Project 365

Welcome! This is my own 365 project of creating at least one post per day about the stuff that I learnt, achieved, and found, the stuff that made me happy, or the new thing I did every single day.

The project was started on 21 February 2010. It has stopped for few times but I am determined to continue!

This project is dedicated to myself. I want to feel grateful for every single thing I have. I want to be thankful for my own life. I just want to feel that I have enough.

Category: Favorite Posts

The Unseen

Everything you see has its roots in the unseen world.
The forms may change, yet the essence remains the same.
Every wonderful sight will vanish, every sweet word will fade,
But do not be disheartened,
The Source they come from is eternal, growing,
Branching out, giving new life and new joy.
Why do you weep?
The Source is within you
And this whole world is springing up from it

— Jalal ad-Din Rumi

The thing I love about Rumi’s poems is the different interpretation and meaning that can be made on each of them.

This is one of the many examples. My first glance of this poem was this: it talks about the world we live in now (which is temporary and is therefore will vanish) and the afterlife, which is the eternal and unseen world.

After reading it over and over again, I can also say that the poem is a simple reminder that joy is not always there. It will vanish and fade into different forms that we may not like. Sorrow is unavoidable. But we shouldn’t be weeping for the vanishing joy, because it will eventually come again, giving new life and joy.

The third interpretation may well be about the death of a person. Each of us comes from one eternal Source, i.e. Allah SWT. Knowing that He is within us (i.e. we spend our time to be devoted to Him), we shouldn’t be weeping about someone’s death right? Because whoever dies will come back to the one and only Source.

Perhaps you have another interpretation? I’d love to know! 🙂

When Our Government Can’t Be Trusted

Stories like this stripped away my excitement to go back to Indonesia for good.

It took me years to finally be certain about going back. I finally knew what I wanted to do. I pledged to take this as yet another challenge. I wanted to do this. For real.

Then I read about Ahmadiya people being brutally murdered. Then there were church attacks. It hurts me. This is my country. How can they be so cruel and intolerant?! People have been saying to me about provocateurs or some parties being paid to do that for some weird agenda. I don’t care about those. The fact that the government can’t even protect the rights of minority citizens saddens me. This has been happening for years. Yet, nothing was done. I’m extremely disappointed.

Then that story of injustice was spread. An emotional story written by a girl whose mother was jailed for 10 years and was fined 10 billion rupiah (USD 1.12 million). The story showed how rare justice was in our country. I shouldn’t believe her story 100%, but this is too common. She’s not the only one. There are many people who experienced the same thing.

Going back to Indonesia seems to be a burden now. I know that this can’t be changed. The decision has been finalized. There’s nothing I can do right now, except to imagine the beautiful Indonesia with beautiful beaches… Take me back to that dream, please!

I’ve decided now (again) that I’m going to avoid reading any news about Indonesia. I’ll unfollow those Indo tweets. I’ll unsubscribe the newspapers from my Google Reader. I’ll stop reading anything about my country. I know I’m being paranoid, but I don’t want to go back with a heavy heart. I want to go back because I want to. Not because I need to.

Living Wholeheartedly

This is an excellent talk by Dr. Brené Brown. And yes, she’s a research professor who has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. So this talk is actually based on her decade of research into this topic! I’m not going to write all the things she said, because you really need to watch it (she’s a great storyteller!).

But there’s one thing that kinda struck me, which is of course vulnerability. I hate to be vulnerable. I really hate that because I feel so weak. And I don’t like to be weak. When friends asked me if I were okay, I would say yes, although I felt like crying inside. When I felt betrayed, I barely wanted to admit it. When somebody didn’t treat me right, I acted as if I didn’t care, but I actually did. The point is,  I never wanted to admit that I was affected, hurt, or broken-hearted, especially to the person who caused me so. And I never wanted to let myself loving someone so deeply because of fear of separation. This is all related to weakness (and being looked as a weak human being), fear of something, and my image (of being strong and the urge to keep that image with me).

Then I questioned myself, WHY IN THE WORLD DID I DO THAT?!

Clearly, I’ve been unconscious! And I was awaken by Brene, this video. She taught me that it’s okay to be vulnerable. She said, "Vulnerability is at the core of fear, anxiety, shame, and very difficult emotions that we all experience. But vulnerability is also the birth place of joy, love, belonging, creativity, faith…."

We tend to deal with our vulnerability by "numbing" vulnerability. Evidence includes debts, over weight, addiction to alcohol or drugs or even busy-ness. But the problem is that, we can’t selectively numb emotions. If we numb "the bad things" like vulnerability, grief, shame, and disappointments, we automatically numb the other good things, like joy, gratitude, and happiness. That’s when we feel miserable, looking for the purpose and meaning of life, etc. And that’s bad, isn’t it?

So how do we do it? How do we live wholeheartedly?

We have to fully embrace vulnerability, not deny it. We’re not only have to embrace our vulnerability, but also need to embrace the vulnerability of others. It’s our vulnerability that makes us beautiful. The willingness to love others first with our whole hearts. The willingness to do something where there are no guarantees. The willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out (ouch!).

We also need to have the courage to be imperfect and let ourselves deeply and vulnerably seen. Tell the world about who we really are. Be honest about it and never let what other people think about us in any way paralyze us. And that’s the first step of worthiness, believing that we are worthy of love and belonging. That’s really important in order to live wholeheartedly. We also need to be compassionate. Caring others genuinely and loving them with our whole hearts. To practice gratitude and joy is also essential. Being thankful for what we have and honoring what’s ordinary about our lives: our loved ones, friends, community, and nature. And lastly, to believe that we’re enough 🙂

We want more guarantees. We we want to believe that we we’re not going to get hurt and that bad things aren’t going to happen and they are, but there is a guarantee that nobody talks about and that is that if we don’t allow ourselves to experience joy and love, we will definitely miss out on filling our reservoir with what we need when those hard things happen

I’m going to start to embrace my vulnerability for now. Somehow I found it much easier to embrace other’s vulnerabilities than my own. Bismillah. Let me be free.

Changing Education Paradigms

Last March, I wrote about Sir Ken Robinson who is the world-renowned education and creativity expert. I watched his talks on TED and YouTube and I actually really like some of his brilliant views on education.

One thing he said about the current education system is that it is "modeled on the interests of industrialism and the image of it". For example, schools are still organized on factory lines: ringing bells, separate facilities, and specializations into separate subjects. Children are also educated by batches. They are put into the system by age group (a great analogy for products grouped by the date of manufacture), when in fact some children of the same age perform better than the rest of the group. Some of them are also flourished when they work in smaller groups, large groups, or even alone. Children are not like products, in which they are the same. They have different capabilities. When products do not pass the standardized tests, they are destroyed or be sold for cheaper price. But we can’t do the same thing to these children. Some children perform better in some disciplines than the others. And what’s the used of these tests or exams? Why is getting high grades the most important thing in this world? (I still see most of job advertisements in Indonesia requiring future employees to have certain minimum grades. How sad!)

Sir Robinson said: "if you are interested in the model of education, you don’t start from the production line mentality." 🙂 We don’t need a reform in our education system. But we certainly need to transform the system.

The Aftermath of Eat Pray Love

I watched Eat Pray Love with Jessie today at the cinema. On the way back home, passing through the empty roads (mind you, it was past midnight), I did a lot of thinking and I realized that, hey, I was in the similar situation too: confused about what I wanted to do with my life! It’s a life dilemma, the first time such thing ever happens to me!

I used to know what I wanted to do with my life. Hell yeah, I was good at it! Since high school, I had my own life map drawn showing me which path I should take. When others were still confused about which university they wanted to go to or which major they wanted to choose, I already had everything set. It seemed so easy and I did it without the help of my parents, who practically lived miles away from me. I planned everything by myself. I knew that by the time I finished high school, I would go to Australia to study. Then afterwards, I would do my Master degree somewhere in Europe. I would then live somewhere in the Middle East to work and encourage more women to participate in the workforce.

I also used to dream about having a successful IT career. I would live abroad, have a great life as a single career woman, and at the same time, support my family; be it helping my dad to finance the education of my siblings or financially helping my mom to build a house she ever dreamed of. Then I would start to slow down, fall in love, have kids, and so on. It was an ordinary dream, a traditional and “selfish” one, I would call. Nothing fancy. It was a dream most girls in this world dying to have.

Those things kept me going up the ladder. Plus, I loved what I did. That’s what mattered. I loved what I studied. I was so passionate about the computer world that I would swear myself I would be doing it for the rest of my life. I remember when I first came to Eindhoven, a friend told me that he never met any girl who was so excited about being devoted to this field! Most of his girl friends, he said, ended up doing something totally different than IT, or throwing themselves in that field due to lack of choices. Well, it never occurred to me that I became one of those people he mentioned a year later! I didn’t know what had happened!

During my lifetime, I have learnt. I have been inspired and encouraged. I have been moved. But it all came to one thing: I always have wanted something different. I realized that the field of IT was not for me. Was I bored? Perhaps. I always get bored, even with my love life, which always makes me question, will I ever find a guy that I will never get bored of? I always demand for changes. That’s why you’ve seen me hopping from one country to the other. I want to see different things. That’s why you’ve heard me talking about being in the ocean. I don’t want to be in the same situation all the time. I want to feel energized every time. And that’s through experiencing different things.

Truth to be told, I can’t help thinking that I would be spending my entire life in an office, behind a computer! Even thinking about it already makes me crazy. Of course, I could be a manager or a head of something, like people ‘suggested’ me, but in general, working in the office hasn’t been a favorite to me. It’s too monotone. Imagine, every single day you wake up and do the same thing. It’s not exciting! It’s not fulfilling. You won’t feel satisfied. Why do you think people hate Monday?

So now, yes, officially, I have lost my passion. I don’t know my destination and goal are anymore. They disappeared without me realizing it. I am now in the intersection of a big road, confused of which direction I should take. Street signs are everywhere but they aren’t meant to help me with choices. They really confuse me!

Some people know that I’ve been really interested in the development world, especially education, youth, and community development. I’ve been looking into that field a lot. Is the development world really for me? Of course, at some point in our life, we want to help others and make a huge impact. But let’s just forget about it for a moment, because for me, if I want to help others, there are many members of my own family (relatives) who financially need help. And I think I have to prioritize them over anyone else in this world.

But then why is the development world seem so exciting for me? I feel like, by going deep into this field, I can interact with other people more often. The real people. The people who can inspire me. The people who may teach me more about trust, love, or anything. The people who can straighten my faith. The ‘ordinary’ people who know much better about what life is all about than those people who can’t seem to have enough of things. That’s what I love about it. Those people live their life based on love, the support of their family, lessons they learnt in the past, and experiences; not based on cool gadgets, money, BlackBerry, or fancy dress. I can’t find satisfaction in those. Perhaps, yes, temporarily, but not in a long term. If I work in an office, I can only imagine the usual boring everyday routine and the fact that there would be less human-to-human deep connection. People (including me!) are getting so further away from each other, thanks to the computer, Internet, and social networks. In addition to that, when you deal with people, you will be facing different cases or stories at some point. Surprises await you. Not to mention when you travel to different places, culture influences the creation of different individuals and that’s what makes it so bloody interesting!

I can’t say confidently that I have finally found my passion right now. I feel like I want to devote myself in the field of development. But everything is still vague and blur. Everything that I see is pictured in my selfish imagination. I haven’t really dive into it yet, nor am I experienced in it. That’s what makes me stuck. That’s what makes me afraid to go on and to take the risk. Even worst (and I say it again), I don’t know how to start. I haven’t met people who are experienced in this yet. I have no clear picture. I’ve been wanting to go to Jordan or even Palestine to do some voluntary works after I graduate but everything is still an immature plan. Everything that I have in mind is still in the phase of ‘let us see what happens after I graduate’. I don’t want to make myself completely into this yet, because I know I have some priorities. Unfinished business needs to be completed first.

It does seem like I don’t appreciate what I have right now. Don’t get me wrong, I do. I am grateful each day for everything that God has given me. But if God allows me to take a different path, why can’t I choose that path? If that path makes me more satisfied and fulfilled, why can’t I take that direction then? 🙂 I have a full control of my life. It’s matter of choice: whether I will spend the rest of my life dreading of going to the office OR waking up each day, full of love, excited about the surprises that life would bring for me. Of course I would rather choose the second one. Because I believe that “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy” (Rumi).