Liburan Itu Ibarat Es Krim

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Image was taken by Madeline Tallman, from unsplash.com

Liburan itu ibarat es krim. Pasti pernah kan makan es krim?

Ada seorang anak muda yang mengatakan es krim itu tidak bisa bertahan lama, harus segera dimakan karena meleleh dengan cepat. Penafsiran yang sepertinya lebih mengarah ke pemahaman es krim sebagai suatu objek yang harus segera dikonsumsi. Ada sedikit unsur keimpulsifan dalam penafsiran itu, bahwa es krim harus segera dimakan. Maklum yang mengatakan itu juga masih seorang muda. Hidup bagi kaum muda memang cenderung lebih mengarah ke memakai, mengonsumsi apa yang ada di hadapannya. Tidak ada yang salah dengan pemikiran itu karena cukup sesuai dengan kebutuhan perkembangan yang masih berpusat pada mencari sesuatu (looking for something). Sesuatu yang dimaksud itu bisa mengenai masa depan, kesuksesan, nilai yang bagus, teman “spesial”, atau bahkan, jati diri.

Penafsiran itu berbeda dengan apa yang sebelumnya sudah sempat terpikirkan olehku saat dalam perjalanan pulang dari kerja. Benak penuh dengan pemikiran bagaimana menghabiskan liburan ini seproduktif dan seefektif mungkin dan mampu merasa puas di finish line seminggu kemudian saat liburan berakhir.

Kebalikan dari penafsiran di atas mengenai es krim, saya malah bertanya trick apa yang bisa saya pakai untuk menikmati es krim itu sepelan mungkin supaya bisa merasa puas sesudah selesai. Saya yakin banyak orang akan setuju bahawa es krim itu adalah sesuatu yang sangat nikmat. Akan tetapi, ironisnya, semua kenikmatan hanya bersifat sementara. Semua kenikmatan pasti akan berakhir. Dan, kalau kita tidak belajar untuk menikmati kenikmatan dan keindahan itu, maka dalam sekejap, kenikmatan dan keindahan akan berakhir tanpa sempat meninggalkan bekas yang mendalam, tanpa sempat memberikan kepuasan.

Tapi es krim memang akan cepat meleleh. Pertanyaannya, dengan demikian, bagaimana caranya untuk makan es krim tanpa berlama-lama dan tetap merasa puas di bagian akhir?

Selama seminggu terakhir ini, saya beruntung sekali bisa menghabiskan waktu berjam-jam dengan beberapa relawan sosial di suatu daerah di kota Surabaya. Kami saling berbagi cerita mengenai banyak hal. Cerita dari mereka kebanyakan mengenai kasus-kasus yang harus ditangani, keadaan penuh stres yang sering berada di luar  kemampuan mereka untuk mengontrol hasil akhir keadaan itu. Saya kemudian menawarkan kepada mereka pengertian mengenai mindfulness. Konsep ini menitikberatkan pada kemampuan manusia untuk berada pada “here and now“. Artinya kurang lebih mengenai kemampuan kita untuk benar-benar menyadari keberadaan kita di mana pun kita berada, dan menghargai saat itu, mensyukuri apa yang dimiliki pada saat itu. Untuk mencapai itu, konsep mindfulness mengajarkan pentingnya “letting go” atau melepaskan. Apa yang dilepaskan? Semuanya, sehingga yang tersisa hanyalah diri kita sendiri dan keberadaan kita sekarang.  Hal-hal duniawi lainnya, yang di luar jangkauan kontrol kita, mengenai orang lain, semuanya kita lepaskan. Sebagai gantinya, kita berfokus ke dalam diri kita sendiri, berfokus pada pemikiran kita, pada pernapasan kita, pada apa yang sedang kita lakukan. Kalau sedang meditasi, kita berfokus ke pernapasan dan apa yang panca indera kita rasakan saat bermeditasi. Bila sedang berjalan, kita berfokus pada apa yang ditangkap oleh panca indera kita dan pijakan di bawah telapak kaki, rumput, pasir atau tanah, angin yang berdesir sepoi-sepoi meniup rambut dan daun telinga kita. Dan bila sedang makan, kita berfokus pada makanan yang masuk ke mulut, rasanya seperti apa, sadari proses seperti apa yang makanan itu sudah lalui untuk akhirnya sampai ke mulut kita, tangan dan keringat siapa yang telah membantu untuk akhirnya kita bisa makan makanan itu, dan menyukuri semua karunia itu.

Being mindful therefore, is to be aware.

Untuk menjadi mindful, kita harus lebih menyadari, peka, dan terbuka terhadap sekeliling kita. Meditasi, berjalan, makan hanyalah beberapa contoh saja bagaimana manusia bisa mengaplikasikan konsep mindfulness dalam hidup sehari-hari. Mindfulness membantu berkembangnya kesadaran diri dan kepekaan terhadap sekitar.

Kembali lagi ke topik es krim, memang es krim butuh dimakan dengan cepat. Kita tidak bisa berlama-lama memakan es krim, tidak seperti meminum segelas wine, atau secangkir kopi, yang memang sebaiknya dilakukan sambil berbincang-bincang dengan orang lain. Sebenarnya tidak sulit untuk bisa menikmati es krim dan merasakan kepuasan sesudahnya. Tidak sulit juga untuk menghindari kecenderungan untuk kemudian merasa bersalah karena telah memakan makanan yang dikategorisasikan kurang sehat bagi tubuh, atau junk food. Mindfulness bisa dilakukan dengan memikirkan jerih-payah dan upaya orang-orang yang sudah terlibat dalam pembuatan es krim itu — mulai dari pemerahan susu dari sapi, pengolahan susu sapi, pembuatan kemasan yang siap untuk dipasarkan, pembuatan branding, pemasaran, pemesanan, pengantaran produk, dan seterusnya. Bisa juga dengan berfokus pada nikmatnya rasa es krim di lidah, sensasi dingin dan manis yang dirasakan, atau mungkin sempat terasakan tekstur dan rasa lain yang mungkin tidak pernah tertangkap sebelumnya karena kita terlalu terburu-buru untuk menghabiskan. Misalnya, ada rasa sedikit asin (dan memang es krim sebenarnya ada sedikit rasa asinnya karena membutuhkan garam untuk pembuatannya). Kadang kita bisa merasakan lebih dari satu rasa karena diberi buah atau kacang. Sudah pernahkah anda memakan es krim dan benar-benar meresapi semua rasa yang memungkinkan untuk dirasakan? Itulah salah satu contoh mindfulness. Hasil dari proses itu jauh lebih memuaskan dibandingkan makan secara terburu-buru. Hasil dari proses mindfulness itu juga memungkinkan kita untuk mengurangi makanan karena sebenarnya bukan kuantitas yang berujung ke kepuasan, tapi kualitas.

Lalu mengapa kita berfokus pada es krim, padahal judul artikel mengatakan liburan? Semoga dengan membawa anda dalam esai dengan judul yang agak mengecohkan ini tidak menjadi suatu “torture” untuk pikiran anda sehingga membuat anda akhirnya secara tidak sadar (atau sadar) berjalan ke arah kulkas, membuka dengan harapan akan melihat secuil something yang dapat memuaskan tenggorokan sejenak. Tidak, bukan itu tujuan saya, tapi mohon maaf bila itu yang terjadi.

Saya ingin mencamkan bahwa liburan itu memang ibarat es krim! Bila ingin merasa puas di akhir liburan, kita harus benar-benar meresapinya, menjalaninya secara penuh kesadaran, bersyukur, memanfaatkannya seefektif mungkin. Dan ini kita lakukan tidak secara terburu-buru.

Kita juga harus BERHATI-HATI terhadap fenomena liburan, apalagi liburan panjang. Sama seperti es krim yang mempunyai konsekuensi yang harus dibayar sesudah memakannya (baca: penambahan lemak di tubuh), liburan juga mempunyai konsekuensi unik. Ada tumpukan pekerjaan yang menunggu di awal reuni bersua kembali dengan kantor, pekerjaan yang hanya tertunda sebentar. Namun percayalah, kesetiaannya untuk menunggu kita kembali sudah tak teragukan.

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Topik tulisan di atas sebenarnya adalah sebuah topik yang pernah saya tulis setahun yang lalu menjelang libur panjang di akhir tahun. Hasil karya tulisan di atas ini adalah sebuah penulisan ulang yang telah saya revisi di beberapa tempat. Selamat menikmati.

Dan juga, selamat merayakan Hari Raya Idul Fitri bagi teman-teman yang merayakan. Mari kita selalu menjaga kerukunan antarkepercayaan yang berbeda-beda di tanah air tercinta Indonesia ini. Semoga hari raya ini bisa dirayakan oleh umatnya di seluruh dunia dalam kebersamaan yang ditandai oleh rasa damai dan cinta kasih di dalam hati.

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How about a Blind Date with a Book?

I wrote before how books can be like destiny. So why not then entertain a new idea, a blind date with a book. Care to try? Here’s how to do it.

PICK A BOOK WITHOUT SEEING ITS COVER.

It sounds impossible, but it’s been done. I found the photo below on the internet, more specifically from writingprompts.tumbler.com. Those who love to write and need some ideas on what to write, I recommend this website.

Apparently this idea has been tossed around in many book clubs, discussed by bloggers all over the world, and so on. I am sure in some places, people might have repeated this action.At first, I thought it was a good idea too. I’m trying to remember if I definitely ever pick up a book solely based on its cover. I probably do almost all the time. I realize however, that book cover can sometimes be misleading. When browsing book shelves in bookstores, I must admit that colorful book covers or books with catchy title will gain my interest first. It never fails. My hands just lose control, apparently my eyes take over the control of my body, and voila! The book is in my hands. That is how usually things happen with me in book stores. Then, I will go straight to the back side (this never fails too) to read whatever information it can offer me about the content. Afterwards, come the argument in my head. It usually goes like this, “Do I really need this? Is it good? It looks interesting”, which then is countered by another voice, “No, you still have unfinished ones at home. Finish those first. Put it back.”  “But, I’m almost done with those. In case I can’t get to any bookstore next month, I should just prepare one. Just in case.”  “Yeah, but do you have the money? Look at how much that costs.”  And there goes the reality check. The counter-argument usually wins by this time, because books in English are unfortunately so expensive in Indonesia, especially new books.  If I do finally decide to buy the book, then the information about the book must have done a good job to be able to capture my interest.

In other words, book cover and some words about the book are usually the two things that help me decide which books to get. I am having a hard time with the idea of having a blind date with a book. What if I become disappointed with the book? What if it’s not to my liking? After all, I do believe in books as destiny, remember? Perhaps if they want to sell books covered like this, then they should at least lower the price or give us an option to exchange the book if it doesn’t match to what we want (I think I just gave you my opinion about the real blind date too *grin*).

But I will entertain some of the questions on the prompt above anyway. So what would be the 4 or 5 descriptions written on the wrapping paper that would help me picking a book? I actually like the question because it allows me to look back at the types of books that I have read. There is a pattern, and here it is in order of its importance to me:

1. Memoir
2. Survival
3. Detective (or adventure)
4. Self-improvement
5. History

The last book that I read has the following descriptions:
1. Happiness
2. Spirituality
3. Life balance
4. Destiny
5. Dreams

I know what you think. I obviously ventured away from my usual pattern in that last book.

As a whole, I’m not a big fan of this idea of covering books, or even movies, music, game from their identity. I think those of us who love books, movies, music, games, choose them as an escape or an adventure. It would be a nightmare escape or adventure if we get trapped inside a journey that we can’t enjoy. But then again, there are people who will say that the true adventure is when trying something completely new or unknown.

Different people, different taste. In my case, just give me my choice of escape, please.

Books as Destiny?

The following essay was originally written in January 2016 and published in my other blog.
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I’m currently reading two books at the same time. Call me greedy, but I am trying to read both of them as fast as I can. By next week when the new semester starts, who knows if I’ll have the time to read again. It’s a sad truth about a teaching job, but it’s reality. So as the wise Master Yoda would have advised me: speed reading, you must do, my child.

Those two books are: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma.

I’m starting to come to this thought that maybe books do work like destiny for us, at least they do for me. Why? They seem to come to me at the right time. When I find the ones that I can connect with, they seem to appear at the right time. I bought Robin Sharma’s book long time ago — probably about a year ago, but never read it. I left it somewhere in the house, and it was soon forgotten, hidden underneath a pile of junk stuff. Then, just recently, more precisely last weekend when I suddenly had a burst of energy to clean up the whole house and unpack moving boxes that have been sitting in the back room for two months, the book appeared in front of me still wrapped inside its plastic. Brand new, never been opened. I saw it and said to myself, “That is my next book.”  I just knew it.  I started reading it this morning and the message from the book just hits me deeply. I thought what a perfect timing to find this book. It also makes me wonder why didn’t I read it before when I first bought it. I must have bought it because I was interested in it. I usually picked my books carefully. But how come I never opened it until today?  This is when I’m starting to think that maybe meeting books is like meeting new people. Sometimes we just click right away when we meet a new person, and sometimes we don’t — no chemistry at all. And I am talking about meeting anyone, with any gender, in any context, for any kind of relationship.I met the first book, The Happiness Project, more recently. It was on the day when I stopped by at a local mall to buy a nice big glass jar for my 365 gratitude notes project. While at the mall, I stopped by at the ATM machine that happens to be near a bookstore. Surely, my feet seem to have walked by themselves towards the bookstore (honestly, that was exactly what happened!). And there in that bookstore, my destiny found me. Now, I must say that I have seen this book before in other bookstores, but my point again, why didn’t I have any interest to get the book before? Why now? The book also spoke to me and hit the right chord.

Each of these two books serve the same purpose for me, answering an important question that I have been pondering lately. However, each has its own way of serving its purpose. While Gretchen Rubin intrigues me and opens my eyes to new ideas of activities to be and maintain happiness, Robin Sharma covers the deeper end of my question, a more spiritual aspect. I’ve been enjoying reading both books and will continue for a few more days. Hopefully I can squeeze in some reading time before bed time in the next weeks until both books are done.

Talking about books working as destiny reminds me of another book that truly changes my life. It’s no other than a book by my role model, Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love. Now, that is truly destiny. It almost felt as if Elizabeth Gilbert was talking to me when I read that book. EPL is a proof that a stranger in the form of an author can leave a very deep, long lasting impact on another person. This is why I celebrate the existence of books, especially books that can leave me in awe, make me reflect on my life. At times, as if it’s forcing me to stand in front of a mirror and see who’s looking back at me. I love books that can make me ‘feel’.  Make me cry, laugh, angry, or surprise me. Or how about books that can take us on an exhausting journey with complicated, multi-layered characters. Yes, I still remember the first time I read Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and then how sad I felt when getting to the end of the series. Like many HP and LotR fans, I went through a grieving stage at the end. I was a late LotR fan — was introduced to the series only in the early 2000s before the movies came out, so I still vividly remember when I devoured those books. I think I lost many sleeping hours during that wonderful journey.

Books! Whether you believe it as destiny or not, I still think we can learn plenty from books. Books do talk to us, like humans do. In some occasions, books as dead objects probably send a better and clearer message to us than do some humans. So if that is the case, then going back to my previous hypothesis, why don’t we look at books as our destiny? It makes perfect sense to me.

365 Gratitude Notes

The following essay was written and published in January 2016 in my other blog. An update on this project: unfortunately, it stopped in around the month of June 2016. It couldn’t last until the end of 2016. Too many obstacles, one of them is to give a considerate amount of time to upkeep it. I’m not good in a long-time project. I lost track of time and also I lost the interest to continue midway through. I would like to start it again next year, but I’m considering to have a partner to do it with me, to help reminding me. It’s not an easy project to do it alone. So, that’s the lesson I learned.

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I discovered this project about a year ago.  It is not a new project.  I guess many people have tried it before and I wanted to try it last year, but it was already a bit too late to try it.  So here I am trying it, but not in the form of writing my gratitude notes in blog.  I prefer the more private way, that is to put them in a jar.  It is meant for me only to read them.  I may write some of those notes if the idea is something that can be shared in this blog.

I can tell you this for sure, I am writing on one of them, which is this one. This is my first gratitude note out of  365 gratitude notes for the year of 2016.  (Well, actually, a minor correction.  There are 366 days in 2016 because we will have a leap year in 2016!)

I am thankful for making the commitment to start blogging again. I have tried blogging before and decided to stop that blog for several reasons.  Throughout the time I have been absent from blogging, I found myself missing the activity tremendously.  There is something in the process of typing, how I’m letting my fingers dancing freely on the keyboard that gives such a feeling of pleasure.  I am not denying it anymore. I am starting it again now.  A fresh start.

I am thankful for whoever that came up with the idea of making this 365 gratitude notes.  So this is the first thing that I am thankful for in this year of 2016. that I finally have the courage to do this again.  I have started this blog actually a year ago and I have even prepared a launching date before in August 2015 but had to cancel it because it wasn’t ready yet.  I have also changed its name and layout several times.  I’m not even sure exactly what I am going to write in this blog, but I believe my mind and my heart will find its path eventually.  Through this blog, I intend to express myself, my ideas, my opinion, my perception, my weakness, my strength, my creativity.  I welcome comments, challenge, opinion, and ideas too from readers.  I intend to make it a form of discussion.  I may not put an entry on a daily basis because I’m sure I won’t have the time for it, but I plan to write now whenever I feel like an idea is coming.

The Story of Three Best Friends

There are these three best friends, who always come together at night time, mostly on weekends. It’s hard for them to find time to meet during weekdays because of “other priorities”. Tonight for example, on this late Sunday night, they meet again. And what a moment it is. They sure feel like they are in heaven. What an explosion of sharing between these three old friends — sharing of emotions, sharing of that moment, the here and now. At times no words are needed. They just know what to do, it’s an old dance step that they have rehearsed together for many nights before.

And so on a night like this, I, as the witness to the meeting of these three best friends, can feel the strong emotion between these three friends just by the sheer opportunity to be part of this moment.  Thank you for being here. As always, thank you for letting me be a part of this. Thank you for another beautiful night. And as for my token of gratitude, here is a poem to a moment like this.

hissing sound coming from the kettle
it’s ready, I thought
pouring the water over you
and you come alive
inside my cup
exploring your surrounding

Canon in D starting in the background
right about time, I thought
turning it up
and you come alive
inside my ear
tugging at my heart

Lastly, I pull you onto my lap
feet up, glasses on
taking a deep breath
and then you say
are you ready?

my three best friends
leading me on a blissful
solitary journey
into the night

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Note: I wrote the piece above without doing much thinking. I just knew that I had to write something for what I am feeling right now, but no inclination or plan on how I was going to write it. And the next thing that happened, the words just came out through my fingers. It was when I started to write the title in the beginning when I knew what I wanted to write. The whole thing felt magical in a way, as if something else is moving my fingers. I know it was me who did it, but if felt kind of unreal. I am savoring this moment because moment like this doesn’t come too often in writing.

I had a very lovely day today and yesterday, and maybe the positive feelings were the ones that initiated the energy that pushed me to write the piece above. I had a very very lovely weekend, and I am so grateful for yesterday and today that I’m almost tearing up rekindling the memories. I have spent these two days interacting with friends either through face to face conversation or by chatting, watching a classical musical recital (which is very rare to happen in my city) with a friend, spending the night at a friend’s house and talking away into the night. The next day we had a lovely breakfast, exploring some stores (our kind of stores, which means no clothing store) and then continuing with lunch while enjoying every minute of our talk. Then I still managed in the end to go to church, made dinner and spent time with my three “other best friends”, which you might have guessed them by now: a book, music, and a cup of hot tea. My corner of heaven, my hiding place, my treasure of contentment.

Solitary and feeling content, it was actually one of the topics that my friend and I discussed today. There is a difference between being alone and feeling content as compared to feeling lonely. I know both situations fully well. I have experienced many occasions of both. While I enjoy the former, I detest the latter. Luckily today it was the first situation. And so while it lasts, I intend to taste every minute of it.

Good night and good day. May you also feel content and be thankful about it whenever you experience it. God bless us all.

 

Originally published in January 2016 in another blog.