Numbers

We live in the world where everything is measured by numbers. Intangibles have to be transformed into tangibles that can be represented by certain numbers.

In society today, if we do not measure, we do not comprehend. Those that cannot be translated into something measurable seem to loose their place in society, not because of their insignificance, but because of our lack of understanding on how and where to place them.

Universities measure the quality of their students by numbers that result from various test, believed to signify students academic capabilities. People’s stability are measured by numbers in their bank statement. Our health is measured by digits stated in our medical lab report. The food that savors our life, which involves the complicated concept of taste starting from delicacies touching our taste buds and ending in chemicals released by our brain, is measured in calories. A painting is measured by numbers in a price tag. Earthquake is measured in richter.

Representing everything with numbers is an act of human to simplify matters so that comprehension can be equal. However, problems arise when this way of communication is considered to represent the whole meaning. We sometimes forget that numbers are representation of something being measured, but not the essence of that being measured.

Integrity, personality, and attitude come next after GPA or other numbers representing academic achievement.

Happiness becomes a mere vague desire as compared to digits in bank statement or value of assets

Balance of body, mind and soul is less flashy than cholesterol indicator.

The sensation of taste is nulled and replaced by the so-called health pills that supply the needs for calories.

Vulgarity wins over complex beauty.

Appreciation of a painting comes from interpretation of numbers instead of from what is whispered behind each stroke. 

The words of a shaky mother earth are lost in messy graphs, and all numbers associated with the event (numbers of casualties, financial destruction, etc).

These obsessive behavior to measure have caused reductions of meaning and hide connections between all things. We crave for meaning and understanding of life, but no clue on where to search them and how to find them, because all we see are numbers. These numbers should have been enough, that’s what we have been told and believed, but apparently they are not. No matter how much we can brag about our accomplishment in terms of number, like the huge amount of our assets, the low cholesterol level that signifies our health, the number of high-rated paintings that are lining on walls in our house, there is a huge spot in our life that is still missing. In fact, the spot is getting wider and wider until it stains the sense of accomplishing all those numbers, and in the end we realize we have nothing but numbers, literally.

Afterwards, there comes the task of unveiling each layer of those numbers, until we see the connection between what we are looking for, which is what we think we lack of, and what has always been there, in ourselves and in all things.

After that, numbers do not seem to matter although they still exist. And there is only peace and a simple thanks to what lies beneath.

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‘Tak Ada Zoba’ (Refleksi dalam Cerita)

Aku adalah kematian. Di alam di mana wujudku nyata, mereka memanggilku Zoba.

Apa?? Menurut kalian aku mengada-ada karena namaku berbeda dengan sebutan yang kalian tahu selama ini??

Kalian, manusia, memang pelupa, bodoh, dan munafik! Adalah golongan kalian sendiri yang mengatakan ‘Apalah artinya sebuah nama…’

Tapi tunggu, ….. tuduhanku sepertinya tak berdasar. Perkataan indah itu bukan berasal dari mulut-tak-bijak golongan kalian. Maafkan aku. Sang Satu memilih ladang pikiran nan indah milik seorang manusia untuk tempat persemaian kalimat-kalimat indah milikNya seorang, dan mengirim sang pembawa pesan, Zula, untuk menyampaikannya. Bagi kalian, manusia penerima pesan yang melantunkan kalimat-kalimat indah semacam itu hanya pujangga. Bagi kami, dia adalah perpanjangan tangan sebuah pesan langit.

Sang pengantar pesan, Zula, selalu menjalankan tugasnya dengan bangga dan penuh suka cita. Siapapun akan melambung bila mengemban tugas sepenting itu dari Sang Satu. Semua pesan Sang Satu menyimpan makna. Di balik semua pesan itu ada akar bagi semua, Sang Satu.

Sebuah bisikan dari Sang Satu pasti bisa menahan gejolak sepanjang masa. Ia akan hidup melewati gelombang pasang surut peradaban manusia, yang menurutku sebenarnya tak pantas disebut peradaban. Demikianlah bisikan itu terus ada. Tapi manusia-manusia bodoh yang tidak mengerti hanya mengutip kalimat-kalimat milik Sang Satu di sana-sini dengan congkak tanpa ingin menyadari makna. Kesombongan memang tak pernah punya makna, apalagi harga. Ia hanyalah selaput ari-ari pembelit yang suatu hari nanti akan luruh tak bersisa. Terkutuklah kalian yang buta dan melihat kesombongan sebagai jubah tak terkalahkan. Lagi-lagi harus kukatakan, manusia adalah makhluk bodoh, pelupa, munafik, sombong, dan …..

Ah. Cukup. Aku harus berhenti. Duniaku berbeda dengan dunia kalian – di sini kami tidak memaki. Kami hanya menyebar kasih, ke semua alam yang membentang luas, di mana dunia kalian hanyalah salah satunya; sebuah keniscayaan yang tak terbantahkan bila berada sedemikian dekat dengan Sang Satu, sumber segala. Bahkan bila tangan-tangan terentang yang bersiap menerimanya adalah tangan-tangan rakus yang menurut kami tak layak menerimanya. Tapi itulah Sang Satu yang tidak pernah pilih kasih. Tidak seperti manusia-manusia tak tahu diri yang menerimanya.

Zula dan aku berkawan. Dekat. Kalian mungkin heran di mana irisan antara titik hitam pembawa kematian dengan cahaya pembawa inspirasi. Keduanya tampak bertolak belakang dan tak ada benang penyatu. Tapi itulah indahnya Sang Satu. Dengan campuran adonan cinta, kuasa, dan rasa humor yang tak bisa dimengerti oleh semua, Sang Satu mempertemukan dua kutub berbeda di pijakan yang sama. Istilah kalian adalah ‘dua sisi mata uang’. Di situlah letak humornya.

Masih belum mengerti?

Saat menjalankan tugas, aku akan mengembuskan awan kematian sehingga kalian yang sudah habis masa akan diliputi oleh kegelapan. Tidak ada yang bisa menembus kegelapan itu kecuali cahaya dari hati kalian. Itu bila kalian punya.

Di sinilah Zula masuk ke panggung pertunjukan. Dalam gelap pekat yang mencekik dan tak tertahankan, Zula akan meniupkan gelembung-gelembung bening nan rapuh berisi refleksi hidup kalian dan memasukkannya ke dalam sel-sel otak di kepala kalian. Saat gelembung itu pecah, sesaat kalian akan merasakan sebuah mukjizat tiada tara. Tak bisa dilukiskan dengan kata-kata di bahasa apapun yang ada di dunia kalian, karena yang ada hanya rasa dalam wujud termurni. Sebuah rasa dari alam kami. Sebuah pencerahan yang menyilaukan dengan ledakan dahsyat, memancarkan rupa-rupa kisah hidup singkat kalian dengan beragam rupa emosinya – penyesalan, hasrat, duka, lara, cita – namun pada saat yang sama akan menggumpalkan semua emosi itu, menyisakan hanya diri kalian yang sebenarnya, yang bukan apa-apa. Dalam penyatuan antara ketiadaan dengan kehampaan itulah, kalian merasakan sebuah kenikmatan sejati menjadi manusia. Sebuah rengkuhan orgasme atas kekosongan – sebuah rasa tak berawal dan tak berujung.

Berita baiknya adalah, kalian semua berkesempatan merasakan saat-saat kesempurnaan itu. Berita buruknya adalah, dalam takaran kalian yang baru saja akan mengenal wajah keabadian dalam wujud terbaik dan terburuknya, rasa kesempurnaan nan nikmat itu berlangsung hanya sesaat.

Dan ketika kesempurnaan itu tercerabut…….yang ada hanya surga atau neraka — ini pun menurut bahasa kalian.

Bagi kalian yang belum pernah mencapai orgasme ini sebelumnya dalam keadaan utuh sebagai manusia, sebelum dimakan umur, digelendoti penyakit, serta digerogoti kerapuhan, kalian akan merasa bagai dihempas ke dalam jurang tak berdasar, di mana kepekatan demi kepekatan dengan udara yang semakin lama semakin membelit akan menyambut kalian. Hingga kalian menyentuh dasar kehampaan. Di mana kalian akan lebur dan menjadi tiada.

Namun, bagi kalian yang pernah mencapainya dalam keadaan utuh sebagai manusia, sebelum dimakan umur, digelendoti penyakit, serta digerogoti kerapuhan, kalian akan mencoba kembali pada ingatan lampau. Mencoba mengingat rona asmara pada saat indah orgasme kosong. Biasanya itu berhasil. Kalian akan terjun menuruni jurang ketiadaan dengan senyum simpul perawan muda dan pipi berwarna kemerahan seperti sedang didekati perjaka tampan dan diberkati para tetua. Udara menjadi merah muda. Ketiadaan itu sendiri juga menjadi merah muda. Merona. Belia. Tersipu. Sumringah. Hingga kalian menyentuh dasar kehampaan. Di mana kalian akan lebur dan menjadi tiada.

Kalian lihat? Di sinilah Sang Satu kembali menunjukkan selera humornya:

dua sisi mata uang yang berbeda,
merasakan mukjizat orgasme yang sama,
bereaksi secara berbeda,
untuk akhirnya tiba di titik yang sama,
dan hancur bersama-sama. 

Tidak ada lagi koin dengan dua sisi yang berbeda. Karena ketika sisi-sisi bersatu dan bersekutu, sebuah koin tak mungkin ada.

Mulai mengerti leluconNya? Setelah penciptaan dan penghancuran, yang ada hanya kelucuan. Dan pada saat itu, semua makhluk, termasuk kalian dan aku, sudah tak bisa tertawa.

Sebagaimana pemenang sejati yang tertawa paling akhir, yang tersisa sekarang hanyalah tawa Sang Satu. Seperti tawaNya ketika dulu memulai segala selain diriNya. Yang gemanya berlangsung sepanjang keabadian. Hingga Dia pun menelan keabadian, berikut tawaNya, yang tak lain hanyalah makhluk seperti kalian dan aku.

Dia pun kembali menjadi Sang Satu, sebagaimana sebelumnya, sebagaimana setelahnya, dan sebagaimana keadaan tanpa sebelum dan setelah.

Hanya sebagai ada.

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Imperfection vs Compassion

God does not create different kinds of paths because He is imperfect, nor because those He created are incomplete, but because He is compassionate. He creates human in many different ways, not even two are identical, because He is infinite and His creative power is unlimited. He, the compassionate, ensures that we, human, will find our own path back to Him, hence, He creates many paths that we can follow – our souls respond to paths that are meant for our souls.

The path we choose is the truth for us, but it does not exclude the existence of other truths beyond ours – our minds are limited, His is unlimited. Respecting other paths is not a denial of the truth of our path, nor is it a betrayal of our path, but it reflects our humility in front of His Greatness, that He is beyond our perception.

Claiming the truth for ourselves and bordering it according to our belief and perception is an act of vanity, for we try to shape Him instead of letting Him shapes us – we pretend to be God without knowing His will upon us.

When our hearts have finally been subdued to His Absolute Will and Love, we will not question the existence of other paths than ours, because we have seen His presence everywhere and have realized that there is not a single path which is not His path, for He is all.

Later, we will realize that the path we thought we have chosen is not actually our choice – again, it was an act of vanity because we did not understand, an innocent ignorance. He has chosen it for us, for He knows us very well and understands our need.

(Praise Allah, the all-compassionate, the most merciful – Jan 2012)

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The Rule is No Rule

I just found an interesting quote, it suddenly appeared at the side bar of my wordpress page:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
-W. Somerset Maugham-

Words of a genius! Make me feel a lot better after reading various novels and wondering afterwards on how people can create such amazing works. And whether there is any rule in creating one. 🙂

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The So-called Personal Obsession(s)

There are so many things that I have been obsessed with throughout my life. I sometime think of them as plain white rooms with doors, packed next to each other to form a big maze, like the one used in laboratory experiment. An innocent mouse wanders around the rooms trying to find an escape only to find later that the door leads to another almost-identical room.

I would really like to think myself as that mouse, a mere victim of circumstances that is not spared by life, but I am not that gullible. In my case, I’m guilty as charged because the rooms in my maze are my own creations, usually built with one purpose only, which is to distract me from the real activity that I should really be doing. This act of avoidance comes from either laziness, in which I prefer to slump on the couch and watch television forever, or cowardice in facing the unknown. So far, the later dominates and plays a major role in my creative process of inventing obsessions.

Once, I was obsessed with dancing. I took two private lessons per week that costed me a fortune, and went as far as sacrificing my lunch hour at work, plus another two extra hours each time to sneak out/in from/to the office and to catch up eating in front of my computer. After doing that for months and getting more and more tortured by the almost-silent whisper of my conscience, I finally admitted that I was just scared of the possibility of being confronted by my own thought about resigning from the job. At that time, the work load in the office was not the usual high and that could actually give me time to contemplate and think about the priority in my life. To that, my brain responded by transmitting pulses that made my body craved for dancing.

The other one that happened recently was my obsession with books. Whenever I saw online booktore ad, I would visit the store and it rarely resulted in empty shopping bag. Real bookstore was no less a culprit – the texture of those yellowish papers of hardcover novels and the feel of it at the tip of my fingers was just too much to resist. Of course, there is no harm in buying excessive books, except that my cash was tight and I already had books enough to keep me reading for a year. Still, I always found excuses to delay reading them and chosed to buy more.

Finally, after rearranging my books, I found out that I had unknowingly bought three titles twice, and only then did I start to think seriously. Or at least, pretended to, since deep down I have always known the problem all along. It was just a funny ‘co-incidence’ that this compulsive behavior started after I quited my job to concentrate on becoming a writer. It was even funnier that after I had all the times in the world, I did not have time to read, and most importantly, the root of all this, to write.

After I gathered all my remaining guts to admit my fear of facing this new and unknown world of writing, I suddenly lost interest in buying books and started to read whatever was in my bookshelf. I probably still need extra guts to actually gather myself to write, but at least I know that I’m going that way. After all, they say when a problem is acknowledged, ninety percent of it is solved, and I choose to believe it.

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Untitled

-Untitled-

In ignorance,
Love vaporizes
Replaced by specles of dust

In emptiness,
sweet turns to sour
And bitter cannot be distinguished
For it becomes the tongue

In silence,
Thirst is excruciating
More eternal than death

-jakarta, 02/12/11-

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The Magic of Words

Words are magical.

I was reading a letter that I had created for a friend a while ago when that realization just suddenly came to me. I was struck by the fact that there were so many words on the letter that I never imagined I could have written, words that do not seem to register in my head. Also, I had not expected to have certain impression when I re-read it again, but I did.

A single word obviously can speak for itself since in it contains the whole meaning and emotion. Having said that, a word is actually no different than symbol. The strength upon which a symbol imposes strictly depends on the message that life wants to deliver at the present moment. Thus, when we read a word, it may carry the burden similar to what was carried by a bleeding saint dragging a big and heavy cross on his shoulders, but on other circumstances the same word may just be as light as a flying dust from a long unworn pillow.

I used to think that the weight of a word was determined by the writer. But I believe now that I was wrong. Just like when an impression imposed by a word to a reader depends on what life intends to deliver at that moment, the same thing goes to the process of writing the word down.

The fact that a word is chosen and not the other is more the work of the universe than the author. The author is just a writer, not the real composer. The writer may come up with a framework of a story or article, but the process of filling it in depends more on the ability to open up oneself to receive inspiration, which is a manifestation of universal intellect. A writer is merely a transitory point with the single responsibility of jotting down what comes.

In that sense, the universe is an unspoken story that wants to be told. And words are created just for that. And when words are carrying that purpose, they are no longer a collection of alphabets but have transformed into beings. They are alive.

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