Upon Reading “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Every society, in every culture, despite the differences, have one idealism of how one should live his/her life: grow up, get a spouse, get married, and have children.

Kinda reminds me of a quote I once made:

There are many ways to say hello and goodbye. Surprisingly, there’s only one way to have sex.

Well, okay, we might have a little variations here, but you get the idea. You know what I meant.

In Indonesia, it is a paradigm one’s having (and carrying) the moment he/she got out of his/her mom’s womb.

I’ve heard a saying (or perhaps a ‘judgement’?) that the less educated someone is, the younger he/she is most likely to get married.

I’m a little in between here.

I did, saw less-educated people are married at a very young age, and are likely to have lots of kids, despite the fact that their financial situation might not be able to support all the family members to prosper (schools, food, daily necessities, etc etc).

Which ALWAYS raise a question for me (not aloud, of course). These people are poor, and they knew that by heart. Sure, they might as well know, additional family members will make them even poorer, and sure they know that even if the child happen to be an ‘accident,’ they might not even able to support him/her financially. In the end, they would complaint how poor they were, how little they give to the child, and how they feel sorry for the child and themselves. So a question pop out of my head: “So why the hell did you make kids in the first place?”

A friend of mine complaint about how little he has financially, yet he decided to get married anyway, but then he ended up feeling sorry for he cannot support his wife financially, and felt ashamed of how little he could give to his wife, and his complaint was still the same, even after he got married (and got kids! Imagine that!)

Which brings me a similar question: “Why did you get married in the first place?”

I’m not opposing to the idea of marriage and having kids, I just thought that those two matters should be thought through thoroughly.

Okay, Indonesia might not be a first world modern and sophisticated country. We know that. Especially considering the number of uneducated people here. But compared to what I’ve seen in the news, what I’ve read in books, novels, magazines and newspapers, I think I can still proudly say that Indonesia is quite a modern country, with open-minded people, and there are also lots of people who are well-educated. Long story made short: we do belong in the modern era.

I’ve met people who’s so damn smart, who had traveled around the world, and reached the peak of their careers. Still, it doesn’t changed the traditional ideology planted below our sub-conscious ever since we were kids, brainwashed: grow up, get married, and have kids. Pramoedya Ananta Toer also mentioned this in one of his Buru Quartet (I forgot which book, but I guess it’s in either the first or the second book), saying:

“Dahulu, nenek moyangmu selalu mengajarkan, tidak ada yang lebih sederhana daripada hidup: lahir, makan-minum, tumbuh, beranak-pinak dan berbuat kebajikan.” ~Bunda (ibu Minke)

Translated into English, those words mean: “Long ago, your ancestors always told us that there is nothing simpler than life itself: to get out of your mother’s womb, to eat and to drink, to grow up, to have kids, and to do good.” That’s it. However, the modernization brought by Western people (a.k.a. the Dutch and other Europeans) has made more and more people now competing for better education, and to gain more and more knowledge, and in fact, is the the one reason why human beings are never satisfied.

Hmmm. Now I’m confused.

So what? Should we stop pursuing knowledge>

Or maybe that’s not what Pram meant?

Maybe I misinterpreted?

Because from what I’ve seen, those people who worked their butts off, in order to gain knowledge, then go around the world to find that fountain of wisdom, are in fact still deeply rooted to that basic principles of a simple life: grow up, get married, and have kids.

*

So I wrote down that note while I was waiting for a friend in Eat & Eat, and when I showed this to him when he finally showed up, he asked me,

“So what’s the right way to live according to you?”

“Huh? There’s no such thing as right or wrong when it comes to life. Especially in how we should live our life,” I answered.

“So?”

Strike one.

What do I want to say exactly here, actually?

Do I sound like criticizing here? Or worse, scolding?

That is definitely not what I meant.

So I told him,

“I just thought that those things have seem to become a guidelines of life that should be followed now. Grow up, get married, and have kids. That’s life. It has rooted deeply in our brains that it seems if we’re missing one or two of those elements, say, we don’t want to have kids, or maybe we want to be homosex, or even bisex, or we just want to be single for the rest of our life, people seem to view it as abnormal. Because it’s unusual, based on those guidelines.

“But let’s assume that we don’t have those guideline. People doesn’t have the paradigm of how we should live our life. Would they still view the ‘abnormal’ as abnormal? Would they still binded to the idea that life should be ‘normal’?”

Yea, maybe I’m criticizing.

I’m just trying to imagine, what might happen if we don’t have such guidelines. Would people have more room to explore themselves then?

Yea, I’m wondering.

Excuse me, this is just one big issue, especially in where I live right now.

English + Technology = Teaching?

Lately, in Indonesia, more and more school has been using English to teach their students. For almost every subject, every teacher is encouraged to use English most of the time: to explain things, to ask question, to answer students’ answer, to give assignments, and also to instruct the students.

More and more parents demand English as the main language used in their children’s school, so every school tried their best to train their teacher and sent them to study English. As long as he/she can say, “Good morning, children,” or, “Any question?” or, “Understand?” the I-dunno-who-the-superior-one in the school will assume that the teacher has mastered English already. So, with all those good-morning-thingy, those teachers go back to their school and teach the students with whatever English they have learned in I-dunno-where.

Another thing that has been added alongside English is technology. The sophistication level, of course, depends on how much money the school could have. The bigger school with bigger funds (usually in big cities) got more facilities, and I’m not only talking about the quality, but also the quantity. As for smaller schools, with smaller funds… they got… well, whatever they could get. Serious.

The must-have one recently is of course laptop and LCD. No LCD? No probs, use whiteboard. No laptop? No probs, the school will provide, at least one. No electricity? Oops. Now that’s a problem.

Here’s two things to point out:

  1. English doesn’t rule everything.
    Yes, I know, with English, more doors are opened for you–(I have to cross that out considering some people that I know with bad English, yet they are the ones who got the scholarship ticket to the States)
    More and more people are seeking English, yes, I know. And I gotta admit, English has the prestige, especially for Indonesian. You can get a better job with English, and if you can speak English properly, people consider you as… educated. Serious.
    But I simply don’t see the point of trying to use English for teaching if you don’t even understand English. You hardly understand what you’re saying, and I’m not sure the students understand you either. Students with good English are confused with the messed-up English, and students who think they are bad in English don’t bother to listen to the English explanation. They already have the I-dun-understand-English-at-all-mindset.
    What’s the point of trying to compete with other school by using English, if your students don’t understand any of your explanations, and even worse, they get more and more confused?
  2. Technology is cool, but it’s not an angel sent from heaven.
    Every student teacher who is doing their micro-teaching now have to own a laptop. Or if you can’t own it, borrow it.
    Indeed, technology brings better education. Technology makes better AVAs. Technology helps. A LOT.
    But I’ve seen many friends (including teachers, sorry) who got used of technology, and they end up becoming more and more dependent on technology.
    Technology makes us look more sophisticated and… professional. I agree. But once a blackout happen, you’re doomed. Not so much sophisticated and professional anymore, aye?
    As more people rely everything on technology (so do I, actually), technology rules everything.
    Well, actually, electricity does.
    They end up feeling so left out in front of the class, looking puzzled, dunno what or how to explain the materials since everything is in flashdisk, or laptop, or computer.
    The bad news: if you’re a student teacher, you cannot runaway from that situation..
    The good news: if you’re a teacher already, you can always say, “I’m really-really sorry, but I would probably have to cancel the class today since everything that I have prepared is inside the computer/laptop, and due to technical problem, I can’t turn it on, so I have nothing for you right now.”
    That’s for the blackout case.
    The other thing I’ve noticed is that some teachers try to use technology while they actually know nothing about technology (a.k.a. “gaptek” in bahasa Indonesia). They don’t understand technology, they don’t know how to operate the gadgets, and they end up confused and puzzled in front of the class, struggling with the laptop. The file is 2007 Word Document (.docx), while the computer/laptop doesn’t have Microsoft Word 2007 in it. They thought it’s a virus. Or they simply stated, “I’m sorry, I can’t open the document.”
    Well, that’s just one example. One of the worst. Some are not that bad.
    I probably sounded like mocking those teachers, and I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to.
    What I’m trying to say here is that teachers shouldn’t have rely everything on technology. We still have human resources. We can do many things without technology. Always prepare a backup plan in case the technology won’t cooperate with you. No electricity? So what? No computer/notebook? Doesn’t matter. Still got a pair of hands and feet, a mouth, two ears, two eyes, and complete body parts.

One more additional: if people insist on using English and technology more (well, they do, indeed), at least think of a real intensive training in both English and technology. Don’t get satisfied too fast with “Are you understand?” or the simple click on a desktop shortcut yet you can’t anywhere further from the desktop. If you wanna use English, at least learn some grammar! If you wanna use the technology, master the gadget first! For your own sakes, anyway. And it helps you gain more confidence and appreciation.

Nothing is Ever Permanent

There are three types of people who will come into your life: People for a Reason, People for a Season, and People for a Lifetime.

  • People for a Reason
    They say this kind of people come for a reason = to be a comfort in your times of trouble, to be an answer for your problems, to be the one by your sides in your times of need, etc. And when the reason has happened, his/her mission is fulfilled, accomplished, and it is very possible that he/she will walk out of your life forever. The person itself might not realize that he/she actually came with a mission, but God sent him/her to be your answer. They have a reason for staying by your side.
  • People for a Season
    This person is different with the previous one. This person might not come for a reason, and he/she might not be your answer for your problem, and might not comfort you in times of trouble, but this person enters your life for a season only, e. g. for a semester, because you two are classmates; for a holiday, because you met during holidays and spent a lot of time together; for a project, because you guys are in the same committee, doing the same stuff until your project is done, and many other possibilities. After his/her season passed, he/she might walk out of your life, too, or if they didn’t, you might not remained close to them anymore.
  • People for a Lifetime
    This type of people, are mostly believed by many, as someone who will become your soul mate, or your spouse. Mostly. But some also believe this kind of people to be your BFF, or your parents, and such people who is loyal enough to you, that they will never leave your side.

Okay, enough with the nonsense. I’m comin up with my own nonsense.

Nothing is Ever Permanent — the hypocrite, as you can also see in Another Nonsense on the sidebar next to the articles.

I’ve put that quotation in my status (both twitter and facebook) for days, and I meant what I wrote.

I do believe the thing such as People for a Reason and a Season, for I’ve had them too.

When my parents were about to divorce, I had my People for a Reason who comforted me, and stayed by my side to strengthen me.

From one semester to another semester, I met People for a Season, and they change every semester. Some may stay to two or more semesters, but some stay only for one semester.

Then they will graduate, and become busier than usual, and it is very possible to lose contact.

But no people for a Lifetime.

As I said, “Nothing is ever permanent.” Nothing stays forever in your life. Especially forever and ever (or ‘forever and a day’).

Not your spouse.

Not your current best friend who you thought will be your BFF.

Not even your parents.

There are very little cases of loyal marriage, whose wife and husband stay forever and forever loving the same person. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it’s very rare. Even when you saw a family who seem to love each other, it might not what it seems. You just haven’t dig deeper.

Your BFF? Even fewer cases of soul mates stay as soul mates till they die. One might leave sooner. Many things could happen. Fight, death, changes, etc, etc. Even BFF may last.

Your parents? Once you’re married, you’re not your parents’ anymore. You belong to your spouse. Or at least, that’s what I believe. And even if you stick with your parents, unless your parents are Greek god who came down to earth and disguise as mortals, I’m sorry, but they will die, sooner or later. They die, too.

So, yea, that’s what I’ve believed so far: nothing stays forever in your life.

Okay, there might be no one to stay forever in your life, but what about things around you?

Evolution came, trends are always come and go, never steady, even climate changes, and even everything around us (the so-called nature) change.

So, see? Nothing stays forever. “Nothing is ever permanent.”

Being Realistic?

“Step by step aja. Jangan berpikir dan berawang-awang setinggi langit dulu tapi aplikasinya aja masih nggak jelas. Bisa jadi sudah bertekad dengan kuat, tapi mana kita tahu apa yang bakal terjadi di masa depan? Lebih baik berencana dan disimpan di dalam hati sampai akhirnya benar-benar terealisasi, daripada berkoar2 ke sana-sini, dan ternyata ujung-ujungnya Cuma omong besar. Kita kan nggak bisa menebak masa depan.”

“Maaf aku kasar dan terlalu terus terang, tapi jujur aja, salah satu alasan aku nggak suka orang ‘gereja’ adalah karena mereka biasa bicara terlalu cepat tanpa dipikir dengan logis, dan mengatasnamakan iman dan mukjizat. Thanks deh, aku hidup di dunia yang nyata dan aku lebih suka menapakkan kaki di bumi dan menjadi realistis daripada terbang jauh melayang ke surga tapi tiba-tiba jatuh dengan keras ke bumi bertangan kosong.”

“Biarkan orang melihat langsung realisasinya saja. Itu jauh lebih baik daripada omong kosong di luar sana tanpa bukti dan hasil.”

From Perseus to Andromeda

I HATE ANDROMEDA!!! Yet she doesn’t even realize how I envy her. She just loves me so much, that if she knew I have this kind of hatred toward her, she would be crushed to pieces.

All that she knew is that I’m her beloved, the only one that she has, and no one could replace me. Her world is so me-centered. I actually have the same thought. To me, she’s the only one, and she’s totally irreplaceable. Yet her presence and existence bother me so much. It irritates me and become really annoying that it left me nothing but two choices: to kill her or kill myself. And no matter what I’d choose, it’d suffer us both. Although if she ever knew my intention, I know she’d voluntarily sacrifice herself. If not letting me kill her, she’d runaway, somewhere far-far away, and as long as I don’t want her to be near me, she’d never made any contact with me. And this would make her suffer. And to imagine how much this would hurt her, it hurts me too.

Why did you give her to me just like you give me to her, eh? Is it a kind of scenario to you? A kind of dramatic story to be put in your novel—a.k.a. the book of life; or a kind of movie that you wanna watch, using us, ur creation as the actor and actress? And now I can imagine you’re sitting on a comfy couch eating pop corn, while watching us suffer—well, watching ME suffer, to be exact, for Andromeda doesn’t even know, or ever think of this, I believe. She’s just too childish for this. Her thought is too simple for such complicated things inside me.

I know I can never leave her alone. I love her too much, as much as I owe her my life. I shouldn’t revenge on something she never even did.

Or perhaps it’s the evil inside me that’s screaming to be let out of me. Oh, wait. I’m the evil. Yes, I’m the evil itself. That explains the cruel feeling inside me. That’s the only explanation isn’t it?

So, what should I do? Should I just give you up, Andromeda? Or could you ever give up on me?

Right now, I wish that I’d ended up somewhere far away, amnesia, not remembering you, or even myself. Then I wouldn’t thought that I was an evil, right? And life should be much easier by then.

Or I wish I’m a wizard, then I could transfigurate your mind, so you wouldn’t remember anything about me, you’d just think of all the beautiful things that could make you happy, instead.

Andromeda, to you, life is nothing but a playground park. It’s a fantasy land full of bitterness, and yet you never think negatively. You’re trying to be tough with your positive thoughts. While me, on the other hand, try to live this life bitterly. For it not, I wouldn’t be able to survive. The only way for me to survive this tough life is by driving myself crazy. I don’t think I would stay for long anyway.

Andromeda, I wish you’d leave this life earlier than me, for I can’t stand the thought of you losing me. I’m the only one you have. You put so many—too many hopes in me. And I can’t imagine what would be of you if I quit this life earlier. No. I know I’d be alright, even when everyone has gone, back to their home. I know, no matter what happen, I can still be OK—or I can try, no matter how, even when I’m the only person left in this earth. But not you. And I don’t want you experience that thing too.

We’re just too different. But that difference is the one that put us together. If you wanna blame, or even praise the one who create this brilliant plot for us, you can praise the creator. He’s in charge of all this.