A handwritten note from the Atlantic

A handwritten note from the Atlantic

Summer, 2017

It was a summer of green plateau and turquoise ocean when I had my first, and possibly last, Acadian crush. He was a married man with a pair of the clearest blue-hazel eyes I’ve ever recognized in person, and dark curly hair with slightly golden tips hidden underneath a grey hat that made him look much younger than he actually was.

Luca Gauthier and I ventured into the Acadian, boreal, and taiga forests of Cape Breton Highland that morning of July 13rd. He brought an apple in his blue backpack, and a tiny container of almond, ham sandwich, and celery sticks that his wife prepared for him earlier that day. “How are you?” He asked me. “Great, can’t be more thrilled,” I said. “It’s my first time in the region and I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months!”

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Memory from a drizzly afternoon spring

Memory from a drizzly afternoon spring

Edmonton, Spring 2018

There is something quite liberating about chilling on the balcony of your third-floor apartment in a rainy afternoon, under the huge, shady trees, just letting the rain shower your bare skins as you embrace the spring breeze. For a moment, forgetting about those unsettling emotions and unfinished chores. Breathe, let loose. Smell the dry earth. Sing a farewell ode to snows.

I think the majority of us often forgets to appreciate the small details that make life hurt slightly less, and enlighten the world slightly more.

A Decade Rewind

A Decade Rewind

Hi, there.

It’s been quite a hiatus, isn’t it? A year and a half of not being present here, where a lot had happened. Too much, almost.

With the year of 2019 – and basically, the whole decade – is coming to an end, I thought I could maybe write something just so that the blog does not skip a year. Plus, isn’t it basically the most perfect timing? A piece to recap what had been said and done or left otherwise, not only for the past 1.5 years, but also perhaps the whole decade altogether. Crowds on Twitter and Instagram have been doing it anyways, so I guess I might as well jump on the bandwagon.

And so here goes.

My search began on Facebook, so I definitely went a little too extra as usual. Google Photos and gazillion pictures from my external hard drive also brought back endless streams of memories. Spent several hours rambling through those photos, trying to salvage pictures that define each year, or at least resembling it. And it’s amazing how I could still remember much, if not most, of the feelings that I got from those events that were passing by.

Like the lightweight, neutral, and completely undisturbed feelings when celebrating one of my high school classmates’ birthday in a pizza place one afternoon, even though it was gloomy outside;

or the excitement when having a sleepover with my college girls, gossiping about the threads on the Secret app back when it was still the bomb (and available);

or the burdened, heavy mood when I woke up a bit too late sometime in November 2017, realizing that I still had one more year left to pull through before I could come back home.

What a decade it has been, with all those emotions, events, actions, faces, stories, memories, episodes.. And I have nothing but gratitude indeed.

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Drawing a line between ‘life accomplishments’ and ‘things we write on our rรฉsumรฉs’

Drawing a line between ‘life accomplishments’ and ‘things we write on our rรฉsumรฉs’

With the progressing development that advances the way society thinks about and perceives one’s success, it really is impossible to not include “having a secure job, promising career, and a happy, wealthy family” into our own definition of success. Particularly for those who, throughout their lives, have been lucky enough to be exposed in privileged environments that praise high levels of education and surrounded by well-educated people who seem to be really driven in making the world a better place.

Which is a great thing, I believe. It provides all the motivation to really build the world into a better space for all living creatures to live in. Either by competing with one another to achieve more goals, or by gathering with similar-minded people to brainstorm together to reach such purposes. Nothing seems to be wrong up to here.

But then, it can get dangerous as well. Particularly in the era where mental health-triggered problems have been regularly appearing on the headlines, and where we could easily keep track of other people’s “achievements” that they openly share across social media. The danger is not about how we can handle the potential jealousy and envy that might arise, but rather, how we can handle looking at ourselves after those images that those other people create have been influencing our perspectives.

The danger is the change in how we value ourselves, and how we can perceive our “actual” accomplishments as to not be confused with “curated” accomplishments that we might display on our resumes. The danger is when we tend to begin to think that our lives are only worth remembering when we have done and got enough to showcase on our LinkedIn page, for instance.

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Maybe I’d rather become a minority

Maybe I’d rather become a minority

A friend was once telling me about an Indonesian Muslim family that she knew back when she was still residing in a western country. The Mom is both religiously very devoted and yet open-minded at the same time, and she managed to raise her very young kids to be sharing similar traits. These kids pray, fast, and do all the obligatory deeds even though they were the only kids doing that in their school. At that time, I was wondering, ‘What she did was such a job. Was it not difficult to raise that kind of family in a country where Muslims are minorities?’

On the other hand, the family is not the strict type of saints as well. Exactly the type of spiritually obedient, yet nonjudgmental, ‘lakum deenukum wa liya deen’-sort of people.

Then a couple years pass, and I lived a life of being a Muslim in Edmonton. I grew from getting used to justifying salah jama’ in the first months, to trying to perform salah in their actual hours (still trying to get better!). From being okay with hanging out with friends while them getting drunk and me staying sane, to realizing that I was not comfortable and I’d rather find another circle that I could fit better. From never bothering to go to the university’s mosque, to trying to go their occasional events and performing congregational prayers there as much as I could do. All because of something I developed with each moment spent becoming the only person who does these among my friends.

I realized what makes me (and that teeny, tiny amount of everyone else who was doing the things that I also did)… unique.

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Tentang perjalanan spiritual

Tentang perjalanan spiritual

(18:103) Say, (O Muhammad): “Shall We tell you who will be the greatest losers in respect of their works? (18:104) It will be those whose effort went astray in the life of the world and who believe nevertheless that they are doing good.

Berhubung udah lama gak posting dalam bahasa ibu sendiri, jadi kali ini saya mau coba ya bercerita pakai Bahasa Indonesia. Selain itu juga karena mungkin kontennya akan lebih relevan buat Indonesian readers sih, hehe. (Sebetulnya bakalan banyak bilingual mode-nya deng karena kagok cuy kalo every single word diterjemahin verbatim. Monmaap in advance yak.)

Tulisan ini diketik pukul 6:39 AM. Ceritanya saya baru aja balik dari itikaf pertama selama di Kanada sini. Ini Ramadan kedua saya disini sih, cuman tahun lalu ada aja deh tantangannya buat meniatkan diri untuk itikaf. Jangankan itikaf, sejujurnya Ramadan taun lalu aja gak begitu berasa ibadahnya buat saya. Jujur, cuman ibadah default kayak hari biasa (shalat 5 waktu, itu juga kadang–atau sering?–pake mepet-mepet batas jam, ngaji juga boro-boro ngejar khatam) ditambah puasa dan bayar zakat fitrah. Udah. Tapi tahun ini, terutama setelah melewati bulan-bulan setelah Ramadan 2017 tersebut berlalu, alhamdulillah saya merasa ada peningkatan sih. Tapi, merasa sedih banget sebetulnya.

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