All posts filed under “Story of My Life

The Chronicles of Fumiko: Beginnings

Please welcome Fumiko, the latest edition of gadgets to join my humble collection.

Hello, I'm Fumiko!
Hello, I’m Fumiko!

Fumiko is a Fujifilm X20, a sweet-looking petite camera from the land of the rising sun.

I remember years ago writing down owning my very own DSLR as one of my long-term goals. Fast forward to about a year ago I switched to wanting to have a mirrorless camera like a Sony NEX. But then I realized that the temptation to use a variety of (very expensive!) lenses defeats the purpose of having a compact mirrorless. So I decided to go for a fixed-lens, street photography camera that looks great. The X20 hits that sweet spot. [review]

I just bought this baby yesterday, and the business of money-making forced me to not hunt for photos today. Instead, I decided to test on whatever subject I could find lying around the office. Moderate Lightroom editing applied.

Using the super macro feature.
Using the super macro feature.
Taking a step back and using the macro mode.
Taking a step back and using the macro mode.
Testing low-light condition shots.
Testing low-light condition shots.
The black-and-white pictures of this camera are highly praised. Here's one of my own.
The black-and-white pictures of this camera are highly praised. Here’s one of my own.
Focusing is super fast, and this close-up is a testament to that. With almost-ideal light conditions and at ISO 100, this was an easy shot.
Focusing is super fast, and this close-up is a testament to that. With almost-ideal light conditions and at ISO 100, this was an easy shot.
The sun was already setting at this point, so I bumped up the ISO to 6400 and managed to get a grainy portrait, albeit not half as sharp as the previous one.
The sun was already setting at this point, so I bumped up the ISO to 6400 and managed to get a grainy portrait, albeit not half as sharp as the previous one.

That’s it for now, let’s hope Fumiko lives up to its price tag!

Randomize Bandung

Sekali-sekali lah aku menulis lagi tentang perjalanan yang random.

Bandung, kota yang aku ingin kunjungi dari sejak lama, bahkan sempat aku bercita-cita kuliah di ITB. Kota yang sebelum ini hanya sempat kusambangi hanya beberapa hari saja (kalau tidak boleh disebut beberapa jam). Akhirnya semesta memberiku peluang berkunjung ke Bandung, dan tidak tanggung-tanggung, seminggu lamanya!

So here’s my story…

Awalnya ini adalah tugas resmi dari kantor, karena ada pekerjaan yang harus diselesaikan di kantor cabang Bandung. Senin hingga Rabu, bersama seorang kawan yang meskipun baru kukenal tapi adalah seorang traveller ulung. Lalu kami putuskan: cuti di hari Kamis dan Jumat!

Hari Pertama: 5 Mei 2014

Kami awali hari dengan tetap ngantor di Jogja, menyelesaikan beberapa hal yang memang harus selesai di Jogja, lalu ke bandara kami pergi. Airplanes: one of my favorite things in the world. Kami akan naik ATR-72, karena hanya dengan pesawat itu kami bisa pergi ke Bandung. Jarang-jarang ada kesempatan naik pesawat baling-baling yang terbang sedikit lebih rendah daripada jet Boeing atau Airbus. Delightful!

Setelah sesorean di kantor Bandung, beranjaklah kami ke kos eksklusif d’Paragon Bandung, di kawasan Setrasari. Setelah settling down dan berbersih diri, kami keluar lagi, naik angkot random yang ternyata ke Pasir Kaliki. Mengapa kami turun di Pasir Kaliki? Gampang saja, semua penumpang sudah turun kecuali kami, lalu si aa’ supir angkot tanya kami mau ke mana. Tidak punya jawaban, kami turun saja…

Lalu kami menemukan Kafetaria 170. Aku memesan risoles beef, dan kak Ulin memesan roti kukus dengan isi beef ham & eggs. Ternyata roti kukusnya segede gaban, dan risoles nya bener-bener imut bin mungil hahaha… Coffee was so-so, tapi tempatnya cukup asik buat ngobrol.

Setelah kenyang, kami ngangkot lagi ke arah Setrasari, lalu pulang dan tidur.

Hari Kedua: 6 Mei 2014

Setelah kerja seharian di kantor, kami putuskan malam ini kami tidak akan jauh-jauh dari daerah kantor/kos. Kami menemukan Kopi Anjis dan memutuskan nongkrong di situ bersama Dewi. Pisang Gemes Banget, Seblak, Roti Kukus Isi Ham, Kopi Nutella, dan Kopi Hitam menemani obrolan kami malam itu. I wish I could say otherwise, but the coffee was just not to my liking.

Masih penasaran dengan kopi, kami beralih ke Kopi Tiam Hochiak di Plaza Setrasari. The coffee was much, much better! Sayangnya jam buka tidak sampai larut malam jadi kami harus segera pulang.

Hari Ketiga: 7 Mei 2014

Setelah ngantor seharian dan membawa semua bawaan kami ke kantor (baju buat jalan-jalan + laptop + kertas segepok itu berat kawan!), kami harus naik taksi dari kawasan Setrasari ke Dago Atas, tempat kami menginap selanjutnya. Kak Ulin yang menemukan tempat ini, bernama Bantal Guling Guesthouse.

Di taksi kami sudah bingung, ini kok jalan masuknya jauuuh sekali. Tapi begitu check-in dan melihat pemandangan dari teras kamar kami (bunk beds! ^^), kami diam. It was gorgeous! Kalau pernah lihat kota Jogja dari atas Bukit Bintang (Jalan Wonosari), semacam itu tapi versi gedenya lah. Dan itu kelihatan dari teras depan kamar! Delightful!

Inilah pemandangan dari teras kamar. Paling asyik dinikmati di malam hari.
Inilah pemandangan dari teras kamar. Paling asyik dinikmati di malam hari.

Lalu kami lapar. Jalan lah kami keluar, sekitar 20 menit berjalan kaki. Di jalan keluar kami menemukan semacam factory outlet yang saya lupa namanya, dan keluar lagi ke jalan Juanda dan ternyata dekat dengan Terminal Dago.

Batagor! Kami lapar dan melahap batagor di pinggiran terminal, dilayani oleh teteh-teteh yang membedakannya dengan pelanggan pun kami sulit. Bening. Kenyang perut, kenyang batin pula.

Hari Keempat: 8 Mei 2014

Bantal Guling ini agak unik rupanya. Meskipun kamar untuk 2 orang dan kasur juga ada 2 (bunk beds! ^^), selimut hanya ada satu, begitu pun handuk. Masih di laundry katanya. Ya sudahlah, toh kami datang well-prepared

Kami bangun kepagian, seperti biasa, lalu memutuskan jalan-jalan ke sekitar kampung. Lalu kami menemukan ini:

Sekolah Alam Bandung
Sekolah Alam Bandung

Ternyata kami dekat sekali dengan sekolah yang tidak biasa ini. Keren! Bisa melihat soang dan ikan dan alam. Meskipun cita-cita luhurku numpak kebo belum terpenuhi, ini pun sudah cukup menggembirakan.

Sepertinya ini ruang guru.
Sepertinya ini ruang guru.
Salah satu ruang kelas terbuka.
Salah satu ruang kelas terbuka.
Tampaknya seru belajar di atas sana.
Tampaknya seru belajar di atas sana.
Belajar merawat makhluk hidup sedari kecil.
Belajar merawat makhluk hidup sedari kecil.
Interior salah satu ruang kelas yang terbuka. Di kiri atas itu adalah "lantai 2" yang kira-kira fungsinya untuk istirahat siang anak-anak.
Interior salah satu ruang kelas yang terbuka. Di kiri atas itu adalah “lantai 2” yang kira-kira fungsinya untuk istirahat siang anak-anak.

Sarapan di guesthouse adalah nasi goreng tanpa kecap, mie goreng, telur dadar, dan teh/kopi panas bikin sendiri. Setelah makan dan mandi, kami memutuskan untuk “main kanan-kiri”, which is another way of saying “random choice”. Angkot pertama yang lewat kami naiki, dan sampailah kami di Stasiun Hall Bandung. Salah satu ide kami adalah naik kereta ke stasiun kecil entah di mana, lalu jalan-jalan random lagi.

Oiya, perkenalkan, ini adalah Mulyadi, yaitu buntutnya kak Ulin. Karena kami tak begitu suka difoto, beliau lah yang akan menjadi foto model apabila diperlukan. d[^^v]b

Mulyadi di depan Stasiun Hall Bandung
Mulyadi di depan Stasiun Hall Bandung

Sampai stasiun jam 9.24 pagi. KRD Ekonomi Bandung Raya trayek Padalarang-Cicalengka tampak menarik. Tepatnya, Cicalengka tampak menarik. Oke, lihat jadwal. Tujuan Cicalengka berangkat sekitar 10.30. Tujuan Padalarang berangkat 10 menit lagi.

Berangkat ke Padalarang! Dan harga tiketnya absurd! Murah tenin.

Tiket kereta yang harganya absurd!
Tiket kereta yang harganya absurd!

Sampai Padalarang, keluar kereta, beli tiket, masuk lagi, kali ini ke arah Cicalengka. Cara menghabiskan waktu yang brilian saudara-saudara! Sampai ke Cicalengka, naik angkot, yang ternyata salah jurusan kawan-kawan! Turun lah kami di Nagrek. Iya, Nagrek yang itu, yang biasa nongol ketika ada liputan arus mudik dan arus balik. Emangnya ada apa di Nagrek? Ya memang ga ada apa-apa sih.

Setelah tanya ke ibu-ibu penjaga toilet rest area yang sotoy dan mengira kami hendak “bobogohan di tempat gelap“, kami cari angkot lagi yang ke arah Cicalengka. Kami mau cari curug (air terjun), dan ternyata si aa’ supir angkotnya mau kami sewa buat mengantar kami ke Curug Cinulang. Limapuluh ribu rupiah sekali jalan.

Dan beginilah Curug Cinulang:

Curug Cinulang
Curug Cinulang
Curug Cinulang
Curug Cinulang

Setelah cukup sejuk terkena embun dari curug, kami ngangkot lagi turun. Oiya, di perjalanan dari Cicalengka – Curug Cinulang, pemandangannya bener-bener bikin sejuk deh. Bukit-bukit ladang tembakau dan lembah di kejauhan. Untungnya kami sewa angkot, bukan naik ojek, jadi bisa duduk santai di dalam angkot yang isinya cuma kami berdua sambil ngobrol santai dan menikmati pemandangan. Sampai di bawah, si aa’ kami ajak (paksa?) makan bareng dengan kami, lalu dia mengantar kami ke stasiun Cicalengka. Kali ini, kami naik KRD Patas Bandung Raya yang harga tiketnya agak lebih masuk akal: sepuluh ribu rupiah.

Setibanya di Bandung, kami jalan-jalan menyusuri Pasar Baru, random turn, dan kami menemukan toko kopi. Niat kami mencari toko Kopi Aroma Banceuy di Jalan Banceuy, tapi malah menemukan toko kopi lain yang sayangnya aku lupa namanya. Toko itu menjual kopi yang sudah digiling maupun biji kopi yang bisa langsung digiling, dalam toples-toples besar macam wadah kerupuk. Akhirnya kami membeli 2 jenis kopi arabica dan 1 jenis kopi robusta, digiling di tempat. (sayangnya pengemasannya dengan plastik dan di-staples)

Dari toko itu, berbekal petunjuk seadanya dari orang-orang di sekitar kami, kami mencari jalan ke Kopi Aroma Banceuy. Yang terjadi akhirnya adalah kami keblasuk ke Jalan Cibadak, lalu belok-belok-belok entah ke mana, dan akhirnya nangkring di angkot yang ke arah Pasir Kaliki.  Di sinilah kekonyolan terjadi…

Kami naik angkot Dago – Caringin. Duduk manis. Diam. Lalu kami bingung. Mana Dago-nya?

Ternyata itu angkot ke arah Caringin, saudara-saudara sekalian! Si aa’ supir nya sebenernya sudah tanya ketika kami naik, “ke Caringin neng?”, tapi kami sibuk dengan aktivitas nggumun bin umbrus kami. Untungnya sempat ditanya si aa’ sebelum masuk ke pasar sesuatu di dekat Caringin, dan dia mengantar kami ke Simpang Dago. Harusnya siiih, kami ngangkot lagi ke Dago Atas, tapi lalu kami terpikat ini…

Mulyadi di Kopi Kamu
Mulyadi di Kopi Kamu

Kopi Kamu! Naaah… akhirnya kami ngopi di situ, dengan kopi yang freshly ground juga. Harganya 85 ribu untuk 100 gram biji kopi, yang bisa dibikin sekitar 5 cangkir kopi. Ditemani kawan kami yang memang berkantor di Bandung, kami menghabiskan waktu ngobrol sampai tidak ada lagi angkot, dan akhirnya kami bertaksi kembali ke Bantal Guling.

Menyenangkan 🙂

Hari Kelima: 9 Mei 2014

Setelah sarapan di guesthouse, kami menemukan banner Soundsations: Road to Soundrenaline. Menarik! Tampaknya bisa buat tempat nongkrong kami nanti malam.

Lanjut, kami ngangkot dan iseng-iseng masuk ke kampus ITB. Baru sekali ini aku masuk ke kampus ITB, dan memang agak ngangeni ketika melihat adik-adik lucu yang berjalan kesana kemari dengan segala “kesibukan” tugas, kuliah, ujian, dan lain-lain. Kami sempatkan beli jus buah dan makan mie instan di kantin kampus, dan saudara-saudaraku sekalian, bahagia adalah ketika aku membeli gorengan lalu ditanya oleh ibu-ibu penjualnya: “Adek mau beli apa?

Bahagia itu sederhana.

Dari ITB, kami keluar lewat pintu belakang (dekat lapangan softball), lalu jalan kaki lagi ke salah satu persimpangan di situ. Naik angkot lagi lah kami, melihat-lihat suasana kota, dan nyangkut di jalan entah apa namanya yang banyak kampusnya. Ada semacam STIE di situ, tapi lupa juga namanya apa. Tampak kurang menjanjikan, kami naik angkot lagi ke arah berlawanan. Lalu aku tertidur…

Tiba-tiba kak Ulin membangunkanku dan langsung menunjuk ke tepi jalan. Kafe! Spontan aku teriak, “Kiri!”, dan tersangkutlah kami di Kopi Progo.

Mulyadi nangkring di depan Kopi Progo
Mulyadi nangkring di depan Kopi Progo

Kami ini orang-orang yang betah ngafe, dan saat itu bukan perkecualian. Meskipun rambut kami berantakan, badan berkeringat, dan muka udah kucel semacam baju belum disetrika, boleh lah kami menikmati sepiring panekuk dengan topping keju dan kismis, dan menenggak segelas Progo Iced Coffee dan Green Tea something (maap saya lupa).

Mulyadi dengan Progo Iced Coffee dan Green Tea something
Mulyadi dengan Progo Iced Coffee dan Green Tea something
Mulyadi dengan panekuk keju saus something-berry
Mulyadi dengan panekuk keju saus something-berry

Setelah puas ngafe, target kami selanjutnya adalah cilok! Jadi keluar kafe, persis di sebelahnya, kami jajan cilok. Dengan cabe sedikit pun, kami kepedesan, kepanasan pula, tapi bahagia karena sudah ngicip cilok di Bandung. #penting

Kami ngangkot lagi ke arah Dago Atas, dengan maksud mau ke Dago Tea House. Sekali lagi kami tersangkut, kali ini di pasar entah apa namanya di Jalan Juanda. Cita-cita kami sekali lagi sederhana kawan, mencari es tebu. Tapi kami cukup bahagia dengan pisang goreng yang menarik ini.

Pisang goreng beraneka ragam bentuk ^^
Pisang goreng beraneka ragam bentuk ^^
Yang ini sudah dipotong, lalu akan dilumuri saus sesuai selera. Pilihanku: durian!
Yang ini sudah dipotong, lalu akan dilumuri saus sesuai selera. Pilihanku: durian!

Sesampainya di Dago Tea House, kami baru tau bahwa ternyata ini event gratisan! Kami masuk, dan mendapati musik yang menyenangkan di telinga kami. Kalau tidak salah, ada 3 band yang menarik buat kami: Under The Big Bright Yellow Sun, A.F.F.E.N., dan Polyester Embassy. Sayangnya setelah itu kami dibuat bosan oleh stalling yang terlalu lama dan garing, lalu kami pulang.

Mulyadi pun ikut menonton Soundsations
Mulyadi pun ikut menonton Soundsations

Hari Keenam: 10 Mei 2014

Akhirnya kawan-kawan kami dari Jogja datang: Augus, Diah, dan Dali. Datang lalu tidur. Ya iyalah soalnya datangnya pagi subuh. Lalu kami pindah kamar dan bergabung bersama mereka, sekamar berlima. Setelah sarapan standar dan ngobrol sejenak, kami beranjak keluar dan naik angkot ke Simpang Dago. Di jalan kami putuskan untuk ke Lembang, jadi kami ganti angkot ke Sukajadi, lalu ke Lembang. Sampai di Lembang, bingung antara mau ke Maribaya atau ke Observatorium Bosscha, akhirnya kami memutuskan naik ojek ke Bosscha.

Sampai di Bosscha jam 12.45, kami langsung berburu satpam buat ditanyai beli tiketnya di mana. Ternyata saudara-saudara, hari Sabtu adalah hari kunjungan bebas, dan ditutup jam 1 siang! Mepet sekali! Beruntung kami masih bisa dapat tiket masuk dan tidak perlu reservasi seperti hari lain. Sungguh beruntunglah saya, karena ini salah satu tempat yang saya ingin datangi sejak dari lamaaa sekali.

Mulyadi akhirnya bisa masuk Observatorium Bosscha!
Mulyadi akhirnya bisa masuk Observatorium Bosscha!
Yang ini namanya teropong bintang Zeiss double refractor.
Yang ini namanya teropong bintang Zeiss double refractor.

Setelah puas mengagumi salah satu teropong bintang dan ngobrol santai dengan bapak pemandu, kami pun lapar, lalu memutuskan mencari makan. Tapi untuk cari makan maka harus cari angkutan dulu. Jalan kaki lah kami turun ke jalan utama Lembang, sekitar 1 km jauhnya, lalu mencegat angkot. Eh lah, si angkot naik lagi ke jalan yang tadi. Lalu kami diturunkan di jalan kecil, dekat Floating Market Bandung.

Sebenernya tertarik sih mencoba ke situ, tapi dari sejak masuk ke parkiran kami sudah diuber-uber sama tukang parkir yang merangkap tukang palak, annoying sekali. Hilang lah mood kami. Akhirnya naik angkot lagi turun, menuju ke Rumah Sosis yang tadi sudah kami lihat waktu perjalanan menuju Lembang.

Daaan… ternyata Rumah Sosis ini tempat rekreasi dengan kolam renang saudara-saudara! Sosisnya cuma dikit hahaha… Tak apalah, yang penting ada tempat nyangkruk dan rehat sejenak. Setelah perut berisi dan badan sedikit lebih segar, kami ngangkot lagi menuju ke kota Bandung. Ingin pulang, kami turun di Pasir Kaliki dan sekali lagi naik angkot jurusan Caringin – Dago. Tak ingin tertipu lagi, kali ini aku konfirmasi ke supirnya bahwa ini angkot menuju Dago. Aman.

Sampai di Simpang Dago, si angkot luruuus aja. Nggg… harusnya kan belok kiri ya, masuk ke Juanda, lalu ke atas sampai Terminal Dago. Ternyata bukan, saudara-saudara! Entah karena sudah lewat maghrib, atau supirnya iseng, atau memang jalurnya begitu, yang dimaksud Caringin – Dago adalah dari Caringin ke Simpang Dago, bukan Terminal Dago. Tertipu lagi…

Akhirnya setelah putar-putar di Bandung timur entah di mana, balik lagi ke Simpang Dago, kami ganti angkot jurusan Kalapa – Dago. Kali ini bener. Sampai di Terminal Dago, beli batagor idaman kak Diah dan sebutir nanas idaman kak Ulin, lalu pulang, mandi, makan, dan nongkrong di guesthouse.

Hari Ketujuh: 11 Mei 2014

Kami malas. Bangun sih pagi ya, tapi bermalas-malasan di kamar dan baru berangkat sekitar tengah hari. Mengangkot lah kami ke Stasiun Hall dan mencari tempat penitipan barang. Ternyata ada, di seberang pintu selatan, di semacam warung kelontong. Setelah hilang beban berat kami, lalu Braga menjadi tujuan berikutnya.

Kata orang: “ke sana aja teh, nanti ada Bank Jabar, nah itu belok kiri, udah deh Braga”. Well, he forgot to mention that it was a 2 km walk. Tapi gapapa sih, malah asik menyelusup menyelinap di keramaian Pasar Baru. Sampai di Braga, karena memang masih siang ya, jadi puanasnyaaa… Akhirnya kami nyangkut di Braga Huis, tempat pertama yang menawarkan keteduhan dan penghilang dahaga.

Dapet Stella Artois donk di sana. Ndeso ya? Biarin lah, susah cari Stella Artois di Jogja.

Mulyadi dan sebotol Stella Artois ku.
Mulyadi dan sebotol Stella Artois ku.

Setelah puas menenggak minuman se-gendul, kami lanjut lagi jalan menyusuri Braga, dan tersangkut di sebuah gedung tua milik PGN yang ternyata sedang digunakan untuk pameran desain produk. Nyam! Lumayan lah dapat hiburan gratis lagi.

Mulyadi berpose di depan salah satu glider rancangan para mahasiswa.
Mulyadi berpose di depan salah satu glider rancangan para mahasiswa.
Kali ini Mulyadi bertengger di atas model yang nampaknya adalah regional jet, masih buatan para mahasiswa tadi.
Kali ini Mulyadi bertengger di atas model yang nampaknya adalah regional jet, masih buatan para mahasiswa tadi.

**karena saya suka sekali pesawat, dan kebetulan hanya ada foto ini (pun yang memotret adalah kak Ulin), maka ya sudah lah hehehe…

Setelah puas di pameran, kami jalan lagi donk kembali menuju Stasiun Hall. Di jalan menemukan Wiki Koffee, tapi sayangnya tempat itu sudah berubah menjadi tempat ngumpul anak-anak muda hipster. Ya sudahlah, lanjut saja, toh sudah hampir waktunya pulang ini.

Lalu kami tiba di stasiun dan pulaaang…

Hari Kedelapan: 12 Mei 2014

Setibanya di Jogja, sekitar jam 4.30 pagi, kami langsung ke mess kantor, numpang tidur sejenak dan berbersih diri, lalu ngantor lah kami. *kriyip-kriyip*

Itu, saudara-saudara yang budiman, adalah perjalanan kami selama seminggu yang nyaris tanpa rencana. Sekian.

Scarcity Bias

Not long ago I consulted with an old friend on the best strategy to pay off the mountain of debts I had just acquired, which I need for payment of a piece of land I’m trying to buy. Because he needed to evaluate based on hard data, I conceded to giving him all my numbers.

He was stunned.

My debt service ratio was way higher than what most banks would recommend or require for approval of credit, not to mention that my emergency fund was in a pretty ugly shape. He asked what struck me so bad in the head that I had the audacity to proceed with my purchase.

I explained to him that I’ve been searching for years, and I was stuck on another island for too long that even when the right offer popped up I was unable to seize it because of how long it would take and how expensive it would be to immediately close the deal. Now, I’m in a very good position, both geographically and mentally, to seize a deal. Not so much so financially, and this is what raised his flags.

This, my dear friends, is what he called the scarcity bias.

I was too happy to finally find a piece of property that is very appealing, very strategic, and frankly quite a bargain. I was willing to look the other way when hard data suggests that I do not have the financial capability to generate that certain amount of money within that certain amount of time. I was even willing to overlook some of the obvious drawbacks of the property.

This is what he compared my situation with: You’re a grumpy old single person who hasn’t had a girlfriend in ages, has failed at dozens of attempts at getting a girlfriend, and you’re in a community where people show off their spouses and how happy they are and look down on you for being single. Now, this girl comes up to you and shows a genuine interest.

You’d feel like she’s the one, the angel from heaven who descended upon the mere mortal that is you.

After a while you’d realize that she’s not that divine. Not at all. Eventually the entirety of her dark side comes into view, but you choose to close your eyes, because you don’t want to wake up to the reality that she is not the one who can make you happy.

That’s quite a dramatic analogy, but it kinda hits the spot.

So there you have it, a random post about a curious little thing called Scarcity Bias.

Cheers.

Collateral Damage

When you’re in love, everything about that person becomes a source of joy. Their jokes become so funny, their little favors so precious, their mistakes silly and forgivable, their flaws nonexistent.

When you’re hurt by someone, everything about that person becomes a source of negative energy. Their jokes become harsh sarcasm, their kind intentions tainted by hidden agendas, their mistakes unforgivable, their flaws unmistakably true and intolerable.

Either way, you’ll forget about your “friends”, those who are neither your object of infatuation nor your perpetual enemy, the bystanders caught in the crossfire — the very persons who actually care about you but have no way to get into your life anymore. They will lose their priority in your agenda, and/or become a target of your never ending complaints and tantrums. If you’re not careful enough, by the time you finally regain control of your emotions, they’ll be long gone.

Damage prevention: keep your feet on the ground at all times.

Damage control: get your feet back on the ground.

‘Nuff said.

Don’t Expect

There’s a quote I remember from a long time ago:

The universe owes you absolutely NOTHING. You owe it to yourself to be awesome.

Unfortunately I can’t remember who I heard this quote from or where I had read it. But the message is still intact in my head. Do not, ever rely on anything or anyone to make you awesome, or worse, happy. Never ever expect anything from anyone.

Your best pals tells you everything. So what? Don’t expect them to listen to your stories.

Your best pals ask you how your day went. So what? Expect them to hear, but don’t expect them to listen.

Your best pals listen to you every time you blurt out whatever it is that’s been eating you. So what? Don’t expect them to understand.

You spend all day with a person and happily let go of your plans for theirs because you enjoy being with them. So what? Don’t expect them to ask you to go on that road trip next weekend.

You treat your pals out to dinner every now and then. So what? Don’t expect them to splurge on you.

You try to be funny. So what? Don’t expect anyone to laugh at your jokes.

You try so hard to make a person smile. So what? Don’t expect them to notice.

Somebody smiles to you. So what? Don’t expect them to actually care.

You try to be nice to the world. So what? The universe owes you NOTHING. Zilch. Nada. Null.

If you wanna be nice to the world, just be nice. But you need to somehow learn that that doesn’t automagically make the world be nice to you.

The Fear Factor

This is just a summary of what the reverend said during this morning’s service.

Fear impairs, distorts, and ultimately destroys relationships. How? Let’s see…

First of all, let’s talk about the benefits of fear. Fear keeps you out of trouble. It safeguards you from dangerous things. Fear keeps you alive. Want proof? Why do you think we always look carefully left and right before crossing the road, even when we’re on a pedestrian crossing? Because we don’t want to get hit by a car. Why? Because we’re scared of getting hurt, we’re scared of getting injured, and we’re afraid of death. If we weren’t so scared of death, the world’s population might be a lot lower than it is today.

Alright then, on to the next question: what’s so bad about fear?

Fear distorts the way we think. Imagine you’ve stolen a car and you’re cruising around town. The fear in your mind keeps you alert and vigilant. But you’ll start getting paranoid. You’d think that every cop in town is going after you, and you’d even think some ordinary people are actually cops in civilian clothing. You’d be extra careful, but the paranoia would just make you jumpy, and then you’d start making mistakes that you wouldn’t have done if you had no fear. Also, fear makes us lie, because we think we can protect ourselves and the people and/or things that are of value to us by lying. Obviously, this will just make things worse.

Fear makes us possessive. If you think you own something, and you fear of losing it, you’d be extra careful about where you put it, how you treat it, and so on. That’s why people who own old indestructible Nokia phones are more easygoing about their phones than iPhone owners. Same thing with humans: if you think you own someone and you fear of losing them, you’d do all kinds of crazy things to keep that person yours. You’d be overprotective or just be plain annoying to that person, and in the end all that’s gonna get you is a bad end to your relationship.

Fear makes us focus on the wrong things. Imagine a room full of people, and then suddenly a guy appears at the door and starts shooting a machine gun. Two things will happen. First, people will scatter around, duck, run, and just find cover. This puts distance between people. After that, people who still survive will group together and just hold on so tightly to each other because of fear. This destroys everyone’s personal space. In this particular shooting scenario, we are supposed to follow our survival instincts, otherwise we’ll die. But in relationships, if we focus on our fear of losing someone or something, we may let our survival instincts take over. We then become so focused on preserving ourselves and what we think we own. The same things happen: we stay away, or we move too close. When people do this, relationships get strained and even destroyed.

So, the key to have a good relationship (or, as the reverend says it, a good fellowship), we must properly address our fears. Here are some examples.

Don’t be afraid of losing anything. If you are afraid of losing your phone, your money, your house, or even your spouse, you’re forgetting where you got those things in the first place. God gave us everything we own. If it hadn’t been for Him, we would’ve owned nothing. So why are we grasping so tightly on to things we think we own? We don’t need to be afraid of losing our job, our career, our money, our house, because He will provide for us. If we truly love someone, we don’t have to be afraid of losing them, because true love sets people free, it empowers people instead of putting them in a cage that we created. So what this means for us is that we need to change what drives us to do things. Do your job because you love it. Hang out with your boss not because you’re expecting a promotion but because he really is a good guy and you love conversing over a cup of coffee with him. Hang out with your friends because you enjoy being with them. Do good things to your crush/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse because you love them, not because you fear of losing them. When we can do this, we can be more sincere in everything we do, and we can have peace of mind because we’re not afraid of losing anything. We are free to be ourselves, free to express how we feel, and free to enjoy life as we should.

Don’t be afraid to give. People often hesitate to give because they think they don’t even have enough for themselves. Well, they should again remember who gave them all their stuff in the first place: God. Other people are afraid to give because they are afraid of rejection. They then shield themselves with masks and pretend to feel nothing, even though deep in their fragile hearts they yearn to express their love to other people. Simple example: some kids don’t want to go to school for fear of not getting any friends. They think other kids are mean even though they haven’t met anybody yet. Another example: teens or even adults back out of a possible relationship because they fear of getting rejected and hurt. Well hey, if you really love that person, you’ll be focusing on sincerely giving your love to him/her instead of protecting your own weak heart. If you get hurt because you’re rejected, then you’re not in love; you’re just seeking to control that one person that catches your attention (and perhaps spikes your hormone levels). When you give sincerely, with the correct motivation, and in the correct proportion (just enough — not less or more than what is needed), your gift will be a blessing and will enhance your relationship.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. In a healthy relationship, no one is scared of being themselves. If, for example, a kid is afraid to tell her dad that she wants to study architecture because her dad wants her to go to med school, there’s something wrong with their relationship. A truly healthy relationship frees everyone to be themselves, completely, without compromising each person’s personal space, and without dissolving the unique personality of everyone involved. A good example is when we try to empathize with a friend who is sad. We try to put ourselves in her shoes, try to feel her pain and sadness. In the end, when she has recovered and is happy again, we end up being the grumpy guy because we’re still feeling her pain and sadness. That’s not empathizing, that’s sympathizing, and we end up losing our own self. We need to constantly remember that I am I, and you are you, and there is no way I can be you or you can be me. When we empathize with someone, we may attempt to understand their feelings and emotions, but we must always be aware that it is them who are feeling those feelings and emotions, not us.

So, what happens when fear is kicked out of our relationships? We can have a sincere, healthy, and balanced relationship. We can have a fulfilling relationship, one that enhances our experience of life and allows us to enjoy it as best we can. Let’s try.

Moms

…and what they’d do to protect their kids.

Moms

I know she’ll catch me whenever I fall. But she can’t protect me from the choices I make.

It doesn’t matter, mom, I still love you.

Make Me A Channel of Your Peace

Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes you just want to kill yourself and get it over with. Sometimes those who you trust most, those who you hold dear to your heart, turn out to be the ones who betray you. And because they are the ones who make your life seem worthwhile, the cut feels deeper than it actually is.

There maybe people who can calm you down, remind you that everything is not lost. They’re only humans. They are not perfect. But there is one perfect solution.

This is one of the ways it is sung:

It is the prayer of St. Francis.

Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul!

Make me a channel of your peace:
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Humans can’t save you. You can’t even save yourself. But He in who we trust, He will take care of you.

Humans sleep. They eat, they go to work, they ignore, they lie. They do all kinds of bad stuff. But He will always, always be available.

I hope you‘ll find your peace soon.

Vanilla Me

I realize that just a few months ago I posted about how I should be thankful, how no one was able to be a perfect friend, and that my friends are good enough for me. Well, I just had this thought…

This is not a gripe. Just a thought.

What if… I didn’t have all the things I have right now? What if I didn’t have a 32-inch LED TV? What if I didn’t have a motorbike? What if I didn’t have a MacBook? Or a sound system set? A gym membership?

What if I didn’t know a thing about programming? What if I was stupid? What if I had no arms or no legs or no limbs at all? What if I had that nasty tumor attack me once more and I bleed to an almost certain death?

Nah, it’s getting too extreme… Let’s take a few steps back…

What if I was just… me? Plain-old-me. Vanilla me. No possessions. No wealth. No skills.

Just. Me.

Would you still be my friend? Would you still want to be a friend to me?

Would you ask if I wanted to go to the beach? Would you text me or buzz me just to see if I’m OK? Would you care if I hadn’t eaten lunch? Would you tell me how your mom scolded your sister because she went out with the wrong boy? Would you share a bowl of fruits with me because both of us couldn’t afford a full meal? Would you ask me to meet up just so we could talk about anything and everything until both of us couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore?

Would you?