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Brazil, Indonesia dan Doa Saya

9 Jul

Dini hari tadi, dunia dikejutkan oleh sebuah peristiwa besar dalam sejarah sepakbola: tuan rumah putaran final Piala Dunia 2014, Brazil, luluh lantak di hadapan Jerman dengan skor yang tak hanya telak, namun juga memalukan, 1-7.

Ada banyak kesalahan substansial Brazil dalam pertandingan itu.  Pertama, mereka kehilangan dua pemain kunci sekaligus, yakni Neymar dan Thiago Silva. Soal pengganti Neymar mungkin cenderung menjadi diskursus yang lebih sederhana, karena terjadi dalam sektor penyerangan yang tak berdampak langsung pada risiko kebobolan.

Lain lagi dengan soal Thiago Silva.  Jelas, lini pertahanan adalah soal yang tak bisa dinomorduakan karena perjudiannya terlalu besar.  Salah sedikit saja, gawang tim Anda akan kebobolan.  Tadi malam, Scolari memilih Dante untuk berduet dengan David Luiz di sana.  Di luar soal bahwa mereka berdua belum teruji sebagai duet di jantung pertahanan, ini mungkin hal yang harus diterima mengingat tak ada opsi yang lebih baik.

Kesalahan besarnya adalah Brazil lupa bahwa, dengan demikian, sektor pertahanan mereka menjadi titik lemah dalam pertandingan dini hari tadi.  Logika sepakbola sebenarnya sederhana:  Identifikasi titik lemah tim Anda, dan jauhkan bola selama mungkin dari titik tersebut.  Dalam konteks tadi malam, seharusnya Brazil menjauhkan bola selama mungkin dari sektor pertahanan mereka.  Celakanya, ini tak terjadi lantaran Brazil memilih pola penyerangan yang cepat dan tembak langsung.  Direct football sangat berisiko karena penguasaan bola bisa dengan cepat berpindah, sehingga rawan menghadapi serangan balik.

Di sinilah seharusnya contoh possession football Barcelona dan Spanyol 2008-2012 diaplikasikan.  Banyak orang cenderung lupa, bahwa tiki-taka bukanlah semata-mata tentang penyerangan.  Menguasai bola selama mungkin sesungguhnya juga merupakan suatu bentuk pertahanan.  Musuh tak akan bisa mencetak gol selagi bola berada dalam penguasaan kita.

Benar saja.  Jerman begitu menikmati menyerang balik dengan lepas begitu bola berpindah ke kaki mereka.  Saya sering menyebut bahwa satu-satunya jalan melawan Jerman adalah dengan memainkan possession football dan memaksa mereka kehilangan konsentrasi karena frustrasi akibat susah merebut bola.  Jerman tak bisa dihadapi dengan pendekatan adu kencang seolah-olah seperti siapa yang bisa menekan pedal gas paling dalam.  Bunuh diri itu namanya.

Mari kita sekarang berpaling ke dalam negeri. Indonesia hari ini menjadi tuan rumah dari sebuah pertandingan besar antara dua kandidat presiden yang akan menentukan nasib negara ini dalam tahun-tahun mendatang.  Ini sama sekali bukan hal yang sepele.

Saat saya menulis catatan ini, kedua belah pihak sama-sama mengklaim kemenangan.  Anda bisa menyebut saya paranoid, tapi situasi serupa sering kita dengar di pemilihan-pemilihan lain di negara lain yang berujung pada situasi konflik.  Saya tak cemas soal siapa pemenang Pilpres kali ini.  Saya cemas soal apakah kandidat yang kalah akan bisa bersikap dengan menerima.

Tenunan sosial rakyat Indonesia masih cenderung rapuh dan figur-sentris.  Saya berdoa agar tak ada yang tersulut ketika hasil nanti akan diumumkan secara resmi pada tanggal 22 Juli.  Periode antara hari ini sampai akhir bulan ini yang sesungguhnya menjadi babak paling menentukan dalam konteks pilpres.  Sangat-sangat besar taruhannya sehingga mirip dengan konsep sudden-death yang kini telah ditinggalkan oleh FIFA.

Kesalahan tak boleh terjadi.  Gambaran pemain-pemain Brazil dini hari tadi tak mau hilang dari benak saya.  Karena satu langkah yang salah saja dari salah satu kandidat, bisa bermakna bunuh diri bagi Indonesia.  Saya tak ingin Indonesia kalah dalam pertandingan ini, apalagi dengan ongkos sangat mahal seperti selisih gol tadi malam yang sangat meruntuhkan moral.

Saya berdoa.  Anda?

One Bite Too Many

15 Oct

This is a little hard for me.  First, because I haven’t known about him as much as other tech-savvy people who follow the whole brouhaha of the tech world closely.  Second, because what I’m about to posit here is so different than the current majority of existing opinions.

Yep, it’s about Steve Jobs.  Or to be more exact, the man as I knew him to be.

When the whole world was mourning when he passed away not long ago, my mind wandered to the ultimate destiny of Apple without him.  Will the company be able to live on to his legacy?  Will the company be able not only to survive, -but continue to thrive, by being “insanely different”?

Most of the articles, obituaries, blog posts, and whatnots seem to agree on this.  The thinking revolves around the argument that Jobs had successfully established an ecosystem where creativity rules, where everyone in the company lives and breathes the same set of values that he had.  Or in short, that the company’s living DNA had been so closely and carefully molded to resemble Mr Jobs’ paradigm of being a square peg in the round hole.  This in turn, will lead to a future where the company will still at least be as successful as they are right now.

Some careful experts and analysts inserted a line that says something like “only time will tell” or “the ultimate future of Apple will remain to be uncertain”.  Yet what was clearly maintained by all the writings that I read is that Apple will not suffer because of Mr Jobs’ demise.

I am saying the opposite.  I believe that with Steve’s passing away, it spelled a beginning of the end for Apple.  I think that starting from October 2011, Apple is starting to take steps toward slow, steady decline.  It could be really slow, but it’s a decline nonetheless.

Now, I am using the word “decline” in a very loose sense here.  It covers a whole range of scenario starting from the decline of the growth curve, down to that painful phase where a company just sits there, bleeding painfully until it meet its demise or be acquired by another company looking to salvage what they can from the ruins.  At first, it may not be apparent at all because most people think of absolute decline with all the apparent indicators like stock shares and staff lay-offs.  But an absolute decline must begin somewhere, and it will start with a growth decline, where a company will look okay because it continues to earn, but does not enjoy a growth that it used to have.

Here are my reasons..

First, is psychology.  Mr Jobs’ genius, and Apple’s by extension, lies in one simple fact:  they make people want to buy things that previously were dismissed as unnecessary.  iPod is not the first MP3 player in the world, but it is the first MP3 player we ever truly wanted.  Similarly, iPad is not the first tablet computer.  Nor is iPhone the first smartphone ever graced the earth.  I won’t dwell onto how he makes those products so coveted, because we are all familiar with the reasons why they are great products.

Yet I will argue that therein lies his curse.  I am not familiar with management theory, but psychologically, there are sets of skills that can be taught and transferred, and there are those that can’t.  Sadly, Steve’s innate and uncanny ability to be this maverick out-of-the box thinker is one of those that you can’t simply transfer to your kids, -let alone to a company.  You’re either born with it (and carefully nurtured it in Steve’s case), or you’re not.  Most of his greatness will probably be readily transferred to Apple.  Things like attention to details, simplicity, and insistence on perfection.  But not that thing that we call his vision.  Think about it.  Most of the skill sets that we need to thrive as mankind are readily transferrable, and I thank God for that, -or else we would still be living as caveman.  But there are always few skills that cannot be taught just like that.  This is what we instinctively labeled as brilliance.  Think Da Vinci and Einstein.  If their brilliance can be extracted, taught, and applied readily, today we may well be already living on some other planet.

Second, is about problem-solving.  One of the biggest companies on earth, General Electric (GE), thrived for an enjoyable period of time in its beginning because it simply produces things that other companies didn’t:  Electricity and the things that support it, -or derived from it.  You either buy their products or opt to continue to live in the dark.

Apple’s position is different than GE.  They do produce things that solve problems, and solve it in sexy ways.  However, ask yourself this question:  If you accidentally dropped your iPhone to the toilet, will you be doomed?  Or will you be able to function temporarily with that Android phone you borrow from your teenage son?  Or your aunt’s Blackberry, for that matter.  True, you could lament that painstaking Blackberry OS, but survive you will.

Third, is about threats.  It puzzled me why most of the writings dealing with this matter only based their projections on Apple’s strengths and weaknesses as a company.  A few of them also include an exploration of opportunities as one of the external factor.  But most seem reluctant to talk about threats.

Steve Jobs is an artist that made our hearts sing.  I agree.  But the bad news is, we are living in the era of whizkids.  We got Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  They were not the first people who came up with the idea of search engine, but they’re the reason why everybody is using Google now.  We got Mark Zuckerberg, who was not the first man to bring social network to the world, but rather the man who makes all of us felt necessary to join his Facebook.  And of course, there is Jeff Bezos.

Now, I can’t predict the future.  But it’s hard for me to believe that one of this brilliant people (and rich) will not try their hands into a market where Apple is now enjoying a lion’s share.  It could be the market of smartphones, tablets, or others.  And when they do, -assuming there is no a visionary of Steve’s caliber at the helm of Apple-, it’s clear where my bets will lay.

With that, I am closing this post.  Anybody who second-guess my motive, think again.  The only reason of my premise is because of how brilliant Steve Jobs was.  And indispensable.  Which is why his demise could be one bite too many for Apple..

A Lost Piece

28 Mar

The year 2105.  Somewhere in Indonesia.

A yellowed lost sheet of paper rode on the wind.  When it finally dropped on the ground, the following words were written on it:


Harusnya aku bisa tertawa,

Tapi kini aku mengeram durja;

Dulu kau menebar jingga,

Sekarang? Kau menguar lara, pekat jelaga;



Harusnya aku bisa tertawa,

Tapi kini namamu Nestapa,

– ataukah Karbon Dioksida?

Aku lupa….


The writer was never known.  Nor was she ever found.

A Requiem for a Friendship

21 Dec

What a ride we shared, no?

Let me see, we met sometime in last year, if I’m not mistaken.  And to me, you are a dear friend because we share something in common : our sensitive hearts.  This had led to hours of laughters together, yet strangely, I believe this also caused the fracture in our friendship.

I do not pretend to know what really happened between us.  What I do know is this.  That I may have hurt you unintentionally, but so you may have offended me without knowing.  But you know what?  I think that’s okay.  Because after all, we’re only human.  And what other things that can strengthen a relationship better than a resolved misunderstanding?

So it is with this spirit that I write this simple, short letter to you.  Deep down inside, I really know that I never did anything to hurt you in particular.  I had my share of angry moments, but it’s all in the past for me.  In no ways are those moments related to you.  Or at least, I never meant it that way.  I really hope that you are reading this, because for the life of me, I could not bear the thoughts of closing this year without making another try to explain this.

I believe that you also have a fairly good idea about what kind of man I am.  And while I’m not saying that I’m your ideal man to be a friend, I honestly suspect that you understand what I mean by that.  I’m hardly a person with malicious intent.  Oh, you can accuse me of anything, like being dumb maybe.  But hurting anyone on purpose?  That I never do.

However, should you decide to close the page of our friendship, let it be known that I will respect your decision.  It is my sincerest prayer that, -as we go our separate ways-, one day you will be able to think of me fondly as someone who once colored your days.  Because I, for one, will do exactly that to you.  Because to me,

“Years may come and go,

There’s one thing I know:

All my life,

You’re a friend of mine..”

Fall on Your Knees : The Magical Story of My Kindle

8 Oct

“Fall on your knees…

O hear the angels’ voices…”

A couple of days ago while I was auctioning my Kindle for the victims of Padang earthquake, I gave a hint on my Twitter status that I will share a magical story behind it. This is my attempt to tell you that strange, but beautiful story.

Most of you will already know that I have a good share of medical problems. On December last year, I was hospitalized due to several complications related to my HIV. Sometime before that, I said something on Twitter, saying that there’s nothing more I’d prefer for that Christmas beside a couple of things : my health, and an Amazon Kindle. Now, I simply didn’t mean it as a terribly serious wish list. It was more like a playful prayer for me. Especially because back then I began to feel the repercussions of my bad health, one of them being a physical exhaustion which came far too fast when I worked / read on sitting position in my desk.

Enter Lily. Someone who I seriously suspected as having a bigger heart than your average human beings. I did not know Lily before ( I use a pseudonym here, of course ), save for a couple of e-mails we exchanged where we had short discussions about HIV. Needless to say, I also hadn’t met her physically.

Apparently, she read my tweet about those things that I wish for Christmas. A beautiful angel that she was, she then sent me a private message saying that she “might be able to grant me one of those wishes,…” which meant giving me an Amazon Kindle. Now consider this for one second. She’s a serious book lover who likes to read e-books. For that purpose, she ordered that Kindle via her sister who stays in the United States, and patiently waited for the sister to fly back to Indonesia in December to bring her that Kindle. Just imagine that. To this day, I cannot completely comprehend what she did. To give a thing that you have been desiring for so long ? Let alone giving it to a man who you barely know. And true to her words, I will not forget that day when Lily walked to my hospital bed, meeting me for the first time at my worst period of life, and handed me that Kindle. That was the Magic no. 1.


Ever since that day, Lily became a dear friend to me and my wife. She keeps on amazing us by constantly being among the first one to offer her support in whatever problems we were facing, like the time when my wife and I lost our jobs. This is precisely why that Kindle meant a lot to me, – because it was a powerful testimony and a token of love from someone who cares deeply -, aside from it being a very useful e-book reader.

Months passed, and here we are, stunned by what happened to our brothers and sisters in Padang. I was deeply grieved about it, and have been racking my brains about what can I do to help them. Being a person in my circumstances, I was saddened by the fact that I do not have anything to give or donate.

Until I remember my Kindle. Granted, it was very hard to part with it, what with it being an almost-talismanic object to remind me of a wonderful friend that I have. But if there’s one thing I learnt from Lily, it was a simple lesson she taught me when she mentioned that “…the Kindle is much more important to you than to me…”. A simple yet deeply profound thing to say. What we have may mean the world to others. It just takes guts to let go of the things you love, and release them to help other people.

So after getting her agreement, I decided to auction that Kindle for the Padang victims. That wasn’t easy, mind you. Yet I experienced the pure joy of giving, which certainly is a life-transforming experience for me. That was the Magic no. 2.


Does the story end here? I expected so. Nothing prepared me for the Magic no. 3. Brace yourself for Michele, another one of my Twitter friends. Apparently, she was monitoring what I did with the Kindle auction from Day 1. I could not fathom the goodness of her heart, -but to cut a long story short-, she said she ordered a second generation of Kindle as a gift for me to replace the one I auctioned. She thinks what I did was a kind gesture, and insisted that giving me a new Kindle is only appropriate as her way of giving donations.

At this very point, my heart skipped a beat. This whole Kindle story is almost too magical to believe. Full of inspirations, and was ushered in my life by two angelic friends. It gives me chills to think about it, even as I wrote this post. Why, – at the risk of sounding cheesy -, I think it is even worthy as a story for one of those books in the Chicken Soup series..!

But the most important things are the lessons I learned throughout all of this. Allow me to humbly share them with you :

  • What you have may mean a lot to you. But it may well mean way a lot more to those people who are unfortunate. The true measure of a person is in letting go of what he has to help those in need.
  • If you want to do a good thing, do not think too much about it. Just do it without thinking about what you have to lose. Do it simply because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Never hesitate about whether people will remember you if you need help from others. If you can help others at this moment, that is your part in life. Give, and it will come back to you.

As I close this story, I can’t help but think of those lines from a wonderful Christmas song. It is my prayers that I will never forget this story to remind myself to always be humble, and doing whatever I can to forward the wonderful love I have received.

“Fall on your knees…

O hear the angels’ voices…”

“Perahu Kertas” dan Sepasang Alas Kaki

8 Sep

Jam menunjukkan pukul 4.21 pagi sekarang. Siang nanti, ada sebuah meeting yang bisa jadi berarti strategis bagi keluarga saya. Tapi saya tidak bisa berhenti. Ada suatu hal yang harus saya tuntaskan sekarang juga. Ada sesuatu yang harus saya tangkap dari dada saya. Detik ini juga.

Inilah dia. “Perahu Kertas” membuat saya hampir mati. Bukan, ini bukan sebuah kritik. Sebaliknya, saya hendak mengatakan bahwa ia berhasil melumpuhkan saya. Habis-habisan lunglai karena badai emosi yang, – saya pikir, telah berhasil saya lupakan bertahun-tahun yang lalu. Lantas, bagaimana mungkin sesuatu seperti ini bukanlah hal yang buruk buat saya? Biarkan saya sedikit menjelaskannya.

Saya punya sebuah luka. Hati saya pernah sobek dan berhenti memulihkan diri. Permasalahannya, saya tak pernah tahu bahwa batin saya tak pernah sembuh seperti hati seorang anak kecil yang tersenyum gembira ke orangtuanya sehari setelah kena marah habis-habisan. Saya tak pernah sadar bahwa saya belum pernah berhasil mengumpulkan cukup daya untuk kembali membuat segenap diri saya untuk menjadi putih lagi, sebersih kertas yang tak pernah ditulisi.

Baru setelah saya menyelesaikan “Perahu Kertas”, saya gemetar karena manyadari hal itu. Saya tercekat dalam gempa hati yang seutuh-utuhnya. Segenap jiwa saya terjatuh ke dasar, menggelepar bersama potongan-potongan cerita masa lalu yang entah sampai kapan akan tetap ada di sana. Saya baru tahu, bahwa bangunan yang pernah roboh tak akan pernah terbebas dari puing-puingnya sendiri.

Pertanyaannya kemudian, apakah momen seperti ini harus dijalani oleh seseorang, siapapun dia? Tak akan ada satu jawaban yang tepat untuk semua orang. Namun yang saya tahu, bagi saya pribadi jawabannya adalah ya. Karena manusia hanya mengenal dua keadaan absolut : hidup atau mati. Jika ia mati, berakhirlah segalanya. Ia tak akan mungkin bangkit lagi untuk sebuah tujuan. Paling tidak, inilah yang bisa dilihat secara pragmatis oleh kita yang hidup di bumi ini.

Kuncinya terletak di garis yang berbatasan dengan kematian. Ketika kau hampir mati, di situlah ada sebuah kesempatan untuk dapat hidup kembali. Ketika kau berbaring dekat dengan ajal, sebenarnya di situ ada sepasang alas kaki baru untuk kau pakai berjalan kembali. Inilah titik yang saya tapaki sejam yang lalu saat saya menyelesaikan buku ini. Saya teringsut begitu dekat dengan ajal emosi.

Dan seperti yang saya singgung, “Perahu Kertas” kemudian juga menyelimuti saya dengan hangat. Berbeda dengan kebanyakan pembaca lain dari buku ini, karakter favorit saya bukanlah Keenan atau Kugy. Beliau, – dan saya memberi penekanan pada kata “beliau” -, adalah Pak Wayan. Melalui cerita beliau, saya diingatkan bahwa memiliki bukanlah analogi dari mencintai. Dan ketika hari ini saya mendapati hidup saya telah berbelok dari apa yang terjadi di masa lalu, itu adalah sebuah jalan terjal, tapi sekaligus laik untuk didaki.

Sesaat kemudian, ketika mata saya bergeser ke istri dan anak saya yang sedang tertidur lelap, saya mendadak sadar bahwa saya punya sepasang alas kaki istimewa untuk melangkah ke depan. Saya memiliki segala yang diperlukan untuk merendam diri dalam cinta yang menyembuhkan. Ijinkan saya mengatakan kepada dunia : buku ini membuat saya jatuh cinta lagi kepada istri saya. “Perahu Kertas” menggemakan kenyataan bahwa istri saya adalah sayap yang diberikan Tuhan kepada anak-Nya yang harus belajar terbang kembali. Jika kamu ikut membaca ini, Leonnie, terimalah air mata saya yang meluap dari rasa syukur bahwa kamulah yang sekarang ada di sebelah saya, – dan bukan orang lain.

Untuk Dee, terima kasih atas “Perahu Kertas”. Terima kasih untuk hentakan yang saya perlukan untuk melihat bahwa ada sesuatu di depan sana. Sebuah garis akhir perjalanan yang tak hanya mungkin dicapai, namun juga tak terlalu jauh untuk digapai. Yang harus saya lakukan hanyalah berjalan kembali. Sepelan apapun. Selangkah demi selangkah.

P.S. : gambar diambil dari blog milik Dewi Lestari dan diunggah ulang ke situs pribadi saya. Maaf kalau tak meminta ijin terlebih dahulu J

The Papal Pyroantics : Playing With Fire

18 Mar

This day certainly will not count as one of the best days of my life. In the morning, I learnt that one of my online friends who was honestly caring and thoughtful individual has passed away. Later in the day, I received a not-so-good-news about work, and found myself still hopelessly angry about something in my past. I am certainly worried about my family’s future, yet still, just now I stumbled into something that made me worry about the world in general.

This piece of news from MSNBC reported that The Pope has issued a statement where he reportedly made his first explicit statement about HIV / AIDS. And I must say that what he said failed to impress me. If anything, it even got me feeling disturbed and a bit angered.

On his way to Africa on Tuesday the Pope said that condoms were not the answer in the continent’s fight against HIV. “You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon, where he will begin a seven-day pilgrimage on the continent. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”

In all fairness, he did say that The Vatican encourages sexual abstinence to fight the spread of the disease. In itself, sexual abstinence is a very good thing, if one can indeed keep himself / herself abstaining from sex. But I feel that’s a one very big “if”. What His Holiness failed to comprehend, is the fact that his statement certainly has tremendous potential power to defer the use of condoms among the general population.

Now let us pause for a moment and combine those two conditions. If we can safely assume that the population in general will still engage in sex no matter what anyone might say ( for obvious valid purpose of procreation or just recreation ); and if a lot of people then abhor the use of condoms because a certain religious authority has stated that it only increases the problems ; I shudder to think what the future might bring to this planet in the context of HIV / AIDS. In fact, my fingers were trembling as I typed this post. This is a blatant display of ignorance of what The Papal Throne means. He is a person of authority, and his words hold very big influence over millions of people on this planet. To issue a statement with such dangerous possible implications is very foolish, – regardless of all the best intentions that he had ( in issuing it ).

God, I don’t know. One of my previous posts was written exactly to protest the similar kind of statement made by a certain organization in Indonesia, – now the head of one of the biggest institutionalized religion on earth said the same thing. If I call the said post by the title of “Ideology or Idiocy”, then indeed I am sorry to say that The Pope is walking that very fine hypothetical line between Ideology and Idiocy. He is playing with fire, – and if he continues to do so, it’s going to be one big fire he would not enjoy to try to tame.