Archive | April, 2009

Blessings in a Stranger

29 Apr

INTRO :

This nice piece of writing was written about me by a lovely lady who I am honored to count as a friend.  She’s the one whose portrait I used as the image of the post.  If the world has more people like her, it will surely be brighter and more fun. 🙂

Most of the time, things are too ordinary to be worthy of mention. Another day may pass and I wouldn’t know the difference; but there are also things which are beyond depiction. This noon was an example of the latter. Do you know that The Big Man above has a daily plan on whom you’re going to meet everyday? You do not bypass every other face on coincidence. A complete stranger could be your future friend, you’ll just never know. But it’s all in His plan.And it is all a blessing on its own. This is my part of the blessings. Retelling the story might be very difficult, but I’ll walk another mile to deliver this to you in hope that you will be blessed as much as I am.

I had an appointment with a man, who was previously a stranger for me. I had no idea whatsoever about whom he was or anything about the life he led. Why of course there were some bits I’d already acknowledged but they were far from sufficient to build the word “friend”. Or so I thought.

The primary reason why we agreed to meet was simply because he accepted my offer to lend him some DVDs and lunch-hour seemed to be the most feasible time to have an encounter. He needed the DVDs for a research he’s doing for his upcoming book. Yes, he is one hell of a writer. Check his works here. From the first impression, I would say that he looked like an everyday guy. Being thin with an average height and fair complexion, not much to say about him. But the way he carried himself appeared to be very well collected.

The conversation rolled all natural. But brick by brick, I began to see wonders started to unveil.In front of me, was a man with his problems and there he was, telling me stories with a smile on his face. Laughter appeared once in a while and his face lit up when he talked about books, music, and most importantly, his beloved wife and his children.

Well, what did I know? Long story short, the man turned out to be way bigger than his body could contain. Deeper than just skin deep, he is a very well articulated gentleman with a polished manner. In a less-than-two-hour conversation, I learnt a lot. I learnt about the man himself, his family, and parts of his life.  Moreover, I learnt about faith, hope, acceptance, passion and compassion, strength, and courage. I learnt about life, the one I knew already and the one whose existence I never knew about. I learnt about life, the high and the low. I learnt about love.

By the time I had to go back to the office, I had found myself a new friend. Well maybe “found” isn’t an appropriate word. I would prefer to say that God has given me a blessing in a form of a new friend. The stranger is now my new brother. Dear friends, allow me to introduce Mr. Fajar Jasmin 🙂

PS. Oom Fajar, it really is an honor for me to know you personally [and Tante Leonnie, it would be a great privilege for me if we could have an encounter next time]. Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity. And anytime I could be of any help, please do not hesitate to let me know. I would be more than happy to lend a hand for you and your family. God bless all of us!

To live is to love, to love is to live. Cheers!

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Daily Life Redux

22 Apr

Some things are better left unsaid. Or aren’t they ? I’m not totally sure about this, but sometimes I think what happened to me may be too personal to write for the world to know. So I’m sorry if I disappoint you somewhat for not sharing the exact inspiration to this post. Suffice it to say that recent events spurred me to take more control of my life, holding the reins soundly in my hands.

Of course, one could argue that there’s only so much a HIV-positive man can do with his life. His is certainly very limited by his handicap. It is easy to hide behind the fact that I could not work in a regular office job like everyone else, for example. And while I could not be blamed ( at least not totally ) for the way my condition affects my family, there must be something else I can do to help them get what they need. I decided to start by re-arranging my daily life schedule.

And what a start that seemed to be. I know that the topic of daily grind of living your life may seem banal to many people, but consider this for one second : What if your daily schedule can have a huge impact on your health ? That is, what if, – say, you will get sick if you force yourself to work longer than you can ? That’s right, you’re beginning to get a picture of this life of mine. I myself have no idea if I can do what I need to do to help my kids stand on their own feet when my time comes. God knows I want them to have something tangible to hold on to when I’m not on their side anymore.

Hence the radical change to my daily schedule. I was always an unstructured man. I prefer a loose method of working than a rigid schedule of my days. My disease, if anything, did not help at all. I am supposed to take my pills on a definite time, but other than that it just ( sometimes ) kill my energy to the point that I could not think in the right state-of-mind to work. It’s easy to imagine that this needs to be changed. What I decided to do is incorporate a routine in my daily life where I will work on scheduled time slots on my book, – and whatever else I get my hands on at the moment. After planning it, my typical working week looks something like this :

I can almost hear some of you laugh after seeing it. I know. Don’t imagine for a moment that I’m able to work 8-10 hours a day like I used to do 4-5 years ago. This schedule is a mere peanut compared to some of my friends who sometimes are still on a meeting at 10 pm. What I would give to be like them.

Yet, this new schedule of mine is still a far cry from my current loose take on daily life. In fact, I don’t know if I can do as I planned to do. I have the will, but there are so many other variables that may affect the result of the equation. Just bear with me for now. Let me just try. It is my prayer that this small decision I made today signifies something much bigger : that I will have more control over my life. That it will enable and empower me to be a better provider for my family. Someday, when it happens, it just won’t get any better than that. Trust me.

“Say No to Megawati” and Freedom of Speech

7 Apr

One of my previous blog posts talked about this yearning of mine for positive things in the Internet, be they blog posts, forum shouts, status updates, or anything else. In it, I used an analogy to illustrate my stance on the right to say anything in the Internet, and why we should nevertheless be careful what to say. If you will bear with me for a while, I want to re-enact the example briefly here ( Again, please understand that this is merely an example and I do not have anything against any certain race or ethnicity whatsoever ) :

Let’s say that you happen to own a piece of property consisting of a home on a stretch of land in town. Now, you can do anything within the boundaries of your said property, – that goes without saying. But will it be advisable to you to erect a sign stating that “I Hate Blacks !” ? If you choose to do so, you might reap some very uncomfortable consequences because of it. So while it is maintained that it’s within your categorical rights to build anything in your piece of land, sometimes it may not be wise to do so. In this analogy, such signs will at best mean downright stupidity, – and at worst, blatant act of hate.

In my opinion, this is an easy example to comprehend. Indeed, I am willing to place a considerable amount of bet that most of us will not do such grievous things in our lives. So if we are able to see the folly of the act in our real lives, it means that similar act of foolishness are hard to be found in the Internet, – correct ? Wrong. Recently, the Indonesian Internet realm was made a little bit awry when someone started a Facebook group called “I Hate Megawati” “Say No to Megawati”. It more or less tried to be a community where people who hate this ex-president of Indonesia congregate together. Now let me pause here and state that it is my personal belief that there’s nothing wrong with the concept of Freedom of Speech or stating your opinion freely. I also am not a big fan of Megawati either.

Yet it fails to be a healthy tool to do just that. Instead, it became a willing vehicle where people harbor hatred freely by posting in the group wall. I am sad to mention that some of its members even do not know how to express their opinions in a civilized way, – and resorted to extravagant uses of vulgar languages. Privately, I want to believe that its founder did not mean the group to be out of control like that, but I still question the decision to start such a hard-to-control group like that, – when it clearly seemed that he/she was not prepared to moderate its contents. I just simply fail to understand why would someone do a thing like that.  Was it for fun ?  What a big shame…

Promptly, I then rejoiced when the group was blocked by Facebook because it was deemed as a violation to the User’s Conduct. I am sorry if I say this rather strongly, but I think it’s a sad, pathetic portrayal of Indonesian Internet users who cowardly hide behind the shield of Freedom of Speech when they in fact are engaging in the very act of hate. Come on, people ! Be as mature individuals as you claimed to be. Indonesia, – are we actually that low, – do we actually have a character as base as that ? I rest my case.