on feeling narcissistic #2

“love is not cruel
we are cruel
love is not a game
we have made a game
out of love”

-rupi kaur in “milk and honey”

Once in a while we meet a person or two who seem to understand.
They listen to our little rants,
they laugh at our most inappropriate jokes,
they appreciate our obsessive and excessive overthinking,
they willingly adapt to our idiosyncrasy, those little habits which tick others don’t seem to bother them,
and for once it feels good to be ourselves.
If anything, it feels amazing. Of all the numerous strangers we meet, there is at least this one person who has the patience to accept us just as we are.

The lines exchanged between cups of coffee gradually carry greater weight as we let ourselves enthralled by them,
they charm us with a sense of liberation to present ourselves more than just culmination of ideas.
they comfort us with a humbling sensation of allowing ourselves a chance to be understood.

With them, conversing does not feel so much as a level of a game you have to conquer.
They fill us with the hope of establishing that meaningful connection,
The dream we dismissed some time ago.

And we try to fight our inherent drive to repel them.
We build the inner dialogue with our overthinking selves.
This time, maybe it is not such a bad idea to invite them closer.
This time, maybe it will not be such a waste of time and effort to attach ourselves to them.

With them, opening up does not feel so much as leveling up to face a difficult game level.
This time, maybe we should not give in to our insecurities, trust issues, and anxiety.
May we gather the courage we thought we are not equipped with.

Still,
at the end of the day,
we want to be able to look them in the eyes and ask a rather simple question.
It is the only remaining question standing between them and our unmasked soul,
the very essence of ourselves which might not heal should they hurt us.

Insufferably, we pity ourselves when we still feel the need to protect ourselves and doubt them,

“If I were to let you in,
can I trust you?”

And we wait by the high doors of our last defense line,
nervously hoping they have the patience to once again smile at us and serenely convince us.

colliding thoughts #3

A support group member in the movie adaptation of Rent:

“I’m used to relying on intellect, but I try to open up to what I don’t know.”

Alain de Botton in Essays in Love #1:

“I realized that a more complex lesson needed to be drawn, one that could play with the incompatibilities of love, juggling the need for wisdom with its likely impotence, juggling the idiocy of infatuation with its inevitability. Love had to be appreciated without flight into dogmatic optimism or pessimism, without constructing a philosophy of one’s fears, or a morality of one’s disappointments. Love taught the analytic mind a certain humility, the lesson that however hard it struggled to reach immobile certainties (numbering its conclusions and embedding them in neat series), analysis could never be anything but flawed—and therefore never stray far from the ironic.”

Alain de Botton in Essays in Love #2:

“The longing is that the lover admires us stripped of our external assets, appreciating the essence of our being, ready to repeat the unconditional love said to exist between the parent and child. The real self is what one can freely choose to be, and if a birthmark arises on our forehead or age withers us or recession bankrupts us, then we must be excused or accidents that have damaged what is only our surface. And even if we are beautiful and rich, then we do not wish to be loved on account of these things, for they may fail us, and with them, love. I would prefer you to compliment on my brain than on my face, but if you must, then I would rather you comment on my smile (motor and muscle-controlled) than on my nose (static and tissue-based). The desire is that I be loved even if I lost everything: leaving nothing but “me,” this mysterious “me” taken to be the self at its weakest, most vulnerable point. Do you love me enough that I may be weak with you? Everyone loves strength, but do you love me for my weakness? That is the real test. Do you love me stripped of everything that might be lost, for only the things I will have forever?

The song played towards the end of the movie “Serendipity” (Northen Sky by Nick Drake):

“Would you love me for my money;
would you love me for my head;
would you love me through the winter;
would you love me ‘til I’m dead?
Oh if you would and you could,
Come blow your horn on high.”

Simone de Beauvoir in “Woman in Love”, a chapter in The Second Sex #1:

“Men might be passionate lovers at certain moments of their existence, but there is not one who could be defined as “a man in love”; in their most violent passions, they never abandon themselves completely; even if they fall on their knees before their mistresses, they still wish to possess them, annex them; at the heart of their lives, they remain sovereign subjects; the woman they love is merely one value among others; they want to integrate her into their existence, not submerge their entire existence in her. By contrast, love for the woman is a total abdication for the benefit of a master.”

From Sylvia Plath’s Mad Girl’s Love Song:

“I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head)”

Simone de Beauvoir in “Woman in Love”, a chapter in The Second Sex #2:

“The day when it will possible for woman to love in her strength and not in her weakness,
not to escape from herself but to find herself,
not out of resignation but to affirm herself,
love will become for her as for man the source of life and not a mortal danger.”

Mandy Len Catron in her 2015 TED Talk in SFU “A Better Way To Talk About Love”:

“So if love is a collaborative work of art, then love is an aesthetic experience. Love is unpredictable, love is creative, love requires communication and discipline, it is frustrating and emotionally demanding. And love involves both joy and pain. Ultimately, each experience of love is different.

This version of love is not about winning or losing someone’s affection. Instead, it requires that you trust your partner and talk about things when trusting feels difficult, which sounds so simple, but is actually a kind of revolutionary, radical act. This is because you get to stop thinking about yourself and what you’re gaining or losing in your relationship, and you get to start thinking about what you have to offer. This version of love allows us to say things like, “Hey, we’re not very good collaborators. Maybe this isn’t for us.” Or, “That relationship was shorter than I had planned, but it was still kind of beautiful.”

The beautiful thing about the collaborative work of art is that it will not paint or draw or sculpt itself. This version of love allows us to decide what it looks like.

“iridescence”

“Watch carefully the magic that occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves.”

Sometime ago, I found myself so fed up with the thought that people think they know me. I struggled in accepting various interpretations they had upon me as a proxy of my behaviors and moreover to accommodate that to my own mental representation of myself. I felt the need to stand up for myself and rebelled against any wrongful convictions casted on me. I still do, a little bit, to be honest. I wish I could take them on a tour to the realms of my covert behavior precedents and they could see for themselves how unfair it was all seemed to me. But what good would that do to myself? Would it be enough just to be able to explain myself to people? Would there be a satisfactory means and end to do so*?

After a decent period of soul searching, I decided that thought was not going to bother me anymore. I accept the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinions of me and sometimes I have very little to say in helping them making a well-informed one. It was not an easy nor smooth process to grasp that idea, but in the end I gained the internal independence to be myself as I see fit and let others make sense of that in their own unique ways. In honor of my favorite humans who sat with me during my darkest hours to provide me comfort and encouragement, I am still open to listen to what people have to say about me. Fortunately, I am now equipped with a better censor to detect a  smarter and more creative angle of observation in absorbing them appropriately.

*at some point, I was very much tempted to borrow Descriptive Psychology’s conceptual behavior parameter in order to earn myself a benefit of a doubt from people. But I’m not sure the formula <Behavior> = <I, W, K, K – H, P, A, PC,S> would entice them. #canthelpbeinggeeky

 

book excerpt: “a wakefulness whose price had been loneliness”

“The man with the cigarette, now leaning on a light pole, let his look wonder back and forth between me and what was happening in the street. What he saw of me could have revealed nothing about my self-doubting fragility that didn’t accord much with my proud, even arrogant, posture. I put myself into his look, reproduced it in me, and from that perspective absorbed my reflection. The way I looked and appeared—I thought—I had never been that way for a single minute in my life. Not in school, not at the university, not in my practice. Is it the same with others: that they don’t recognize themselves in their outside? That the reflection seems like a stage full of crass distortion? That, with fear, they note the gap between perception others have of them and the way they experience themselves? That the familiarity of inside and the familiarity of outside can be so far apart that they can hardly be considered the familiarity of the same thing?

The distance from others, where this awareness moves us, becomes even greater when we realize that our outside form doesn’t appear to others as our own eyes? Humans are not seen like houses, trees, and stars. They are seen with the expectation of being able to encounter them in a specific way and thus making them a part of our own inside. Imagination trims them to suit our own wishes and hopes, but also to confirm our own fears and prejudices. We don’t even get safely and impartially to the outside contours of another. On the way, the eye is diverted and blurred by all the wishes and fantasies that make us the special, unmistakeable human being we are. Even the outside world of the inside world is still a piece of our inside world, not to mention the thoughts we make about the inside world of strangers that are so uncertain and unstable that they say more about ourselves than about others. How does the man with the cigarette see an exaggeratedly upright man with a gaunt face, full lips, and gold-framed eyeglasses on the sharp, straight nose that seems to me to be too long and too dominant? How does this figure fit into the framework of the pleasure and displeasure and into the remaining architecture of his soul? What does his look exaggerate and stress in my appearance, and what does it leave out as if it didn’t even exist? It will inevitably be a caricature the smoking stranger forms of my reflection, and his notion of my notional world will pile up caricature on caricature. And so we are doubly strangers, for between us there is not only the deceptive outside world, but also the delusion that exists of it in every inside world.

— from “Night Train to Lisbon”   by Pascal Mercier

These passages haunted me for days.
I was out with a group of friends and whenever there was a chance (and usually there is not that many) my thought wondered back to these words. It felt as if I were taken to an out-of-body experience: the inside me trying to escape in order to examine the whole social interaction from the corner of the bar.

An unexpected feeling of alienation from oneself came over me.
A particular entry from Kierkegaard’s journal i read years ago came to mind. I didn’t remember it word by word, but it spoke of the same strangeness of looking at the presentation of oneself and the perception of others towards it.

There is a certain loneliness enveloped in these passages. The kind of sensation i can easily reconnect with from time to time. In a way it comforts me. You know, to realize that there are others out there who think alike. :)

“So he considered it natural that others failed to see him as he was. Was it possible that this doesn’t matter at all to someone? And was that lack of sensibility? Or a desirable internal independence?”

— (still) from “Night Train to Lisbon” by Pascal Mercier <3

on feeling narcissistic #1

“Given that we can only live a small part of what there is in us— what happens with the rest?”

            – Amadeu de Prado in Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon

I’d like to think there is a longing in each and everyone of us to be understood, if not to be accepted for what we are. We look for words of comfort from others. The trails of social affirmation for us to be just who we are when we think nobody is watching.

The thoughts which dare not to escape our tongues,
the raw, unfiltered feelings which we keep under our skins,
the so-called depth of our soul which sometimes frightened us ourselves.
Every little thing which makes us one whole elusive self who is arguably hard to understand. Even we got lost trying to understand ourselves, don’t we?

On those sleepless nights when we force ourselves to examine every excruciating detail of our encounters,
those micro-details fabricating our interactions with others haunt us.
A laugh sounds less sincere,
a faint smile looks quite condescending,
words being searched thoroughly for possible underlying semantic meanings we might miss at first glance,
actions being questioned and interpreted in a never ending loop of thesis-anti thesis formation.

How did they see us?
Did they understand?
Was that okay?
Do they like us?
Was that not acceptable?
Do they despise us?

Then comes the dawn and the trial in our mind is adjourned. Yet to another sleepless night or during those ten minutes waiting for the egg to boil or as we try to get the water into the right temperature before a morning shower. Some trials are resolved quite easily. Some reached conclusions fairly quickly to only be retried some time later. Some stay a mystery as well as misery.

Once in a while we meet a person or two who seem to understand.
They listen to our little rants,
they laugh at our most inappropriate jokes,
they appreciate our obsessive and excessive overthinking,
they willingly adapt to our idiosyncrasy, those little habits which tick others don’t seem to bother them,
and for once it feels good to be ourselves.
If anything, it feels amazing. Of all the numerous people we met, there is at least this one person who has the patience to accept us just as we are.

(not so helpful) notes on “the duality of existence”

“And what is the whole world? An infinity of faces! An abstraction.”

Milan Kundera in Slowness (1995)

From Kierkegaard to Berdyaev, and a little bit of Sartre (okay, not that little) in between, the existentialist philosophers (religious or not) have always ventured the challenge of being our authentic selves amidst the vague crowd. Reserved to social gathering formats of their own respective era, the early philosophers have warned us about this abstract “wholeness”, the infinity of faces that is “the world”. In the light of recent talks and research on the richness of anonymous identity the world wide web provides us with, I cannot help but thinking how cool this “old-school” bunch of thinkers are!

About 50 years after the rise of existentialist movement, in his 1995 novella, Slowness, Milan Kundera deployed on a similar mission as former philosophers to uncover the exhibitionist part of oneself and its interaction with the eager eyes (and ears) of the “crowd”. He introduced the term “the dancer” as to describe how in this so-called modern world we are used to compose ourselves accordingly to collect the attention and approval (or disapproval, if you’re more on the anti-mainstream team) of our, more often than not, fictitious audiences. Interesting, isn’t it? Jumping ahead to 2011, Black Mirror, a widely popular UK TV programme, stretches Kundera’s idea on this and puts into perspectives how we “dance” in the era of social media. The episode “Nosedive”*, a great opening of the third season in 2016, explicitly describes how we work hard to dance the best of dance and gain approval from our audiences.

We stand up ever so bravely on our own individual stage in the social media platform. There was a time when the biggest theme of contemplation of the social media was it could function as a safe haven for opening up parts of ourselves we could hardly display in the physical world. People who we know as the quiet ones in daily interface could be pretty chatty and strong opinionated in social media. People we are friends with could embody a surprisingly annoying virtual identity we don’t even like. I’ve seen friendships bent and broke over “cyber war”. A tricky mind business, really. Makes us wonder, is it possible to keep the two separate, thus possibly different, identities: the physical one and the virtual one? Which one is the real one?

Then there come the time when the social community we find in the internet projects a certain set of social norms. The alluring merits of being “social media darling” compel us to oblige to the norms. We want to put the best dance to attract and keep the attention of our audiences in accordance to the existing norms and practical rules exists in the social media community. With the possibility of statistically measuring the approval of others in social media, we strive to gain more support and admiration from others. At the same time, it encourages us to obsess over one another. We create this promising closeness with one another by looking at each other’s social media feed. We bond over the things we share on the internet. Makes us wonder again over the same old question. Is it possible to keep the two separate: the physical world and the virtual one? Which one is the real one? Can we be authentic in both? How?

Being an avid user of social media myself, I explore these questions not by simply judging how absurd it is to care so much about the number of likes we triumphantly collect from our social media posts, the number of friends we have on our feeds, the number of followers we have, the devotees which kept attending our dance shows and liking it. I have observed and experienced for myself the great wonders of social media. I quite like it. Okay, I am fond of it.

The thoughts of old school existentialists and the many reflections of their thoughts in popular culture makes me wonder. I genuinely am interested in getting to know how this duality of physical and virtual lives interact with one another for me and for others. Both worlds, physical or virtual (or probably a better term: online and offline), offer the same vagueness existence of oneself and others. The mad crowd exists in both. The narcissistic dancer struggles in both. The question is, in the end, which one is real?

Can a person, in a world which glorifies both existence, be authentic in just one part of the existence? Can we be a full person just in one part of the world? Would it be enough to just keep dancing in one stage? At the moment, it seems we have the luxury of choosing to be prosperous in our struggles at both or either of the world. We can be happy both offline and online; or we can be happy in one and not in the other. We exist in both worlds and the rush of questions in investigating the meaning of both of our existences are catching up on us. With double the crowd, we are racing also against double the madness of vagueness. Twice the burden of existentialism. Or is it really so? Hm.

 

 

*there are also other episodes which discuss the idea of being creating and getting fame over the “new” and growing social platforms

 

Tentang “Surat Kabar Guru Belajar”

Akhir tahun lalu saya kenal dengan inisiasi Surat Kabar Guru Belajar. Senang sekali rasanya ada wadah bagi guru untuk bertukar cerita dan belajar dari pengalaman satu sama lain. Di edisi keempat, saya ikutan nulis!

Cerita saya masih seputar murid-murid saya di Waghete, Papua. Setelah kemarin sempat bercerita tentang Petrus, kali ini saya bercerita tentang pengalaman saya dengan Mesak. Hihi. Masih yang “nakal-nakal” dan selalu saja pemahaman saya gak jauh-jauh dari betapa kontekstualnya definisi nakal, juga alternatif menyikapi yang nakal.

Kali ini, saya juga mengingat kembali proses membangun budaya berdialog dengan murid-murid. Segala yang baik itu sudah ada dalam diri murid-murid kita. Yang perlu diusahakan selalu adalah membangkitkan kesadaran akan yang baik itu dan bagaimana itu bisa diterjemahkan dalam tingkah laku.

Tulisan saya bisa dibaca di Surat Kabar Guru Belajar Edisi 4 halaman 31-32. Let me know what you think! : D

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Baca juga Surat Kabar Guru Belajar lainnya:

Edisi 1
Edisi 2
Edisi 3

mondate 27/6

Mundane catching up with my week,
this is the “monday update” for 2016, 27/6 listing almost all of my current obsessions.

In general: Dutch apple pieI tried this pie because there were 1e discount at local supermarket. IT WAS SUPERB! Definitely change the way i enjoy my coffee. And probably change my waistline too : p

Songs: “Tonight You Belong To Me” in the Steve Martin’s movie “The Jerk”.

Band: Passenger. Currently checking out their albums prior to being famous.

Something nostalgic: all the songs my mum used to play on repeat kept escaping my head. Tennessee Waltz, Your Cheating Heart, My Bonnie, and many more.

Keywords: “romantic feminist” sounds sophisticated, yes?

Personal projects: Studio 27 movie projects! #luv | If only my supervisors would accept this side projects of mine as a good excuse to delay my papers… : pp

Books: The Little Prince. Saw a dog looked a lot like the Little Prince’s sheep last weekend! It made me miss the book. I started a collection of the book in different languages, maybe i should try to find the Dutch version while i’m here.

Quotes: From this article i found in Magdalene:

You’ve worked really hard to be who you are; and if someone comes along and adores your hard work, that’s good. But you need to appreciate the struggles you’ve done all these years, because you did that on your own. It’s something that deserves a 10-minute long standing ovation.

But, more importantly, you never, never have to compete to gain someone’s approval of your worth. If there is more than one woman in his life trying to win him over, you need to remember that romance is not a competition. Your self worth is not an object to be competed or scored by anyone, including that guy you like so much.

That says all about my week! See ya soon at the next mondate : 99

Oh! And how about yours anyway?

musical poem:”hujan bulan Juni”

There is something about a poem that moves me.
i go crazy over rhymes and fall head over hills on metaphors.
i get high on wordplay and, most importantly,
i treasure the depth of the writer’s shared wisdom.

Back in high school i was so happy working on a musical poem assignment.
I sing, but i’m hardly a good one (you’ll notice my pitch-falls),
i play ukulele, but i’m far from being a professional (you’ll note my monotone strumming),
but i like poems, singing, and the ukulele. So, i just kept doing it from time to time. Bear with it! : pp

Now, far from asking for your compliments, i want to share with you some of my favorite poems accompanied by my mediocre singing and my so-so ukulele strumming.

Here is “hujan bulan Juni” by Sapardi Djoko Damono:

 

You may enjoy it,
you may not. I’ll leave it to your discretion! :)