Sunday, 2 February 2020

On Accepting Loneliness

Can you spot the spider's web?

Sometimes I walk into the woods with a mind full of noisy thoughts. Each step I take amplifies the thoughts even louder. But then, the nature has its own way to soothe my troubled mind. The quietude of tall trees and wet grasses, the voice of wind and leaves, the friction of my shoes onto the ground, and the drizzle of rain on my panting face. They have molded my mind’s inclination no books have ever taught me. As I carry my 60-liter backpack, the burden on my shoulder dwindles into the wilderness.

Being alone with my own thoughts is significantly different with when I am alone with books, reading. When I am absorbed into a book, I am dived into someone’s thoughts and being directed to and by their way of thinking. Admitted or not, it influences me either consciously or subconsciously. However, when I am alone with my thoughts, I feel like giving so much free space and power to my mind to direct themselves to stumble upon anything they find interesting or dull. The feeling is similar to writing on my journal that helps me greatly reflect through my own writing.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Belajar Konservasi di Masigit Kareumbi

Pagi di Masigit Kareumbi 

Menjelang pengujung 2019 lalu saya berkesempatan mengikuti kegiatan Wali Pohon Masigit Kareumbi di Taman Buru Masigit Kareumbi. Diawali keinginan saya untuk menanam tanaman pohon (berkayu) di halaman rumah, namun terkendala lahan terbatas yang hanya bisa ditanami tanaman hias di pot, membuat saya harus mengugurkan keinginan saya. Pohon memiliki banyak fungsi vital dalam kehidupan, seperti fungsi orologis, hidrologis, dan sekuestrasi karbon. Bagi saya menanam tanaman adalah manifestasi kesadaran diri untuk menahan laju pemanasan global secara mikro, selain juga mengurangi jejak karbon.

Berbekal internet dan waktu luang, saya menelusuri bagaimana caranya menanam pohon di lahan publik. Keinginan saya kembali merekah saat saya menemukan program wali pohon yang diadakan di Taman Buru Masigit Kareumbi (TBMK). Setelah sedikit mendalami tentang wali pohon, ternyata program ini sudah dikenal lama di beberapa negara seperti Amerika Serikat, Kenya, Brazil, dan Australia, dengan istilah tree adoption program. Programnya sederhana: kita mengadopsi sejumlah pohon dengan membayar sejumlah uang untuk memeliharanya di satu kawasan yang sudah ditentukan.

Tentu saja saya langsung mendaftar. Beruntungnya, program wali pohon di TBMK ini berkelindan dengan kegiatan Sekolah Kader Konservasi yang diselenggarakan WANADRI dan Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan di akhir 2019. Selain bisa jadi wali pohon, saya juga berkesempatan ikut sekolah kader konservasi.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Lelarian di Manglayang

Berpose di Manglayang 

Sabtu pagi di pengujung Oktober saya paksakan mata saya terus melek setelah menunaikan salat subuh. Dengan setengah sadar saya bersiap-siap mengenakan sepatu dan pakaian olahraga. Rencananya saya dan beberapa kawan-kawan akan lelarian di gunung alias trail run. Sebetulnya agenda lelarian Sabtu itu untuk menemani teman-teman lari yang mengikuti BTS trail run di kompleks Gunung Bromo dan Semeru. Beberapa teman saya ada yang ikut 30 km, 70 km, 102 km, bahkan 170 km. Saya sih tidak ikutan even tersebut. Belum kuat dan belum ada niat. Karena Sabtu itu adalah terakhir mereka latihan, saya sengaja ikut menjadi tim penggembira. Rute latihan yang dipilih adalah Gunung Manglayang. Selain karena dekat dan mudah diakses, Manglayang terkenal dengan trek yang menantang untuk latihan elevasi.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Vomiting Memories

Golden Trumpet (Allamanda cathartica) at my grandma's graveyard, 16 November 2019.

For someone who grew up having not so many close friends, books have transformed into my companions since I was a kid. When I was at fourth grade, I first read Si Jamin dan Si Johan by Merari Siregar at day and night. Between pages I often stopped reading and went to bathroom to cry. It was not that my parents forbade me to cry out loud but I was actually having hard time explaining the reason why I cried over a very sad story. I honestly didn’t know why but the story of two innocent kids intertwined in the most miserable destiny of a dysfunctional family haunted me to the core of my soul and it was easily pouring my tears down.

That moment engraved a deep sense of self-indulgence within me to notice any emotion spiking in myself and people around me. And the more I read, the more I feel resonating with people. It seems like when I read a book, I am diving deeply into someone’s thought or wandering to the corner of their mind. Some other days reading a book feels like listening to a friend sharing their personal story with me. Perhaps it is the most quintessential element of a book, i.e., a multitude of thoughts, feelings, emotions, truths, knowledge, perceptions, facts, stories, fantasies, and memories of someone and of other worlds. When I find a book reverberating with some fragments in my life, my body and mind couldn’t resist responding to it, either liking it or loathing it. Like most things in life that retaliate a moment with a memory, a book has adeptness to strengthen or even amplify the sadness or contentment which lies dormant within self.

For example, when I read Animal Dreams, a novel by Barbara Kingsolver, I was taken to a mesmerizing characterization of a collection of damaged characters. One of which is through Codi who says, “Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to the truth but not its twin.” I was compelled to examine my own perception towards the reality in front of me. And we know better that a memory sometimes can be friendly, sometimes can be vile. Let's take another look at The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers that messed me up emotionally pretty bad, "The heart is a lonely hunter with only one desire! To find some lasting comfort in the arms of anothers fire..., driven by a desperate hunger to the arms of neon light, the heart is a lonely hunter when there's no sign of love in sight."

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Aloneness in Ad Astra

How do you learn to cope with your aloneness? 
How do you enjoy your aloneness without turning it into a great sense of loneliness?

Last Saturday I pampered myself with a movie and popcorn. I went to watch Ad Astra (2019) starring Brad Pitt. To contain any overwhelming curiosity, I skipped finding out what was the movie all about. I didn’t peek ahead the synopsis or even the trailer. The only thing that I knew was its title as a literal definition of to the stars. I was simply enchanted by its title and sure that it was going to be a space-themed movie.

For the first thirty minutes the movie was flowing so slowly even though it was opened with a sudden accident in the space. It wasn’t escalating as rapid as I expected, so I thought I was gonna sleep on it. However, when the main character was obliged to save the earth by terminating a spaceship involved on so-called Lima Project and its entirety, I nearly thought the movie was The Armageddon-type movie. Then I was led to another angle to almost believe the movie was about space exploration looking for extraterrestrial life such as Prometheus (2012) or miraculous journey of space oddity such Interstellar (2014). As the plot progressed and the characterization deepened, I was finally convinced that this movie was about neither of what I previously thought. It didn’t follow prior trend of its predecessors and my drowsiness was canceled and I felt intrigued to keep on watching.

Normally space-themed movies elaborate on how humanity stands up against space conquerors, survival on the terror and horror of grotesque aliens, or a fellowship with benevolent extraterrestrial entity.  Conversely Ad Astra serves a basic yet quintessential question in the entire universe:

Are we alone in this universe?

The answer to question above is as simple as either ‘yes, we are alone’ or ‘no, we are not’. Hence, the space exploration. Albeit the simplicity of the possible answer, the movie tries to dive deep on how we answer the question. This movie wasn’t focusing either on the unpredictable menace of alien attacks or merely spoiling eyes with scintillating beauty of the space. It rather mustered its energy on the narration of the story through first person point of view: how a highly trained and reliably calm astronaut could never escape his own memories. The slow pace and its narration clandestinely exacerbated the feeling of unknown that somehow was packed and jostled into something eerily suffocating. The story had successfully made me feel mildly sad with a pinch of piquantness through a contemplation that emotions repressed to appear calm in any sudden calamity will eventually trickle out.

Ad Astra doesn’t follow formulaic success that promotes space resilience and survivability displayed on other movies (Let’s take The Martian for an instance, it is a good movie, albeit predictable), but to survive the mere aloneness inside our mind that can put life in danger. For the complete synopsis and review, you can check Rotten Tomatoes. Here is my two cents on Aloneness in Ad Astra.