[Buku Baru] “Recalling the Memory”: Cita-cita, Musik dan Cinta di SMA

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Saya besar dengan membaca banyak buku remaja. Saya menjadi pembaca seperti sekarang karena buku-buku remaja yang saya baca. Buku-buku remaja itu memacu saya untuk lebih sering mengarang, berkhayal dan akhirnya menuliskan mimpi-mimpi saya.

Di masa-masa itulah, Sofia dan Romi lahir. Mereka adalah dua tokoh dalam benak saya yang saya bayangkan sebagai dua teman SMA saya. Teman yang sama-sama keras kepala, sama-sama naif, sama-sama jatuh cinta. Mereka hidup dalam flashdisk saya saat kelas 3 SMA, lalu hidup dalam email-email yang saya simpan, tanpa pernah diterbitkan.

Bertahun-tahun kemudian, seringkali saya merasa sedih ketika mendengar buku-buku remaja hanya dipandang sebelah mata. Buku yang ceritanya itu-itu saja, buku yang hanya ceritanya tentang cinta monyet.

Maka, ketika mendapat tawaran dari Bentang Pustaka untuk menulis cerita remaja di Wattpad, saya awalnya agak ragu. Saya belum pernah menulis cerita remaja utuh dalam bentuk novel, apalagi menuliskannya dua kali dalam seminggu di platform Wattpad yang dapat dibaca gratis.

Dan, mungkin inilah saatnya Sofia dan Romi bisa hadir bagi para pembaca.

Saya harap, kisah Sofia, Romi dan perjuangan mereka menjadi pemain piano seusai lulus SMA bisa menggerakkan banyak hati pembaca, tua ataupun muda, untuk mengejar cita-cita, dan selalu mencoba apapun terlebih dahulu.

“Recalling the Memory” sudah diterbitkan Bentang Belia oleh Bentang Pustaka, dan sudah ada di toko-toko buku di kotamu, juga toko-toko buku online. Selamat membaca! 🙂

 

I secretly play some songs from your public playlist on Spotify

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I remember once you said to me that you listen to all music genre. From the upbeat ones –the music that people labelled as EDM or Post-rock, to something sweet and timeless from Chet Baker.

I remember our conversation that day. I might sound too romantic here, but I really remember the mise-en-scène from where we stood that day. The lamppost, your car that you parked in front of that 7 Eleven, some angry boys at the bench with Coke in their hands and an empty carton of milk near the garbage can.

I stood beside you, held my bag, and you were beside me with your faded jeans.

We went for something distinct that day: a banana-flavored Pocky. But we did not find it at that convenience store. So, we went out from the convenience store, stood again under the lamp post in front of that place. We looked for that specific flavor of Pocky to another convenience store near the one we entered before. But, nope, we can’t find that flavor.

“How come it could be so hard to find that Pocky?” you said.

“Banana is not everyone’s favorite flavor.” I said.

So we walked to the next convenience store. We went in silence for a moment, when you suddenly asked me “Do you listen to Beck?”

“Yeah, I listen to Beck.”

“Do you like his album, “Sea Change”?”

“Which one was it?” I asked you, and secretly examined your puffy hair near your forehead. I imagined you haven’t cut your hair for a while, and how you wake up in the morning with hair like a rooster.

“The one that has ‘Lost Cause’ on the track list?”

“Oh, I remember it. The one with the colorful artwork, right?” I said. I always have problems with remembering the name of an album. For me, the most important thing is the musician and the tracks they composed.

“Yeah, that one. I really love that album. Happy to saw Beck won the Grammy last year for his new album.”

“Yeah me too. I listened to his new album. That set of tracks left me in awe.”

We went back to your car and played a playlist. I went to the left side of the car and I forgot right away that I was at your place. At your place, all drivers drive at the left side.

“Jet lag, much?” you joked on me. I laughed a little and went to the opposite, fastened my seatbelt. We drove for a while until you decided to put some music from your Spotify. Your car’s speakers played some unfamiliar indie songs, and I guess I will know who sings this song later.

“It’s too bad that there is no Spotify in Jakarta,” you said.

“Yeah, I used VPN for a while. As if I was listening from UK,” I said. You laughed at how my eyes rolled when I said ‘as if’.

“Who sings this song? Is it Ben Folds Five?” I pointed to the player and glared at you. I saw a little smile at the corner of your lips.

“It’s Ben Folds Five. ‘Songs for the Dumped’.”

“Ah, I never listen to this one before.”

“So, is it me that introduce this song to you?” you grinned and tried to balancing your car, to be on the right track.

“Kind of,” I said. I looked at the Spotify on your phone. You had a playlist named ‘Pots of Gold for the Broken Hearted Ones’.

“Search for your favorite songs from my playlist. I have no Wi-fi here, but you could skim some downloaded songs from the playlists,” you said.

I kept on scrolling and saw your other playlists’ names: Bad Zines for The Weekend, Grotesquely Sad Love Songs, Songs for Quest to The Future, and some other playlists. “You do have unique names for your playlists.”

“All of my friends are now happily married, busy with their kids and family vacations. I do have time to give names for my playlists. Right now, they are my babies.”

We laughed together. We knew exactly what were you trying to say back then. Life’s cheating on you, on us. We laughed at it all. We pretend that we are unbeatable human beings who just shrug our shoulders when our loved ones left us behind.

Thirty minutes after that, we found two packs of Banana flavored Pocky. We parked our car in front of the convenience store. We turned off the air conditioner and let some songs from “Songs for Quest to The Future” played religiously from the player.

We listened to the rest 25 songs from the playlist. The last song is “Gimme Little Sign” by Brenton Wood.

5 hours after that, I will be on my plane to go back to Jakarta. I was thinking of having one last meal at a Mexican restaurant downtown that you took me days ago. But we were there, at a parking lot, fulfilling your craving of Banana flavored Pocky.

You took me to the airport. We didn’t talk much after that. We just played more songs from your playlists and listened to all of them with your earphone.

Then we said goodbye. You kissed my forehead and waved goodbye.

You said that we will meet again. But, no. We never meet again after our farewell at the airport.

You just left me here, secretly listening to your public playlist on Spotify. I see the same playlists: Pots of Gold for the Broken Hearted Ones’, Bad Zines for The Weekend, Grotesquely Sad Love Songs, Songs for Quest to The Future.

I heard some bad news from you. On how life cheated on you, once again, not long after our talk at the parking lot with two packs of Banana flavored Pocky.

While I was secretly listening to your public playlists on Spotify, I wonder: is everything okay with you? How life betrays you recently? What new babies, or playlists that you have made recently?

From your playlists, I found the answer: that you expect for a future without me.

songs for the rainy season

Is it true that melancholia only comes from pop songs?

Nope, I guess.

Some non pop songs that I know bring stronger melancholic vibe than the pop songs.

Here are some pop and non pop songs that I recommend to you to listen when the rain pours.

Where is My Mind? by Pixies

With your feet on the air and your head on the ground…  When this song plays on my computer, I will remember the last scene of “Fight Club”. The drum beats, the burning city. My heart sinks from the indescribable feeling, contained of sadness and somewhat calmness.

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Avril 14th by Aphex Twin

If only this song has some lyrics, the song probably captures the loneliness of living in a big city, where everyone’s dreaming of their old dreams that might live within the skyscrapers and the metropolitan skyline. Sounds like Spike Jonze’s “Her”? Yup, this song has been featured in one of the movie’s scene.

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Oh, how I love this movie.

St. Patrick’s Day by John Mayer

This song is like the perfect tune to hide behind the blanket, with a cup of coffee while it’s raining outside. Looking at the wet window from a warm house, it is totally a song for rainy season.

Raindrops Plucking the Last Leaves from A Tree by Lullatone

Raindrops is one of the most amusing things we could see everywhere in this rainy season. This tune helps us to celebrate this beautiful thing.

I have created a playlist, consists of more song, handpicked for this rainy season. Happy listening, and let’s be friends on Spotify 🙂

 

 

Mia, Sebastian dan Kita Semua

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Photo: nytimes.com

Beberapa minggu lalu, saya ngebet banget nonton “La La Land”. Saya langsung WhatsApp dua teman saya yang pasti bisa diajak nonton pukul 18.30, dan cukup bisa dipaksa dengan kata-kata “ini filmnya bagus lho, beneran” (padahal saya belum nonton. Yha.)

Beberapa teman saya bahkan ke Singapura untuk menontonnya. Teman-teman saya yang lain lebih beruntung. Seorang teman yang pekerjaannya adalah professional idol group fan di Korea Selatan bahkan sudah menontonnya. Juga, kak Mia (iya, namanya pun mirip dengan karakter utama di film “La La Land” hehehe), seorang teman sekaligus pembaca pertama saya sudah menontonnya saat midnight screening, beberapa hari sebelum penayangan resmi.

Dibakar trailer, review teman dan lainnya, saya mencoba untuk tidak over dramatis perkara menonton “La La Land”. Rupanya saya salah. Film ini memang tepat untuk dijadikan persoalan jika belum menontonnya. Maka, ketika akhirnya penayangan pertama tiba di bioskop Jakarta, ditambah teman saya yang berhalangan di akhir pekan berkata “Ya sudah, nontonnya hari ini saja,”, jadilah kami bertiga nonton “La La Land”.

Singkat kata, ini film drama musikal komedi ini menceritakan tentang Mia (Emma Stone) dan Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Dua-duanya punya mimpi yang besar. Dua-duanya cukup keras kepala dan persistent mengenai mimpi mereka. Mia bercita-cita menjadi aktris, sementara Sebastian bercita-cita menjadi musisi jazz dan membuka klub jazz miliknya sendiri. It’s about the ups and downs, the sweetness and the bitterness of achieving the dream.

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Photo: twitter.com/lalaland

Dari paragraf ini, saya akan memulai dengan beberapa spoiler tentang La La Land. Warning, ya guys! Hehe.

Beberapa orang tidak terlalu menyukai film ini. Ada yang bilang, mereka lebih suka dengan film-film komedi musikal atau film drama Hollywood di era lama, seperti “Singin’ in the Rain” atau “Sunset Boulevard”. “La La Land” hanya terinspirasi dari beberapa film musikal lain seperti film musikal jazz asal Perancis, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” –yang memang diakui Chazelle sebagai inspirasinya dalam membuat cerita “La La Land”, dan mengemasnya menjadi lebih modern.

Namun, bagi saya (dan banyakkkkkkk orang di luar sana, hehehe), film ini segar dan menohok. Saya tidak menyalahkan orang-orang yang merasa sudah mencapai mimpi-mimpi mereka, sehingga mereka mungkin tidak merasa film ini menohok. Tapi saya merasa saya belum.

Saya merasa menemukan diri saya dalam karakter Mia yang diperankan sangat baik oleh my forever girl crush, Emma Stone. Saat Mia usai melakukan monolog yang ia produksi sendiri, beberapa orang di backstage mengatakan bahwa monolognya sangat jelek. Padahal Mia mencurahkan semuanya: menulisnya sendiri, mengetik email promosi untuk di-blast ke teman-teman dan kerabat lain agar ikut menonton monolognya itu, bahkan mundur dari pekerjaannya sebagai staff di coffeeshop.

Namun, hanya segelintir orang yang datang. Bahkan Seb tidak datang karena isu mimpinya sendiri.

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Photo: twitter.com/lalaland

Mengenai Seb, saya yakin banyak orang juga merasakan hal yang sama. Seb sangat persistent dengan jazz. Ia memuja-muja Hoagy Carmichael (listen to his songs, including Stardust, to know why), Miles Davis (thanks to Murakami who introduced me to Miles Davis from his works), mengoleksi vinyl, bahkan memainkannya berulang-ulang untuk bisa melatih jarinya memainkan lagu-lagu tersebut dengan presisi.

Namun, realita sering kali berbanding terbalik dengan idealisme. Ia harus memainkan lagu-lagu Natal berulang-ulang, dan harus dipecat ketika memainkan melodi yang bukan lagu Natal di restoran tempat ia bekerja (di mana ia bertemu dengan Mia yang seolah ‘tersihir’ dengan permainan hebat Seb, namun dilepeh karena emosi Seb yang berantakan setelah dipecat).

Musim semi berikutnya, ia menjadi pianis yang disewa sebuah band untuk memainkan “Take on Me” dari a-ha (salah satu lagu favorit saya, tapi Seb tidak memainkan genre ini) dalam sebuah pesta di Los Angeles –di mana ia akhirnya bertemu Mia kembali. Ia mengenakan jaket olahraga, padahal ia udah sangat live and breathe the jazz musician image sampai pakai kemeja ke manapun ia pergi. Lengkap dengan jas.

Ketika ia akhirnya jatuh cinta pada Mia, pada mimpinya, idealisme Seb mulai diuji. Ia menerima tawaran bermain sebagai anggota band tetap untuk band The Messengers, dengan warna jazz yang sudah bercampur banyak dengan pop dan musik lain. Demi Mia, Ia menerima tawaran tersebut agar punya pekerjaan tetap. Lagi-lagi, bukannya musik yang dimainkan tidak enak, tapi Seb tidak memainkan genre tersebut. Sehingga tidak ada perasaan dalam musiknya. Hanya ada alunan musik catchy dari tangan yang hebat.

Is it wrong to have idealism? Pertanyaan itu rasanya tak pernah ada jawaban yang betul-betul akurat. Sebagian orang yang punya idealisme tinggi, pada akhirnya mereka disegani dan mendapatkan apa yang mereka inginkan. Sisanya?  Beberapa orang yang terpaku dengan idealisme yang mereka punya seringkali dikecewakan karena “standar mereka ketinggian” –itu kata orang.

Itu juga yang pernah dilontarkan seorang teman kepada saya. Untuk tidak menetapkan standar yang tinggi, karena di dunia ini, tidak semua hal bisa seperti yang kita inginkan.

So you see why I like this movie?

Saya melihat diri saya dalam diri Mia dan diri Seb. Begitu juga dengan kak Mia –teman yang saya sebutkan sebelumnya. Dan teman-teman saya yang lain.

Saya, hampir setiap saat, merasa tidak percaya diri seperti Mia di backstage setelah monolog yang ia pertunjukkan selesai. Saya sering merasa ingin menyerah seperti saat Mia menolak untuk kembali ke Los Angeles walau sudah dijemput oleh Seb, karena ia merasa ia hanyalah perempuan yang bercita-cita menjadi aktris, namun tidak bisa dan tidak akan pernah menjadi aktris.

Di satu sisi, saya merasa seperti Seb. Saya tidak bisa menuliskan banyak cerita tentang ini, namun sering kali saya merasa punya idealisme-idealisme tersendiri yang tak selalu bisa saya wujudkan. Tidak mewujudkannya membuat saya sedih. Namun melihat idealisme saya belum diterima dengan baik oleh banyak orang juga membuat saya sedih.

Mia dan Sebastian pernah berada di titik rendah dalam hidup mereka: ketika mereka harus percaya diri dan mengalahkan segenap rasa takut –dan akhirnya ditolak, serta ketika mereka dituduh punya kepercayaan diri yang salah terhadap sesuatu dan harus mengikuti apa yang orang lain pikirkan –yang akhirnya malah membuat diri sengsara.

Kita semua pernah berada di titik seperti Mia dan Sebastian. Mungkin itulah alasan utama saya menyukai film ini (ya ngga juga sih, juga karena warna filmnya, tariannya, lagu-lagunya. Indah banget! Hehehe! Apalagi kalau mereka bersama –warnanya jadi ungu. Seolah energi perempuan yang adalah warna merah, bercampur dengan energi laki-laki yang sering disimbolkan dengan warna biru. Semacam simbol cinta gitu nggak sih? #cie #berusahasemiotika Plus: banyak banget referensi pop culture seru kayak Ingrid Bergman, film Casablanca, film Singin’ in The Rain  dan lainnya).

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“A Lovely Night”. Photo: indiewire.com

Di akhir film, sequence super indah sekaligus menyakitkan itu benar-benar wrap up yang sangat oke. Mengajarkan sekali lagi: The dreams we dare to take always come with a price tag.

Alias, kita nggak bisa dapat semua yang kita mau. Kita nggak bisa rakus.

Tidak bisa bersama-sama adalah harga yang dibayar Mia dan Sebastian untuk bisa menjadi aktris hebat dan memiliki jazz club sendiri.

Mungkin itulah pesan yang coba disampaikan. Jika ingin mencapai mimpi, buang rasa malu dan takut. Mungkin sekarang, itulah harga yang harus saya bayarkan. Tidak mudah, karena sejak dulu saya orang yang cukup aneh –sering banget merasa malu sendiri dan penakut.

Entah harga apa yang harus kita bayar, mungkin rasa lelah atau awkward, meninggalkan orang-orang yang membawa aura negatif bagi kita dan lainnya, apapun itu…

*sigh*

Apapun itu, jangan pernah menyerah ya (sekalian, ngomong ke diri sendiri juga). There will always be a way for us to achieve our dreams. Just like Mia and Sebastian. Go for something that you hold dearly, that you dream bravely.

P.S: Tulisan ini saya persembahkan untuk Mbak Mia Prasetya, yang tanggal 29 Januari nanti (besok lhoooo) akan menikah. Selamat ya, Mbak! Here’s my so-called “La La Land” review and personal thoughts crafted for you. Anggaplah ini kado kecil untuk pernikahan Mbak. Semoga bisa kasih kado lain yang lebih bagus HIHIHI.

 

 

 

This Is What Love Is

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Previously written for Thought Catalog, October 2016

1. Love is not always about a relationship between two people. It’s about you and your surroundings. It’s about you and how you value every single thing around you.

2. Love is the worry that appears at night, mostly caused by thinking about the people you care the most.

3. Love is the person you think when you listen to a favorite love song.

4. Love is that pause in your chest when the name of someone close to you appears on your phone screen.

5. Love is that disbelief on how someone that you love might not be the same person you thought he (or she) was, even when you know that everybody’s changing.

6. Love is believing that someone, despite every changes, will always get back to you.

7. Love is the sadness that strikes when you know that someone, with all the changes that happened to them, will never get back to you.

8. Love is who you think of when you look at the sun filtering between the leaves in the woods.

9. Love is the tears you had when you stare at a stranger’s picture, just because she looks just like your grandmother.

10. Love is that smile from a stranger you met across the station’s platform that reminds you of your uncle who passed away years ago.

11. Love is the process of remembering how people have done good things in their life.

12. Love is a piece of obituary you wrote when you have nothing but longing inside your heart.

13. Love is knowing that there is a person-sized hole inside you that will never be replaced by anyone, because every person marks a different shape in your heart.

14. Love is knowing that no matter what happens, there will always be moments when your ex crosses your mind.

15. Love is knowing that we can’t always turn back our heads to the past. Because there is a thing called future that waits for us.

16. Love is that sad news you see from today’s newspaper and you wish that you could do something with it.

17. Love is that delicate feeling inside your heart when you see your sibling’s happiness.

18. Love is the silence, and probably a little bit of sadness, that you had when you were at the museum, thinking of how these beautiful artifacts and memories inside boxes made of bulletproof glasses don’t invite many visitors.

19. Love is the forgiveness that comes from your heart’s deepest corner that you give to everyone who hurts you, and yourself.

20. Love is the point when you start to become hopeful again.

 

Perayaan yang Baru Dimulai

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Photo:  http://brittanickel.tumblr.com

Dalam novel “One Day”, tokoh Dexter menuliskan surat kepada Emma beberapa potong kata yang sulit saya lupakan: bahwa Emma takut untuk menjadi bahagia. Ia berkata bahwa definisi hidup bagi Emma adalah sesuatu yang sangat abu-abu, kelam dan kelabu.

Dalam banyak hal, saya merasa mirip dengan Emma Morley, tokoh dalam novel itu (kecuali bagian akhirnya. Bukan, bukan karena apa. Tapi saya sudah lama tidak naik sepeda, jadi ya, saya mungkin tidak akan naik sepeda selama beberapa tahun ke depan).

Saya sering kali menjadi makhluk paling pesimis di dunia. Entah karena usia saya menjelang dua puluh lima, atau karena saya seperti ini sejak dulu. Saya sering kali merasa gagal, dan diam-diam berkata “Tuh, kan. Gagal lagi.”dalam setiap hal: baik bekerja atau menulis.

Ketika ada kecaman atau kritik, terkadang diri saya yang pesimis itu muncul lagi. Ia sering kali muncul untuk merayakan diri saya yang kembali menjadi pribadi yang tidak saya suka: kelam dan kelabu. Mirip Sadness dalam film “Inside Out”.

Namun, bulan September kemarin, saya menulis suatu naskah dengan waktu yang cukup singkat: satu bulan. Juggling dengan pekerjaan kantor, meeting, godaan untuk nonton series dan menikmati waktu luang bersama teman-teman, saya akhirnya menyelesaikan novel tersebut.

Novel ini sudah selesai dan masih dalam proses pengolahan. Tetapi, dalam proses menuliskannya, saya menemukan diri saya yang dulu: diri saya yang menikmati proses menulis -menikmati sakit dan tawa yang ada, menikmati suka dan dukanya. Menulis novel tersebut membuat saya mengenali orang tua saya lebih dalam, mengetahui latar belakang sejarah mereka dan orang-orang di sekitar kami.

Saya seolah dicerahkan pada proses menulis bulan lalu itu, dan saya berjanji pada diri saya sendiri: walau saya bukan penulis full time, saya mau terus melakukannya dengan hati. Saya akan merayakan hidup dengan menulis.

Dan, perayaan ini baru saja dimulai.

Remembering John Hersey’s Writing About Hiroshima

47 years ago, on August 31st, The New Yorker has published an entire issue about Hiroshima, written by John Hersey. The article was so good, as Hersey used “novelistic devices to structure his reporting”.

This year, on the same date, The New Yorker takes us to know more about the writer, who “wanted to show their humanity in a way that people in this country could connect to -to convey the enormity of what had happened.”

Read a personal look about Hersey here: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/john-hersey-the-writer-who-let-hiroshima-speak-for-itself

View on Path

10 Lessons From ‘One Day’ That You Should Read On July 15th

One Day

If you read (or at least watched) One Day, you know exactly why July 15 is a special date.

July 15, 1988 is the day where the two main characters of the book, Emma and Dexter, first meet after their graduation.

David Nicholls, author of One Day, takes us along their journey –from their glory days as early twenties living in London, from 1988 to the next 20 years. We read on how they spend their July 15th together, and sometimes they spend it apart. We were taken through their ups and downs, how life happened for Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew.

I have changed my mobile phone several times. But, since I read the book in 2010, I never forget to put that special date on my calendar. From 1988 and every year that follows, we’ve grown to know them very well. We see them slightly changed to become better human beings – although along the way, at times did not successfully become the people they expected to be. On that day, I also asked myself with the same question Emma asked to herself: “Am I really making a difference? … Where do I want to be right now?”

We always love to look at the journey of someone, or in this case –two people, who also have the same worries and expectations in life like us. We feel that we are not alone when we read how Emma frequently looked down upon herself and unconfident to unleash her potentials. We feel this mutual excitement with Dexter as someone who seemed to enjoy his life to the fullest. But we also share his sadness as he feels his future did not turn out as good as he expected: “He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph.”

One Day is one of the many books that remind us the importance of paying more attention to things, because just like what is printed on the back of the book, “You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.”

So, for this July 15, aside to reposting a chain of my favorite quotes from the book and share it on my countless social media accounts, I will skim the book once again. I tried to sum up 10 lessons that I’ve learned (and hopefully always remember these lessons) from Emma and Dexter.

1. Personal handwritten letters are symbols of caring towards the recipients. I knew that in 1988, communication through smartphones or even emails are unthought-of. That’s why Emma and Dexter tried to keep in touch through handwritten letters. But, when we write our own letters for someone we care about, there is a certain energy that drives our hand to pour our heart out and write the truest things we know.

2. “’Just Kidding’ is exactly what people write when they meant every word.” I can’t think of a situation where “just kidding” turned out to be a real joke. People really love to sugarcoat the meanest things that come out from their mouth, and they add ‘just kidding’ because they think it sounds far more merciful.

3. When you write a very personal, beautifully handwritten letter, you better send it right away. Don’t wait. Or in this case, if you do have something true to say, you better say it right away. Because you might never have a chance to say it anymore.

4. If a lot of people believe in you, it means that you have potential. It’s not like everyone’s making a conspiracy, as if “people secretly ganging up to be nice about you.” It means you do have something special.

5. You’re not a consolation prize. Don’t do things for people who think you are “option number 20”. You are worth far more.

6. At the age of 24, yes, we all could feel a little bit lost. After graduation, we think that anything’s possible. We feel this endless energy to do something, to make a change. But at the age of 24, we are in the intersection of what we want to do and what we end up doing. It is alright, because “we’re all meant to be like that at twenty-four.”

7. We are probably “scared of being happy” because it is easier and we can “make a joke out of it.” Dexter was in India and end up writing the truest, unexpectedly beautiful letter that he (spoiler alert) failed to send. If only Emma had read this letter, he would’ve probably successfully made Emma gain the confidence she had lost after graduation.

8. It is possible to feel outgrown from your best friends. Things happen in our lives, and people change. But if the bond is real and deep, no matter how long it takes, true best friends always come together in the end.

9. “Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately fully and well. Experience new things.” We have certain expectations on how life should turn out, and mostly we forget that people might not expect us to do such things. We tend to focus on being the best, but we forget about the friends and family that care for us, for example. Pick your own battlefield, and get on with it. Don’t think about “have we successfully projected our expected version of us?”, because it is a never ending story.

10. There is a day in our lives where everything we hoped for so long, finally starts. Try to take a look back to the past, and remember “a day that you will always remember for the rest of your life?” Remember how that day made you who you are now. If you haven’t found that one day, don’t worry. You will have it in the future.

 

Previously published for Thought Catalog, 15 July 2016.

Why All Adults Should Read Children’s Books

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Photo: Laura D’Allesandro

 

Someone has told me that comics and children books are degenerating intellectuality. This person said it directly to my face with a mocking tone while I was reading Case Closed –a Japanese comic book that made me love crime series, thriller movies and detective stories. This person said that “comics are for kids”, and “reading children’s books and comic books will not bring any good.”

I was shocked at that time. I tried not to burst out in laughter. First, what this person said is totally unreasonable. Second, this person addressed comic books as children’s books. Third, as far as I know, comic books and children books have nothing to do with intellectual degeneration.

Just like this person, some people still assume that comics and children books (picture books or children’s novels) are mostly carrying out shallow subjects. We can’t blame them for having that kind of assumption. I somewhat agree that some of children’s books still put their focus on happy thoughts, sugars, butterflies, and everything nice and sweet –while the world out there is actually pretty bitter and full of choking surprises.

But I keep on reading children books because, just like what Dr. Louise Joy, a Cambridge University academic, as quoted in The Independent, it is a “symbolic retreat from the disappointment of reality.”

As an adult, I read children’s books to escape from the bitterness of modern life.

It is not essentially wrong. Dr. Louise Joy also stated that classic children books that we love, like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach “…offer a world where self-consciousness is overthrown and relationships are straightforward.” She also added that “relationships in the real adult world are often fraught by miscommunication and the impossibility of understanding one another properly.” She also said that it also applies to other favorite titles of modern children’s books.
I am not a researcher, but I believe that the escapism from the ‘real adult world’ also could be found from any books, including illustrated books for children or comic books.

Yes, children’s books are for entertainment purpose. Maybe, for the younger children, these books are made for them as some nice, soft cereals for children before they “chew” harder books. But, sometimes people forget how books that could change their perspective in life could come from anywhere.

When I was a kid, my father gave my sister and I some copies of Enid Blyton’s “The Famous Five” series. The adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog have given us a knowledge that after tiring homework and endless assignment, holidays will come and we will have other new adventures waiting for us, as long as we endure the school days well.

Another family’s friend gave us some copies of other favorite books written by Enid Blyton. One of them is “House At The Corner” . This is one of the book that makes me feel that “you could feel okay, as long as you write down your feelings into stories just like Lizzie, the bookish daughter of the family did”. The same person also let us read her copy of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” –the book that makes me feel that I could travel anywhere just by reading a book, and also to treat people nicely or I will end up like Miss Trunchbull from the book.

Children’s books, even when the books don’t tell magical stories and set in modern life, have given me a lot of valuable lessons.

Several months ago, I read a children’s book that becomes one of the most impressive books I’ve read. This book becomes one from a list of book titles that I engraved in my mind as: a book that has changed my perspective and made me face this life as an adult. The title of the book is “The Lion and The Bird”, written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc, a graphic designer and an illustrator. “The Lion and The Bird” was published by Enchanted Lion, who also published a lot engaging children’s books.

It tells a story about a lion who lives alone and becomes a farmer for living. On a day before the winter comes, the lion finds a wounded bird who failed to migrate with other birds. For the next days, the lion takes care for the bird’s wounds. They eat together, play together over the fields covered with snow. Basically they spend the whole winter together, side by side.

The bird can’t stay at the lion’s place forever. When the spring comes, it’s the time for the bird to fly away. When the lion says how well he knows about the bitter fact that the bird must leave, we could see the lion’s painful look. Beneath that painful look –the look of knowing that something that he cares dearly is about to leave him, the lion gives a hint of smile. The lion knows, as the book said, “…and so it goes. Sometimes life is like that.”

As a young twenty something, I can’t help but dealing with a lot of farewells. When I read that book, I remembered all the farewells I have seen in my life. Either it is a forever-kind-of-farewell, or see-you-soon-farewell, farewells make me suffocated. Farewells remind me with hope that was lost, love that was buried, and hearts that were broken.

In the book, the lion keeps on waiting and make himself busy, reading books, rowing at the lake, but he keeps on missing his little friend, the bird who goes migrate.

It’s like a reflection of my life right now, and I assume everyone’s life, that we are currently waiting for something that we have lost to come back to us in the future.

The lion is quite lucky that the bird is coming the next winter, just like when they first met. I know that somewhere in the future, all of things that I have yearned for a long time to come back will come back to me one day. In the meantime, I will face my life just like an adult, keep myself busy without losing my hopes.

For me, it’s amazing that there is a children’s book that could teach children how to deal with difficult, hard-to-face emotions, like loss and grief. Since I read the review about that book, I bought the book and searched for other children’s books that tell deep, difficult feelings that everyone –including children and adults, could face in everyday life.

I truly believe that the joy of reading could come from any books. There are some adults out there that may feel so exclusive about the books that they choose to read. Adults tend to forget that generalizations about books’ depths could actually lead them to a disservice towards the value of reading. How reading could improve our minds, affects how we deal with difficulties in life.

Back to the remarks from the friend that I mentioned earlier, I did not laugh in front of this person. It’s just not what adults do. I just keep on reading my comic book.

Previously published by Thought Catalog, 10 July 2016.