What Suffering Teaches Me

If I have to describe myself in just one simple, meaningful sentence, I’ll say, “I’m a person that has been broken”.

Because that’s just who I am. 

People always expect you to do more than what you think you’ve had enough. In this first steps to the real world, that becomes more obvious. Something’s always missing. There’s always a crack that you try so hard to cover up, but that will always be found out. You want to be seen as flawlessly unbroken, but in this already messed up world, who doesn’t have issues?

I was once a totally innocent kid, like anybody did. I started playing in the neighborhood, started going to schools and socialized with a lot of people, and I began to see things differently. In my eyes, I saw destruction. I saw imperfections. I saw the faded beauty of the world I once saw as totally unblemished.

I was, in one way or another, broken.

The cracks began to add up as I was broken to the inner part of myself. The only part I knew would be too fragile to be released to this merciless reality. So I let it go, and it was broken, bashed, bruised, injured, damaged, in any way I would never have forgiven myself with.

But what I didn’t realize was that I truly needed myself to be broken.

Life, they say, is like a battlefield. Of course there would be bruises. Of course there would be pain that you cannot just simply tarnish. But experience counts. The more you understand your battlefields, the more you are able to devise excellent strategy.

The experience of suffering is really what makes my iron-fenced heart works.

I cursed my teenage years for being manipulated by hollow dreams I trapped myself in. For waiting for someone for years, without having the guts to do anything except lamenting over the sad facts that the head would never turn to the direction I was facing. I moved on to another journeys, was broken by menacingly cruel people who just would not understand what I was giving them. Even until my early adulthood years, when it comes to love, I still feel like a lost soul whose search for her half go in a cycle of treachery.

But the sufferings I went through, the people I was romantically involved with, the miscalculations that made me question my ability as an engineer, the forlorn tales which endings were determined to be tragic from the very first beginnings………….. all of them teaches me to stand up and know myself better.

Looking back at my years of loving and being loved, I realized that they had made me much stronger. Strong enough to understand that things don’t always go the way I want them to go. Strong enough to put rationality ahead of any illogical fallacy. And if loving someone completely requires you to love yourself completely too, I can proudly say out loud that I am now ready. I’ve known my self worth and how much portion of my heart I will allow someone other than me to have. I’ll still open myself up for any possibilities, but the hopes will not be as high, the fantasies will not be as wild, the expectations will not be as heavenly as before. The days of cotton candies have been over, and now I focus on optimization, life-long goals, diminished lust and having control over various variables. I know the dreamer in me will always go vividly romantic, but the slaps out to the reality makes disturbance even more possible to be minimized.

The experience of suffering is what really makes me who I am now.

I’ve always wanted to be a high achiever. It was a default chip that was implanted long before I was born. But if anyone sees me now and comment on how lucky I am, I can humbly say that they have the wrong idea. Things I’ve gone through, all the trophies and certificates and titles of ‘champion’ are the things I earn. Things I earned with literally bloodsweat and tears. And if anybody asks, how can I do that? How can I do that? How else can I do that?

Because I know how it feels to suffer from failures. Because I know how it feels to be broken, to be torn up from the inside, to be told that you were not capable enough, to be accused for being weak, to be compared with someone you love to the bone; to be told that your best — the best version of yourself that you created so delicately hard — was not good enough.

When you’ve suffered through your lowest points, you can always keep your head on the ground when your heart goes to the cloud.

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I make this writing in one of my life’s lowest points. Where I barely know where I should go. Where my biggest fear comes true – to be unable to know what I want. Where I can’t see the big picture. Where my days of being a strategic planner seems to have no concern.

But I make this writing in the hope that I will remember the struggles I’ve gone through. The worst sufferings of my life that I have survived. This writing is intended to tame my ego down and to understand that I am still, and will always be, on my way to an eternal fixation of myself. Because happiness, by any means, is something that always needs to be chased. As Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love states, I have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of my own blessings.

This is my battlefield. Knowing the worst should make me able to cope with changes of plans. This is the thrill of living, where unprecedented results may occur. And I should always be prepared.

Everything in this world are made for a purpose and should just makes sense. And only when you’ve been in the dark can you truly appreciate how grateful you should be to be able to see the light.

Mungkin aku memang sudah terbiasa diberi kebahagiaan dari harapan palsu. Walaupun sedetik, setitik, dan sedikit, tapi cukup membuatku berpikir bahwa hidup tidak selalu berat, susah, atau jahat. Walaupun kemudian semuanya hancur dan pergi. Walaupun kemudian aku sendiri lagi.

MFR. Di malam takbiran Idul Adha.

Things To Miss From Japan

This September, I had a fortunate chance to go to Japan, attended International Student Seminar 2013 in Toyohashi, Aichi. This program is a joint collaboration between Toyohashi University of Technology, ITB (Indonesia), UTM (Malaysia), and HCMUT (Vietnam). ITB sent its top 6 of Best Students competition this year (yay I LOVE all-expenses-paid trip!). And believe me, these travel mates of mine were supposed to be saints, but we eventually went a little bit too crazy 😛

The program itself was a comprehensive one. We learned about high-tech research especially in the field of robotics and electrical engineering (DNA sequencing included), discussed about role of engineers in solving environmental problems in multidisciplinary groups, had 3-days 2-nights home stay with real Japanese families, and were introduced to Japanese cultures (ghosts and spirits!) and language.

TERAPIO, the doctor’s assistant!

Coming back to Indonesia, there are A LOT of things that make me miss Japan. Being a fresh graduate who’s waiting for graduation day and sorting stuffs about the future (yaya pengangguran banyak acara), I can’t help but missing the days when my mates and I walked TWO-FREAKING-HOURS along the midnight streets of Tokyo because we missed the last bus back to our hostel, days in Toyohashi when the multi-nation girls talked about Japanese boys, the discussion, presentation, tea ceremony, host family………….okay I could go on a very long list here, but you get the idea.

So here’s to cheering for the good days spent with (now) life-long friends, in between constant rant and occasional desperation about the upcoming Comprehensive Examination (ahem). Here are some of the things I DO miss from Japan:

1. Food

You may think that there’re already a lot of Japanese restaurants everywhere. BUT MAN, IT’S EATING JAPANESE FOOD IN JAPAN, do I need to say more?? Hahaha 😀

a. Sushi

Sushi. I’m a BIG FAN of sushi. I’ve eaten REAL SUSHI, in JAPAN. I can now die happily, XOXO :*

I even made my own sushi for dinner in my first night of home stay, thanks to the Kawaguchi family! Tho I didn’t have sufficient skill at all, surely the 5-years-old Risa-chan could use sushi roller better than me, HAHA 😀

I also went to Sushi restaurant with my host family. I LOVED LOVED IT. Seeing the sushi rolling through the rail, and orders being delivered with Shinkansen that Kaito really liked.

Me and Ta-chan at Kappa Sushi.

b. Udon

Went to Udon restaurant with guys from TUT. I love Udon. The restaurant was clean and machines were everywhere (typical Japanese – in Indonesia we have abundant working force and labors). Udon is thick noodle served with choices of Tempura. Mine was tori (chicken).

20130904_195421 - Copy
Udon – totemo oishii desu!

c. Soba

Cold Soba at Yamaha cafeteria

Soba is thin buckwheat noodle. It’s usually cold and eaten during summer, but they also have the hot version for winter. I didn’t try this one at Yamaha cafeteria because it had alcohol in its ingredients. By the time we went to Tokyo, I tried the hot version at a local restaurant. Do I like Soba or Udon more? It’s a tie for me 😀

d. Kishimen

Kishimen in Nagoya Castle

Kishimen is a special noodle from Nagoya. It’s cold and looks like the family of fettuccine 😛 It tasted reaally goo-oo-d, especially because I ate it in Nagoya Castle, so there was really a “Nagoya feel” in it. It was the first time for me eating cold noodle, and I surprisingly liked it!

e. Okonomiyaki

I can tell you that my host fam’s the best. Why? Because even though it was hard to find, they granted my wish to make-and-eat okonomiyaki! 😀 I know it’s everywhere in Bandung, but as I said, eating Japanese food in Japan is like eating Nasi Timbel in Indonesia – you always fall in love with the original version.

That absolutely looks good, Sir!
That absolutely looks good, Sir!

The sellers were very kind Japanese man and woman. I love Japanese people, especially their attitude towards strangers like me. They gave Risa-chan a lot of cizu (cheese) in her okonomiyaki, too, which made her happy 😀

e. Green Tea Kit-Kat

YAYA LAUGH ALL YOU WANT :p The Japanese guys were really fond of teasing me about Kit-Kat Green Tea. But hey, it’s not just Kit-Kat! In Indonesia we only have the boring choice of plain chocolate and vanilla. In Japan, Kit-Kat is like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans in Harry Potter. There’s even Wasabi flavor in Narita Airport. I bought Pumpkin Pudding also, that tasted like… ubi jalar.

Kanamoto laughed REALLY HARD when I showed him this. He thought it was uncommon to like Kitto Katto that much, haha!
Kanamoto laughed REALLY HARD when I showed him this. He thought it was uncommon to like Kitto Katto that much, haha!

f. Other Food

Oh I can go on and on about how I love Japanese food. For example, here’s the breakfast that my host mother makes on the day we went to Toyokawa:

Inari Sushi. It's 1.2 US$ per 2 pieces in sushi street stall near my campus. And I can eat it as much as I want here. I'M BLESSED xD
Inari Sushi. It’s US$ 1.2 per 2 pieces in sushi street stall near my campus. And I can eat it as much as I want here. I’M BLESSED xD

and miso soup. I LOVE MISO SOUP. I even went on a last-minute shopping of instant miso seasoning in Narita Airport before leaving for Indonesia. Oh! And the cafeteria menu in TUT!! They have Halal Food served daily, how considerate! Six of us (the Indonesians) agree that this is the best menu-set:

_D
Fish fillet or croquette or both, I don’t know. The heavenly potato sauce (the white one), seasoned-just-damn-right-spaghetti, good-good-good surimi wrap, miso soup, rice, ocha.

2. Drinks

I’m talking about ocha (green tea) here and its variations. Japanese love green tea. I love green tea. That means I’m Japanese- well no, haha! 😀 My friend, Shabrina, doesn’t really like it. She said it’s kind of plain. It’s not plain, tho, but isn’t sweet either. We Indonesians love sweet tea, by the way. People from Yogyakarta often like it very sweet.

The best green tea for me was in Futagawa-juku Honjin Museum, where Aki-san kindly offered if I wanted to experience tea ceremony. The tea-drinking was started by eating a kind of special mochi, which tasted really good.

Special Mochi!!
Special Mochi!!
Hands on: the BEST green tea I've ever tasted
Hands on: the BEST green tea I’ve ever tasted

We also had tea ceremony in TUT, performed by guys from TUT Tea Ceremony Club.

Tea ceremony utensils
Tea ceremony utensils

This is also one of the best things I miss from Japan: green tea ice cream. WHY IS GREEN TEA ICE CREAM SO CHEAP IN JAPAN HUHUHUHU. In Indonesia you have to pay for like, US$ 3 for a TINY scoop of it.

The 98 Yen green tea ice cream that I really liked. It's heartbreaking to see how cheap this ice cream is in Japan - and how many liters you get! In Indonesia it's like....ouch.
The 98 Yen green tea ice cream that I really liked. It’s heartbreaking to see how cheap this ice cream is in Japan – and how many litres you get! In Indonesia it’s like….ouch.

Oh and there’s also a massive amount of vending machines everywhere in Japan!! You just have to insert some coins (100-200 Yen) and voila, you have a bottle of drink! It’s also quite handy to have small changes if you only have like, 1 paper of 5000 Yen for example.

Besides drinks, they sell magazines and cigarettes also in this kind of machines.
Besides drinks, they sell magazines and cigarettes also in this kind of machines.

3. Temples, Shrines, and Castles

Now that my stomach’s full, let’s explore these beautiful buildings. I’m a traditionalist at heart, so when it comes to visiting other countries, I always want to know about their cultures, traditions, and local habits. The Japanese preserve their cultures very well, and their devotion to Temples and Shrines shows how much they respect them.

a. Nagoya Castle

This is the Castle that I’ve seen in postcards, paintings, and large Japanese map that my twin brother brought back then after his exchange in Gunma. And yes, it’s magnificent in all sorts of ways.

Me and my very kind-and-generous host family in front of Nagoya Castle
Me and my very kind-and-generous host family in front of Nagoya Castle

The Castle’s actually been modified. Inside, there’s elevator and air conditioner. In each floors, there’s a diorama on the history of the castle (traced back to Tokugawa era), and observation deck on the 7th floor. We had a nice, energetic, funny old man as our volunteer tour guide. I respect him very much, since it’s uncommon in Indonesia to find volunteers in historical/touristy sites, and especially not someone as old as him who could also speak English. He might look old, but he was young at heart! I forgot to take picture of him, but thank you so much, mister!! God bless you! 😀

b. Osu Kannon Temple

This is also in Nagoya. Osu Kannon is a Buddhist Temple, and it was originally not built in Nagoya. Tokugawa Ieyasu decided to move the temple to Nagoya, where it now stands at the center of the town (correct me if I’m wrong).

Osu Kannon Temple, Nagoya. Pic was taken by Aki-san
Osu Kannon Temple, Nagoya. Pic was taken by Aki-san

Osu Kannon area is also famous for its shopping street. You can even find 100 Yen yukata sold in one of the stores. I wanted to buy a nice yukata set (around 600-1500 Yen), but I realized that I didn’t have enough space in my luggage. Do visit this area if you want to buy anything (souvenirs, etc.), even Turkish ice cream 😀

c. Inari Shrine

Shrines are for Shinto(s). Temples are for Buddhist(s). Well that’s the general rule, but Japanese go to both of these places. Inari Shrine is the biggest shrine near Toyohashi, the city where most of my activities took place. It’s located in Toyokawa. This shrine is guarded by fox, that’s why fox statues are everywhere.

Torii (gate) of Inari Shrine
Torii (gate) of Inari Shrine

Inari Shrine is one of my most favorite places in Japan. I don’t know why, but the serenity of this shrine moves me. Hearing the birds chirped while looking at the never ending shades of trees is just……………a bliss.

Thousands of fox statue.
Thousands of fox statues

d. Yoshida Castle

This is the castle that’s located in Toyohashi. I didn’t visit this but I managed to snap a picture while Mitsu-san was driving on the highway.

Looks good, eh? Say thanks to my phone camera :P
Looks good, eh? Thanks to my phone camera 😛

e. Senso-ji Temple

Of course. Might as well be said the most famous temple for tourists. I visited this at the last day, where the Indonesians went to Tokyo by ourselves.

Dre-ee-am comes true, they do~
Dre-ee-am comes true, they do~

4. Parks, Gardens, and Sunset

We rarely find good parks or gardens in Indonesia. All the messy street sellers and homeless people overshadowing the beauty of parks (who often, in fact, make A LOT of money by being beggars, even more than salary of fresh grad engineer – stop giving money to Indonesian beggars! It doesn’t educate them!!).

Well, the serene beauty of very clean Japanese gardens is irreplaceable. You have to experience it by yourself to appreciate its true beauty. Take a look at these pictures:

Something about the trees. Something about the leaves. Something about the rocks. Something about the beauty of it all.
Something about the trees. Something about the leaves. Something about the rocks. Something about the beauty of it all. This was taken at Nagoya Castle.
At Futagawa-juku Honjin Museum, Toyohashi
At Futagawa-juku Honjin Museum, Toyohashi
Inari Shrine
I call it The Gate of Wish. It’s in Inari Shrine.
Imperial Palace Garden, Tokyo
Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo
Nichibotsu wa utsukushii desu. A special thank you to Kan-chan for teaching me these words. One of the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen, even beats the one I saw in Kuta.
Nichibotsu wa utsukushii desu. A special thank you to Kan-chan for teaching me these words. One of the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen, even beats the one I saw in Kuta.

5. The People

Ah yes, the people. These people are very modest, kind, and do everything possible to please their guests. TUT guys, TUT staffs, my host family, our unprecedented tour guides in Tokyo: Kitahara and Soichiro (in which, without them, we would be completely lost), that cute guy in the airport (whoops), those guys that the Indonesian girls couldn’t stop talking about (and one of them is even now in an open relationship with one of us – no, not me), haha!

My point is, Japanese people are amazing. I was touched 🙂

_P
Full team! ISS 2013!
Little Angels of Japan 🙂 I miss Risa and Kaito too much.
My host family and I were wearing TUT's special robe
My host family and I were wearing TUT’s special robe

This was my Japanese crush HAHA 😀

Peace! :3

The energetic grandmothers at Futagawa-juku Honjin Museum who organized an Origami class. They’re EXPERTS!

The old women and Risa
The old women and Risa

One of them taught me how to made Origami. It looked simple but it was actually……….hard.

She is an origami expert in my eyes, haha!
She is an origami expert in my eyes, haha!

They made this from 600 little pieces of papers. SUGOII DESU NE!

A whole bouquet of flowers made from origami papers. Reminds me of Konan from Naruto series. :D
A whole bouquet of flowers made from origami papers. Reminds me of Konan from Naruto series. 😀

Aand these are our Tokyo tour guide. Soichiro (most left) and Kitahara (wearing red T-shirt). It was really a coincidence. We were introduced very briefly to Kitahara after the tea ceremony. He wasn’t even a participant of ISS. He performed the ceremony because he was a member of Japanese Tea Ceremony Club in TUT. Adry posted “Touchdown Tokyo!” on Facebook, in which he replied, “Really? I’m in Shibuya now!”. WHAATT. We were quite afraid to start exploring Tokyo by ourselves, and now here’s a tour guide in front of us! Hahaha! He brought Soichiro with him who lived in Tokyo, so we were saved for the day!

Hontoo ni arigato gozaimashita, Kitahara-san, Soichiro-san!

So I guess that’s all. You can see that I DO REALLY MISS JAPAN. I’m not lying. When my twin brother came back from Gunma, he acted like “Damn I wanna go back”, and now I understand how he felt. After 14 days in USA, I badly wanted to come back home, same goes with Thailand and Vietnam. But after 10 days in Japan, I wanted to stay. There’s just a whole lot more things to be explored. And here’s to a wish that I hope will be granted: I want to go to Japan again with my twin brother. To visit our Japanese friends, and to be mesmerized by The Land of Rising Sun once again (or twice, or thrice, I won’t mind, haha!)

And I have to say the universe conspired to make me experienced this whole journey with these 6 crazy guys and girls who were supposed to be….ITB BEST STUDENTS, ahahahahah. Our jargon is BFF Sampai Mati, ckckck I miss those craziness.

To Japan we go!
To Japan we go!

Arigato gozaimashita, minna-san! TUT, UTM, HCMUT, Kawaguchi family, and all the people I met along the way.

Matane! May we meet again someday! 🙂

Perkiraan

Angin itu meniup satu perahu ke arah barat, dan satu perahu ke arah timur.

Karena, mungkin, ada kata sepakat yang akan terasa lebih sakit daripada ucapan perpisahan. Ada keyakinan semu bahwa dunia memang berjalan semestinya, dan mungkin, di suatu titik yang jauh, ada jawaban atas pertanyaan-pertanyaan retoris nan fana.

Ada takdir yang telah ditulis oleh Sang Sutradara kehidupan. Ada garis yang harus diikuti, orbit-orbit tertentu yang harus dilalui satelit mini. Dan mungkin, Ia berpikir, memang belum saatnya.

Belumlah hadir. Apa gunanya mengulang semua proses dari awal? Ia berkata, belum tentu kau keluar hidup-hidup dan kembali pulih sepenuhnya. Bahkan saat ini pun ada lubang-lubang kecil yang belum tertutup, yang kadangkala masih terasa pedih dan sedikit bernanah.

Ada luka dalam jiwa yang tidak bisa disembuhkan. Ada pedih yang tidak lekang oleh waktu. Tapi ada pula manusia yang keluar dari pergumulan peluh penuh lumpur. Mencoba mencari kembali mentari, walaupun bayangan bulan tidak sepenuhnya terhapus dari pelupuk.

Ia selalu berkata ada saatnya. Janji-Nya. Dan Ia, sampai kini, sampai nanti, tidak pernah khianat.