foto lamaku di Melbourne. Sampailah di satu foto dimana aku sedang duduk berpose di tengah taman di depan University of Melbourne. It was autumn, so the leaves were all on the ground, all yellow and orange of it. Lalu, ada yang menggelitik fokusku dengan foto itu – Langitnya, langit Melbourne, langit kesukaanku.

Macam rindu yang menggelitik ingin bertemu.


Aku itu penggemar langit, dan kota Melbourne itu dibentangi langit yang paling indah. Baik siang, maupun malam. Kalau ia sedang biru, ia biru yang paling jernih. Kalau ia sedang ditutupi awan, aku tidak pernah menyaksikan kontras warna biru dan putih seindah langit Melbourne.

Lalu malam tiba. Jika kau adalah yang beruntung, yang tempat tinggalnya jauh dari keramaian pusat kota dan gedung-gedung tinggi menjulang, kau akan menyaksikan langit malam Melbourne yang tidak bisa kuungkapkan dengan kata-kata. Langit malam Melbourne itu seperti permainan drama, dengan hitamnya si langit sebagai panggungnya, si bulan sebagai pemeran utamanya, dan si bintang-bintang sebagai pemeran pendukung yang paling sempurna. Di saat bulan sedang tidak tampak, si bintang-bintanglah yang menjadi pemeran utamanya.

Dan, sungguh, kawan, waktu seakan berhenti. Hidup tiba-tiba menjadi indah. Paru-paru akhirnya bebas bernafas. Hati akhirnya bebas untuk merasakan.

Indah bukan main.

Lalu, Jakarta.

Sudah setahun lebih sedikit waktuku kembali di ibukota ini. Langit Melbourne sedikit demi sedikit sudah menjadi salah satu penghuni yang tersimpan rapih dalam long-term memory benakku– perannya sudah digantikan oleh rutinitas kota Jakarta yang menyita waktu 25/8.

Kala itu pukul 05:55 di sore hari, dalam perjalanan pulang dari klien. Sekitarku, di Jalan Sudirman, menyuguhi pemandangan tumpukan mobil mengantre (agak  tidak) tertib dengan lampu belakang warna merah yang melintas sejauh mata memandang. Terdengar bunyi klakson berbalaskan bunyi klakson, sesekali terdengar teriakan pengemudi yang naik darah karena tidak mengenal kata sabar; bahkan lagu favoritku yang sedang main di radio kalah volume. Penat, batinku membisik, penat bukan main.

Lalu, tanpa aba-aba dan agak terlalu otomatis, kepalaku mendongak – melihat ke langit yang dipamerkan kota Jakarta pada waktu sedikit setelah maghrib. Warnanya biru, walau agak pudar, namun tetap biru; tertutupkan lapisan awan putih abu-abu; sekejap mulai menggelap menyambut malam. Dan dalam detik itu, yang lain mengendap – dan yang tersisa hanya aku dan langit sore Jakarta.

Kuberanikan memejam mata; dan sekejap penat ini mengantarkanku ke malam itu.

Jalan Sudirman.

Aku ingat beberapa bulan sebelum akhirnya aku memutuskan untuk kembali ke Tanah Air. Pergumulan hebat kala itu diakhiri oleh satu gumam yang terucap kala aku sedang melihat jalan Sudirman dari kejauhan, tepatnya dari atas flyover Kuningan:

Aku jatuh cinta dengan jalan Sudirman.

Malam itu, kulihat gedung-gedung high rise yang menjadi bagian sakral dari jalan Sudirman. Kuperhatikan dengan seksama bagaimana gedung-gedung high rise itu berinteraksi dengan suasana jalanan, mobil-mobil yang lewat, pejalan kaki yang berhati-hati, bahkan dengan langit malam sekalipun – Semuanya melabur menjadi satu kesatuan dinamika yang tak bisa dijelaskan dengan kata-kata, hanya dapat dirasa;

satu kesatuan dinamika yang hanya dimiliki oleh kota Jakarta.

Akhirnya aku menelusuri jalan itu, menjadi bagian dari denyut nadi jalan panjang itu. Kupandangi setiap gedung kulewati, setiap lampu-lampu yang kutemui dari lampu jalan sampai lampu sepeda lewat yang nyala-mati. Kuresapi bagaimana Jakarta membuat seseorang merasa bahwa mereka adalah bagian kecil dari sesuatu yang jauh lebih besar dari mereka– sesuatu yang menarik masuk, dengan sebuah janji yang mendorong kamu untuk melakukan sesuatu– apapun. Itulah energi yang disuguhi Jakarta.

Dan di saat itu, kedamaian angkat bicara dan aku membulatkan niat untuk kembali . . . dan meninggalkan langit Melbourne.

Kembali ke sekarang.

Kulihat-lihat lagi langit Melbourne yang menyapa dari foto-foto lama. Kuingat-ingat lagi perjalanan menelusuri jalan Sudirman di malam dimana aku memutuskan untuk meninggalkan Melbourne, kecintaanku, disana. Kuingat-ingat lagi bermacet-macetan di keramaian Jakarta dengan orkestra klakson mobil yang jauh dari unisono. Kumainkan lagi perasaan bebas yang berdetak bersama setiap langkah kaki dalam waktuku di Melbourne.

Akhirnya hati menyuarakan damai, damai menyuarakan logika, dan logika melengkungkan senyum. Tidak ada yang lebih baik atau lebih buruk; semuanya adalah bagian dari bab-bab berbeda dalam satu buku yang sama. Semuanya menguntai menjadi sebuah cerita, yang tak bisa terlepas satu dari yang lain.

Perasaanku sekarang?

Seperti Jakarta yang merindukan Melbourne,

semacam rindu yang akhirnya bertemu dengan damai, namun tetap merindu.


The Butterfly Effect


Di dalam duniamu yang berisikan tanda tanya dan pijakan tanah yang kerap bergoyang, bergelombang. Dipertemukan dengan kepastian yang tidak pasti, yang baru saja bertatap muka lagi dengan rasa itu yang datang dari jatuh ke dalam hati yang tidak mau menangkapmu. Bukan ceroboh, tapi memang begitu kenyataan pahitnya– ia tidak menginginkanmu.

Berapa banyak tanda tanya yang kamu sedang coba jawab? Atau berapa banyak goresan tanda seru yang kamu sedang coba hadang?

Datanglah suatu pemikiran, sedikit abstrak, yang memaksa untuk berdiam sejenak di tengah-tengah pikiranmu yang teracak. Katanya: 

Kamu itu seorang diri, sendirian; kamu si silo.

Lalu… kacau.

Kawan, pernah dengar konsep “The Butterfly Effect“?

Aku baru saja berkenalan dengan konsep ini, dan momen itu ibarat fascination-at-first-hear bertemu serendipity. Terlalu suka dan tidak sabar untuk mendalami lebih jauh.

Singkatnya, The Butterfly Effect adalah konsep yang menjelaskan bahwa suatu kejadian adalah efek dari kejadian-kejadian sebelumnya. Anggap saja alam semesta ini terdiri dari modular-modular yang berinterkoneksi satu sama lain; semuanya tersambung ke yang lain, tidak ada yang sendiri, bahkan yang paling ujung sekalipun. Apapun yang terjadi di dalam satu modular akan memberikan dampak ke modular yang lain – dan memang (akan) selalu begitu hukumnya.

Masuk ke dalam duniaku, dunia HR.

Di dalam dunia HR, ada konsep yang bernama silo; artinya kerja sendiri, terisolasi dari yang lain. Konsep silo ini biasanya menjadi musuh semua orang, semacam kerikil kecil yang berhasil masuk ke dalam mesin Bugatti Veyron Super Sport; si kecil yang adalah perusak segala kestabilan, si kecil yang selalu sendirian. Dan setelah berkecimpung di dalam dunia HR dan mulai bersahabat dengan lekak-lekuknya dunia itu, yang dapat kusimpulkan dengan pasti adalah proses HR tidak mengenal si silo yang menyebalkan itu.

Di dalam proses HR, semua fungsi dan proses berjalan secara terinterkoneksi dan terhubung satu sama lain. Bolehlah kita sebut sebagai suatu ekosistem. Hal semudah Organization Structure akan menentukan job description dari setiap fungsi yang akan dibagi lagi menjadi per level; dan dari situ ia juga yang menentukan competency profiling per fungsi, per divisi, dan per level. Selebih itu, ia juga yang membantu menentukan arahan career path – dan dari career path itu, ia juga akan menentukan development plan per individu. Semuanya berfungsi sebagai satu kesatuan, semacam ekosistem, yang seolah menjunjung tinggi nilai gotong-royong.

Semuanya berinteraksi, berkesinambungan, tidak ada yang sendiri-sendiri.

(Intermezzo: Bahkan mungkin, dunia HR ini jauh lebih mendekati utopia daripada situasi di Indonesia saat ini; yang lebih kenal konsep pecah-belah dibandingkan menjadi sebuah ekosistem. Suatu gambaran situasi menyedihkan yang melampaui pilu, hampir ngilu, terlalu malu. Politik? Mungkin maksudnya tahi itik.)

Kembali kepada The Butterfly Effect.

Satu kejadian itu mempunyai kuasa yang sangat besar; ia menjadi penentu untuk melahirkan atau menghilangkan kejadian berikutnya. Tidak ada satu pun kejadian yang tidak memberi dampak kepada kejadian selanjutnya. Semuanya adalah modular yang tersambung di dalam suatu ekosistem yang dinamis, dengan hukumnya yang mutlak dan kritis.

Tidak ada konsep seorang diri, tidak ada yang namanya konsep sendirian.

… Begitu juga kamu.

Si abstrak mengatakan kamu si silo yang sendirian, mengusik dengan mengatakan kamu tidak menarik. Duniamu runtuh, hatimu ngilu, bahkan tempat berpijak pun tidak ketemu. Hanya karena dia yang tidak menginginkanmu.

Kamu tahu? Hanya karena kamu tidak bisa melihat sekarang melalui airmata dan hati yang terpecah belah, bukan berarti si abstrak benar. Karena apa?

Karena lalu… kamu bertemu The Butterfly Effect– 

dan si abstrak, dengan persuasi bodohnya itu, sudah tidak kuasa membohongimu lagi.

Selamat datang kembali, kawan – Sudah siapkah menemukan pijakanmu kembali?


Potret Jakarta, 2017

Sedikit cuplikan Jakarta di tahun 2017, bukan 1989 –

Saya bukan seorang yang mengikuti naik turunnya, keluar masuknya, dunia politik. Toh buat apa. Bahkan tadinya pun saya tidak mau mengikuti cerita Ahok, tapi mungkin kali ini agak susah. Karena akhirnya, setelah sekian lama, Indonesia– Jakarta– berkenalan dengan seorang figur yang sungguh rela, mau, dan berani untuk memperkenalkan kata perubahan; dan terlebih lagi, rela, mau, dan berani untuk melakukan perubahan. Nggak usah muluk-muluk dengan omong kosong, tapi lihatlah hasil-hasil yang sudah berhasil dibuat. Sudah, itu saja tolok ukurnya. (Dan jika masih ada yang bilang tidak ada, maaf, mungkin ada baiknya Anda mengecek gejala schizophrenia.)

Keputusan Majelis Hakim untuk akhirnya memenjarakan Ahok 2 tahun sudah dibuat– atas landasan apa, ya saya dan teman saya yang lawyer pun juga masih berdebat. Maksudnya, nggak jelas. Tapi ya sudah, kita terima saja. Apa lagi kah yang bisa kami perbuat? Ya sudah lah.

Indonesia, kesayangan, apa yang sedang terjadi? Nilai-nilai apa yang sedang dijunjung, nilai-nilai apa yang harus kami, kaum muda, ajarkan anak-anak kami kelak? Bahwa kesuksesan hanya berpusat kepada apakah kamu kaum minoritas atau mayoritas, dimana bahkan hukum pun jadi arena permainan? Apakah begitu?

Sulit untuk hati dari setiap kami untuk tidak ikut sakit mengikuti alur cerita ini. Karena itu tadi, ini adalah cerminan dari situasi di Indonesia saat ini; Ahok hanyalah sebagian kecil yang kelihatan (the tip of the iceberg). Dan ketika cerminan itu sebegitu penuh distorsi, dimana lagi kah kami harus memijakkan kaki kami?

Ahok, sing kuat yo. Kalau kata mantra saya setiap saya jatuh, “this too shall pass.” In this case, I too hope that something even better will come out of this— kalau tidak, ya hmm.. mungkin agak terlalu sayang pengorbanan.

Saya mah nggak salam satu, dua, atau sepuluh jari, saya mah salam Persatuan Indonesia aja ya.


Some Pointers

  • Find the good in every day, in every situation, and in every person.
  • Never discriminate when it comes to love, and smiles. Smile a lot.
  • It is okay to be dumb once in a while.
  • It is okay to not know everything.
  • It is okay to not have everything figured out.
  • It is okay to cry once in a while a lot, with or even without reasons. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
  • You are allowed to work like a machine. You are also allowed to have a break and be a couch potato all day week long.
  • You are allowed to overuse “I love you”s.
  • You are allowed to be clingy and needy once in a while. Allow yourself to be loved.
  • Allow yourself to feel loved.
  • People will always talk, and will always have something to talk about. Let them talk. Ignore.
  • Take life at your own speed, at your own pace. Run your own race. Do not compare.
  • Any day is a good day to make a (new) start.
  • You are allowed to have a writer’s block. You are also allowed to not feel like writing. Those do not make you any less of a writer.
  • You are also allowed to pick watching TV over reading a book. That does not make you any less of a reader.
  • One bad performance does not make you a bad singer.
  • After a performance, do not fixate too much on a mistake (or mistakes). Chances are nobody might even notice.
  • No matter how hard life gets, life will always throw emergency kits in times and places that you least expect it. Always be open to hope.
  • Life throws the best surprises. (But also sometimes, the worst.)
  • “The good outweighs the bad even on your worst day.”
  • No dream is ever a low dream.
  • When your best friend tells you that you are a drama queen, she usually has a point.
  • Life is nothing, nothing but good.

Communication 101

Been ditching the article-writing scene and resorting back to more of prose, poetry, and at times free reflections; but a recent discussion regarding communication calls for one again, and a point-by-point one at that too.

Communication is, has been, and will always be the backbone of a steady relationship. When you lack communication, it’s a sure way of plummeting your relationship to the ground – and it usually starts with the smallest of thing and somehow winds up as webs and webs of inter-coiled and intertwining issues, major issues. (Read: Drama, major drama.)

And I’ve seen and experienced firsthand how the sturdiest relationships falter just because of a minute flaw in communication. So, if this is the world of David and Goliath, communication is surely the David to the Goliath – One stroke from the humble slingshot, and down Goliath goes.

After a brainstorming session over and/or after lots and lots of girl-talks (lots!), endless arguments with the significant other (too many!), and many reflective moments and down-times, I’ve come up with a few pointers to help you be on your way to mastering the David of any relationship.

  • Use the language of your conversation partner.

Take note of the language that your conversation partner uses. Like, perhaps what are the words or jargons that s/he uses to convey an idea, or any word or expression that s/he uses repeatedly. Use that in your sentence. Remember, psychology says that the easiest way to gain trust is if by mimicking (even in micro amounts), because when we mimic someone – that sends the message that we like them. (And people generally like to be liked, so you get the idea.)

  • Follow their non-verbal language and/or cues.

Only 7% of communication is verbal – the remaining 93%? It’s all non-verbal. If s/he leans in, try leaning in a bit; if s/he touches her hand, try briefly touching your hand too; if s/he smiles, then don’t be the idiot who doesn’t smile back (but this one’s given, I sure think so).

Also, pay attention to their pace, intonations, inflections, deflections, basically how they sound like. Except when they’re panicking – Do not follow their panicked pace. Trust me, you do not want to be the buffoon who worsens someone’s panic attack.

  • Always be on their side.

This one’s important, too important even. Do not ever, ever, ever go against the person. It is far too easy to resort to finger-pointing and name-blaming when in a heated argument, and when that happens, conversations turn to war instead of being a media to reconcile. It’s the same concept as do not fuel fire with more fire. Trust me, when you make a person feel like you guys are against each other, puppies start to die. I’m kidding, but it really does not help any situation – and that’s where and when love dies. (I guess that’s the same as puppies dying, actually. Sad, so very sad.)

Remember that to gain trust, patch bridges, and to communicate – You have to remind your conversation partner that you both are a team. You are never against that person, you are always with that person. Never against, always with. So, avoid phrases like, “This is all your fault,” “You ruin my night,” or “You’re wrong.” When the urge comes, have the control over your mouth and shut it down – Stay silent. Don’t say anything and just cool your head off.

Trust me, it’s not worth it, it’s not worth it.

  • Never, ever play the guilt card.

Sentences like “How could you?” and “You’re doing this to me after everything I have done for you?!” should and shall  always be avoided. Like the point before, when the urge comes in a heated argument – Stay silent. Do not let it escape your mouth. It’s not worth it. Remember that to gain trust, it’s never against, it’s always with.

  • Listen to understand…

…Not listen to reply.

Too much of listening nowadays is done for an entirely wrong reason. Too much of listening nowadays is for the purpose to reply back, rather than to fully understand. When you listen to reply, your head is far too busy formulating your impressions and expectations, and this trap will put you in a I-am-better-than-you stance – and that’s exactly putting you against your conversation partner.

Practice listening solely to understand. Ask questions that are really for the purpose of getting to know the what, how, when, and where of the person better.

And solely listen. As you know, more often than not, people just want to be listened to.

(Amateurish and mostly derived from enough personal observations and some discussions with a  few ‘experts’ (mostly self-proclaimed; but seriously I did speak with one Certified Business Coach who has facilitated many communication seminars, she was pretty cool) – I do hope you still enjoy the short writing above and may perhaps get something out of it too!)