The Man

You know it’s always about a moment when it strikes you. Words flew out from your thoughts and you were like i need to write this right here, yes right here, right now. I am not a wordsmith, as much as i wish whatever came out from my mouth has the same weight and dignity as what came out out of my writing, i couldn’t force it. Just like when you cannot force a person to be able to sing when he has no natural talent in hitting the note right.

I am writing this in a dark corner of a bar in Bangsar. With my glass of merlot in one hand and my phone occupying the other. It stroke me just now all of the words i am writing.

Be careful of the life you wish you have or if you have yet wish any kind of life. Beware. To this point of life, i believe people get what they want. If you work hard enough to get there, trust me you’ll get there. I had always wanted to get out from Jakarta, i hate the city so much I just realized i always had massive headache whenever i came back. So i left, i didn’t leave, my job forced me to leave. So I left.

Two months later nothing in Jakarta matters. Not even a single bit and piece of memory left.

I get used to my solitude that i realized one bad thing, i don’t like meeting people. I don’t like doing the small talks the big talks, whatever kind of talks. I don’t like meeting my friends because the situation i’m in isn’t that understandable that i am at the point where i stopped trying to explain or tell story. I stopped telling stories to my mother because i have no time to pick up the phone and call her.

You know it’s bullshit, right?

Nobody is busy enough to text and say “hey mom, i’m doing fine.” It takes zero effort to do that. What I understand from the takeaways of life: you can’t do everything at once, what you can do is prioritize. Juggling between taking care of your own self, family, your work, dream, and so many other things in life.

Now, everything feels cheap. Trust me, it is. That fancy 5 stars hotel, that fancy car, that fancy shoes, that fancy restaurant, that super expensive flight, all of them fancy everything doesn’t feel fancy anymore. It’s just another day of waking up from a short sleep, taking a short shower, eating a short buffet breakfast that people longed to have it everyday, and then taking calls in that uber, and then another long hours at work, it is just another day. Sometimes when you think about it, everything in life diminishes. Just like now i had enough of wine each week. *wink

You know what’s expensive? Feeling. Having feeling in some sort. Name it, sadness, happy, angry, missing, upset, whatever feeling. It’s not there, nothing. I go on for months with such voidness. At this point, i would pay for having feelings. The other day i dreamt my dad passed away. I can’t remember why. What i recalled at that point was that i feel fine with it. Not sad, just fine because now i can afford life independently. I woke up and called my dad. It was 3 am, it was 2 am his time then, he picked up and sounded worry. “What happened?” I told him I was fine, i had a bad dream and wanted to check on him. He said he couldn’t sleep. First day at hotel, he said. I told him to go back to sleep. This is being in nothingness.

Now, I’m in love with this new city, this job, this ever-traveling life. The not so glamorous part of it was that it’s a lonely life. It’s lonely even with a family, it’s lonely even with a significant other. Why though? What’s make it so lonely? It’s not easy to tell what you do and why you do it, it’s not easy to tell them how we work, we just work. Deliver results, especially in this hard time for the company. Some may say i don’t really like my job. Maybe it’s true at first. Now, i love working here. The ruthless culture it has, the harsh attitude in delivering results, the beliefs that we bring invaluable products to human lives, i love it. I love every single day i interact with people across the continents. Fucking tiring, but it feels fucking awesome. That timely chance of talking to global CFOs, get spazzed out by global CFOs, or get praised by global CFOs. I love it to the point i don’t have to be paid to do it. Well…not really. I love it to the point where i dream about fucking up my work and lose 50M dollars.

Be careful of life you wish you have. Now I am working abroad, rarely come home, eating good food every single day, drinking good wine twice a week, rarely see people i know from life before, doing the work that inspires me with people who are more ruthless than i am, being in nothingness. I get what I want and will continue to get what I want.

At least for now. At least for now, i am the man.

But you know, the wheels are constantly rotating. Who knows what happens next…or where to go. Nobody, not even the man.

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The making of my father

We arrived a little over noon. The sun hangs low as people chat around to have gatherings. This is my third time being here. Eight years ago this small village behind the vast mountain existed just like what i see today. It does not change a bit. Ah i know, i seek for change when i do not believe on transformation of human being. People, to me, stay the same. However i believe cities should have progressive development. This one does not have any particular difference from all those years. What a waste! Eight fucking years and nothing changes. I saw kids playing by the river that was dirtier than what it had been. My heart sinks. How could my father do it? 

The other day i broke my father’s heart. His heart broke yesterday in front of my eyes I let it broken. I don’t understand why it happened, all i knew was a minute later he was dissapointed. So you see, i think being alone for almost 4 years eats the part of my brain to live with my family. Usually i have control on having my alone time after a day of socializing. Now i can’t. My parents don’t understand there is such thing as introversion. They love talking and having people around the clock. Living faraway from home let me be in control with when to talk and when to let the phone buzz without answering. Now once i am home, i have no control of that. It’s always meeting people and socializing, and talking that i start to feel exhausted. I don’t have my time to be alone with my thoughts, to arrange the day, to just be with myself. Thus yesterday i cracked, so i said rude things to my father that i did not mean it. I was just tired. 

My father is an amazing person. Opposite from my introversion, he is the life of a party. People love him and he loves people. He would love to host a complete stranger he met at an airport or he sat next to some days just for the sake of loving having people around. Today i arrived at my father hometown in the eastern part of Indonesia. He was one of the successful kid who dare to go out from his small village to roam away. I am stunned by his courage. You see, my grand father could not read. He taught people to read Quran yet he encouraged my father and his brothers to go to school. So every kid of my grandpa went to school and did ok. My dad, you see, he loves his small hometown where he had his buffalos, catched fish, and went to school when he was a kid. How could someone in poverty dreamed that big? My dad, he pushed himself further, he dreamed and dreamed. Once when i was just a kid he told me to dream big. He said it would cost nothing to dream. So dream on he’d say when he tucked me to bed. 

He pursued his career in research for buffalo. He is one of the prominent buffalo expert in the country. He does what he loves the most and today i am here to go fishing near Tambora the first thing tomorrow. Couple years ago when I was a 6 or 7, my brother went on fishing. The storm came that afternoon as the tried to catch some fish. Boy was it storming. It became one of the greatest story of my brother’s . Anyway, so my dad went to school. Before he even snatched his bachelor degree, both of his parents died. He said, “when I heard that your grandma passed away, i was about to do an exam. Then a telegram came from home saying ‘your mama died today’. I stopped and cried for a while. I thought it was no use to be sad, she passed away already. What can i use my sadness for? So I went on with life, did my exam, and went home a week later”. He found his father was weak after her mother’s passing so he said that he needed to get back to school because it was about to start soon, “if you happen to pass away too, i am very sorry if I have done wrong things during my life”. My grandpa nodded and let him go. One year later he passed away. 

My father went to life the harsh way. Ways that i never go through. When we passed a village 200km from his hometown he told me once he walked from his house to this village 4 days 4 nights to carry buffalos. How could you walk 200km? I cannot fathom the thought of walking under this sun. Eastern indonesia has the driest humidity compared to any place in the country. So when the sun shines, it burns. In the old days, water was luxury. So alone that 200km, one cannot find water sources easily like today. That is only one story of my fathers. 

I remember one day my father watched Laskar Pelangi. He cried his guts out remembering all things he went through in life as a kid. Boy was he tired. He cried and cried after the movie ended. He said it reminded him of his struggle in poverty and him making way out of it. How could he do it?

I started to think about how i broke his heart last night. About not being grateful i still have him around to support me even though I have my bachelor degree, about not being there when my parents need me the most, about all the struggle my father did (my mother came from a well off family but without her mother around so the struggle was different). How could he make it? How could one made it so far?

Egotistical views of the world

To have the power of knowing is the greatest thing human can achieve. No I do not like how this sound. To have the power to build, change, create, seek, and destroy is the best thing that one can do. One must and shall do all his life. The thing is most men do not know that alone he can create, build, change, seek and destroy. Creating is an act of making a concept into a real form. Take it more simple, forming an idea out of nothingness is one act of creating.

Who am I to tell you about creating?

I, today, or yesterday, or whenever the space and time could be in between this moment to the point of space and time which I referred to, am the winner of a contest some men can never had. The whole day I was wondering about what was it that I did so well in life to God or any conception of something greater than human’s and nature’s force that I deserved all these virtues? What virtues?

The virtue of knowing. The virtue of finding answer to one’s question. Yesterday, or days after that, I am alive. How, astonished as I was, can one be reborn all over again in a year? Over and over again I was reborn, today I am older in years compared to what I was years ago yet I had not aged. The soul, you see, the soul is the key as what Ellsworth Toohey said to Keating one night in Keating’s living room. I wish I would not, ever in many years, to repeat Mr Toheey’s word in any of my prose. However I used them today. It is the soul that you need to save. It is the soul that matters. It is what’s in you that drives all of your thinking process and also determines your deeds in the world.

I grew up as an egotist, reborn again as an egotist, a young egotist with hunger and excitement of the world.

One would not ever in a million years change to become another form of person. One will remains as one always has. If one ever changes, then It is not that he changes but he is showing his true self. The thing about people is they always think about change whenever seeing a new thing, or when encountering an old friend in a coffeeshop. People do not have the courage to stay settle in one state. That change, for people, is inevitable when the truth is nobody changes. We always keep still within our true self, if we are the true egotist. We do not change, we do not adapt to our surrounding.  We create and we build as we are to what we aspire that creation to be in all sort of forms that we have as our ideals. We do not compromise, we do not go slow as the time goes by, we keep still as we are. We work as we are.

Most people spend their life to seek their true self when, stressed by Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, one shall understand their true soul and self without finding it in places outside the body, mind and the soul.

I am not speaking in Ayn Rand’s words. I am speaking as I am as I have always had. I may, I admit, have gone weary along my early years in college trying to find peace by having friends and good relationship. You see, that was the problem, when one accepted to be led by any other driver other than his own spirit, mind and soul, one will go weary. The worst thing, when one give the power of others to instil ideals coming from a source outside of the mind, one will go selfless. What is worst than having a body so hollow without the thinking process? A void, a black void.

Dominique’s fondness of Roark

Late at night, often, she came to Roark’s room. She came unannounced, certain of finding him there and alone. In his room, there was no necessity to spare, lie, agree and erase herself out of being. Here she was free to resist, to see her resistance welcomed by an adversary too strong to fear a contest, strong enough to need it; she found a will granting her the recognition of her own entity, untouched and not to be touched except in clean battle, to win or to be defeated, but to be preserved in victory or defeat, not ground into the meaningless pulp of the impersonal.

When they lay in bed together it was–as it had to be, as the nature of the act demanded–an act of violence. It was surrender, made the more complete by the force of their resistance. It was an act of tension, as the great things on earth are things of tension. It was tense as electricity, the force fed on resistance, rushing through wires of metal stretched tight; it was tense as water made into power by the restraining violence of a dam. The touch of his skin against hers was not a caress, but a wave of pain, it became pain by being wanted too much, by releasing in fulfillment all the past hours of desire and denial. It was an act of clenched teeth and hatred, it was the unendurable, the agony, an act of passion–the word born to mean suffering–it was the moment made of hatred, tension, pain–the moment that broke its own elements, inverted them, triumphed, swept into a denial of all suffering, into its antithesis, into ecstasy.

She came to his room from a party, wearing an evening gown expensive and fragile like a coating of ice over her body–and she leaned against the wall, feeling the rough plaster under her skin, glancing slowly at every object around her, at the crude kitchen table loaded with sheets of paper, at the steel rulers, at the towels smudged by the black prints of five fingers, at the bare boards of the floor–and she let her glance slide down the length of her shining satin, down to the small triangle of a silver sandal, thinking of how she would be undressed here. She liked to wander about the room, to throw her gloves down among a litter of pencils, rubber erasers and rags, to put her small silver bag on a stained, discarded shirt, to snap open the catch of a diamond bracelet and drop it on a plate with the remnant of a sandwich, by an unfinished drawing. “Roark,” she said, standing behind his chair, her arms over his shoulders, her hand under his shirt, fingers spread and pressed flat against his chest, “I made Mr. Symons promise his job to Peter Keating today. Thirty-five floors, and anything he’ll wish to make it cost, money no objective, just art, free art.” She heard the sound of his soft chuckle, but he did not turn to look at her, only his fingers closed over her wrist and he pushed her hand farther down under his shirt, pressing it hard against his skin. Then she pulled his head back, and she bent down to cover his mouth with hers.

She came in and found a copy of the Banner spread out on his table, open at the page bearing “Your House” by Dominique Francon. Her column contained the line: “Howard Roark is the Marquis de Sade of architecture. He’s in love with his buildings–and look at them.” She knew that he disliked the Banner, that he put it there only for her sake, that he watched her noticing it, with the half-smile she dreaded on his face. She was angry; she wanted him to read everything she wrote, yet she would have preferred to think that it hurt him enough to make him avoid it. Later, lying across the bed, with his mouth on her breast, she looked past the orange tangle of his head, at that sheet of newspaper on the table, and he felt her trembling with pleasure.

She sat on the floor, at his feet, her head pressed to his knees, holding his hand, closing her fist in turn over each of his fingers, closing it tight and letting it slide slowly down the length of his finger, feeling the hard, small stops at the joints, and she asked softly: “Roark, you wanted to get the Colton factory? You wanted it very badly?”

“Yes, very badly,” he answered, without smiling and without pain. Then she raised his hand to her lips and held it there for a long time.

She got out of bed in the darkness, and walked naked across his room to take a cigarette from the table. She bent to the light of a match, her flat stomach rounded faintly in the movement. He said: “Light one for me,” and she put a cigarette between his lips; then she wandered through the dark room, smoking, while he lay in bed, propped up on his elbow, watching her.

Once she came in and found him working at his table. He said: “I’ve got to finish this. Sit down. Wait.” He did not look at her again. She waited silently, huddled in a chair at the farthest end of the room. She watched the straight lines of his eyebrows drawn in concentration, the set of his mouth, the vein beating under the tight skin of his neck, the sharp, surgical assurance of his hand. He did not look like an artist, he looked like the quarry worker, like a wrecker demolishing walls, and like a monk. Then she did not want him to stop or glance at her, because she wanted to watch the ascetic purity of his person, the absence of all sensuality; to watch that–and to think of what she remembered.

There were nights when he came to her apartment, as she came to his, without warning. If she had guests, he said: “Get rid of them,” and walked into the bedroom while she obeyed. They had a silent agreement, understood without mention, never to be seen together. Her bedroom was an exquisite place of glass and pale ice-green. He liked to come in wearing clothes stained by a day spent on the construction site. He liked to throw back the covers of her bed, then to sit talking quietly for an hour or two, not looking at the bed, not mentioning her writing or buildings or the latest commission she had obtained for Peter Keating, the simplicity of being at ease, here, like this, making the hours more sensual than the moments they delayed. 

There were evenings when they sat together in her living room, at the huge window high over the city. She liked to see him at that window. He would stand, half turned to her, smoking, looking at the city below. She would move away from him and sit down on the floor in the middle of the room and watch him. 

(The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand)

Grey hues of Angkor Wat

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“Aren’t you scared? I mean I am not trying to scare you, but do you ever feel scared?” I am scared of the dark and of ghost. Other than those two, nothing really feel so scary. Being alone never scared me once, it vanished long time ago when I cried myself to sleep in a dorm room, first night away from my mother to be in a bootcamp for science olympiad. I was 10 years old, locked out in an uncomfortable dorm room with 10 other kids. I remember that night I cried myself to sleep silently. Looking back now, I think other 10 kids must had cried that night secretly and woke up with damp pillow the next morning. After that night and many nights of bootcamps, scared of being away from home has never appeared again.

I have to write about this I really have to

It was a quiet morning when I got off from a motorbike ride from the nearest skytrain station to the Bus terminal. Bangkok was very pretty that morning. The sun rose up high with a breezy wind being wet from last night’s rain. There I was standing in front of the Bus station with a one way ticket to Siem Reap that I purchased the first thing the other day. If anything, fear was off the record. I came there with one small carry on bag on my hand and my lack of cash in the other. 60 Baht for a ride from Mo Chit BTS station to the Bus Terminal. Yesterday the fare was 50 Baht but never mind.

I had a long way ahead to think about than 10 Baht difference of a ride. I had a life time to think about.

The bus left at 9.02 that morning. We drove past Bangkok. Away, away to the vast vast land of Southeast Asia. Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967 suddenly played in my ears. The whole scene was ecstatic.

Being in nothingness. No starting, no end point. Just one be in one own state of mind. Peaceful is not strong enough to describe the detox on that ride. Faraway the cloud started to form a Cumulonimbus cloud. I used to watch the rain formed in the window in my childhood home in Gatton and Gunungsari. That day on the bus ride I cried in happiness, all the forgotten joy of being in one’s idea of being came inside one’s mind again. That day I felt as if I was born once again in Cambodia, October 12 2016.

Dad always said I will go far looking at a birth marks under my feet. He said that I will fly away as far as possible. He might not be right but I kept that words dear inside. “Roam,” he said. “Faraway across the sea! Open your eyes to things you never wish to see. Go far to places I never imagine myself would be,” he added. I love my Dad so much. Never once as a kid I understood his ideals in life. On that bus ride I knew, that all along this time, my Dad is Howard Roark, hated by many, respected by many, loved by few.

I thought about Howard on that bus ride. I wish he was there seeing the cloud hung low with all the rain to pour. I thought about my mother, how she would hate the ride and would pick to fly instead. I thought about my brother too. I only thought of that 4 people all along the road. Nobody matters more than those people. That perhaps I need to limit the attachment and dependence towards the existence of these 4 people. Thus when the day comes that they won’t be there to catch me when I fall, I will be ready to hit the ground.

Up until today, I am not ready to fall without Howard being there to joke the sadness away. Last week he joked about my failure. He was right, that this whole thing was a little sick obsession that I carried with me with no reasonable causes. That the failure was not real, it was only a process of searching one’s personal ambition. That my ambition was my own, that when I think about it again, it was a sick obsession that was consuming, tiring and the worst of all empty.

Life is still a long long way to go. The bus ride symbolized life at some point. That the whole ride was beautiful and bumpy sometimes. That your bus could break at one point under a wet monsoon rain of Asia. This monsoon rain used bring Malaria to US troops in the Great Vietnam War. But to hell with it! Your ride is long, your bus needs to be fixed so that you can move on.

The bus stopped in a outer worldly Cambodian wet land, Siem Reap. It turned right to a bumpy pathway and then stopped in front of Tuk-Tuk drivers holding placard of names like Mr. Jones Rampart or Mrs. Xi. Getting off the bus felt like finally I made one leap in my life. I stepped into the red land of Siem Reap. Red and wet with the rain. It did not felt like the rain would stop soon so I went on not caring about how soaking wet I was. After all, when you made it to that critical point of your life, you won’t mind how you look or how wet you were from the rain. I drove on and on, even when the rain poured. Especially when the rain poured.

I decided that day to visit Cambodia just to see Angkor Wat’s sunrise. Thousands of people all over the world came the next morning just to catch the first Angkor sunrise. I was one of the immovable feast. Cliché it is! Oh how the odd grand Angkor wat gave me goosebumps during the sunrise. The wet damp rain crept inside the pores of each temples. The damp cold Angkor released the mist while the sun rose up, created a massive cloud of foggy Angkor. Then the fog hung low during the sunrise as if it showed off its mysterious beauty. It was blunt, feared, and respected. It was another Howard Roark manifestation. 

Crossing the pillars of Angkor Wat felt like magic. The enormous and never ending excitements towards each corner never failed to make one stopped and wondered in between all ruins. This were all ruins, massive beautiful ruins where millions of people each year came by just to be astonished. Each line was perfectly alligned crossing one another, developing unimaginable relief with stories to tell. One part of the relief drew the stories of elepants and humans back on the days. I remembered mother who used to picke up bed time stories book and read one for me before sleeping. Some other time she read materials for my exam the next day. Mother was faraway in sight yet is very close to mind.

On the road back to Bangkok I played Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967 again. Still the whole ride was magnificent. I sat in same side of the bus overlooking the wide open space of Southeast Asia Peninsula. What is it that one seek in this world? What is it that we all were desperately fighting for? 

Was it family? Was it one’s personal driver? Was it all for nothing? 

I realized I was once nothing. I was no one until somehow the social establishment agreed to call upon me with one particular name. That beyond this name, all meanings started to form in all sorts of longitude and depth both afore and upfront my existence. I evolved during the time to some extent that I started to develop imagination of who I aspire to become and what I came for. 

Worst thing that I imagine happens to oneself is emptiness. A hollow creature who mimics whatever it is the world told him to do. An empty man. A con. An imposture. One should have an ideal and hold that ideal no matter what might happen. One could always change that ideal if and only if the evolution is driven by one’s own concious decision. One should, as Howard said the other day, use his common sense. 

My biggest fear in this world, I realized,  is not of being left alone or of the darkest night yet I am afraid of being an impostor during my old days. That what one self was a collection of fraud believes just to justify such fake existence. Howard asked me what was wrong with me when I blamed him for being too cruel. Too bad, that night I was not Roark. I was myself evolving to such unknown state of oneself.