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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Always Listening, Always Understanding?

Human beings are hardwired with the impulse to share our ideas and the desire to know we’ve been heard. It’s all part of our need for community. That’s why we’re constantly sending out signals and signs. And why we look for them from other people. We’re always waiting for messages. Hoping for connection. And if we haven’t received a message, that doesn’t always mean it hasn’t been sent to us. Sometimes it means we haven’t listened hard enough.

In spite of all our communication technology, no invention is as effective as the sound of the human voice. When we hear the human voice, we instinctively want to listen, in hopes of understanding it. Even when the speaker is searching for the right words to say. Even when all we here is yelling, or crying, or singing. That’s because the human voice resonates differently from anything else in the world. That’s why we can hear a singer’s voice over the sound of a full orchestra. We will always hear that singer, no matter what else surrounds it.

 

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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Random Thought

 

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A Collective Request

Numbers are constant. Until they’re not. Our inability to influence outcome is the great equalizer. Makes the world fair. Computers generate random numbers in an attempt to glean meaning out of probability. Endless numerical sequences lacking any pattern. But during a cataclysmic global event – tsunami, earthquake, the attacks of 9/11 – these random numbers suddenly stop being random.

As our collective consciousness synchronizes, so do the numbers. Science can’t explain the phenomenon, but religion does. It’s called prayer. A collective request, sent up in unison. A shared hope. A fear relieved. A life spared. In times of tragedy, times of collective joy – in these brief moments, only this shared emotional experience can makes the world seem less random.

Maybe it’s coincidence. Or maybe it’s the answer to our prayers.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Random Thought

 

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Between Two Points

People said the shortest path between two points is a straight line. But what happens if that path gets blocked? When sediment impedes the flow of a river, it redirects, zigzagging instead of following a straight course. What looks to the crow like meandering, is to the water the most efficient route from source to outlet. Nature finds a detour.

When two points are destined to connect, but a direct connection is impossible, the universe will always find another way to make the connection. Even when all hope seems lost, certain ties cannot be broken. They define who we are and who we can become, across space, across time, along paths we cannot predict. Nature will always find a way.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Random Thought

 

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The Grand Mosaic

We can’t always help people. But sometimes we wonder how much difference one person makes in this world. We look inside ourselves questioning if we have the capacity for heroism and greatness. But the truth is every time we take an action, we make an impact. Every single thing we do has an affect on the people around us. Every choice we make sends ripples out into the world. Our smallest acts of kindness can cause a chain reaction of unforeseen benefits for people we’ve never meet. We might not witness those results but they happen all the same.

We are all a part of this infinite tessellation. And though individual pieces of this puzzle may never physically touch each other, they all form part of that same grand mosaic. Like bricks in a wall, the whole is made stronger by each brick. Remove one and it all comes crumbling down. Though we may not realize it, the integrity of this wall is tested daily. But the wall holds. Because of everyone’s collective support.

 

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Random Thought

 

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Like a Twist of Fate

Image490.000 babies will be born today. Each of them unique. And each one of them a link in the greater human chain. And the moment their umbilical cord is severed, they’ll become an individual, their own hopes, dreams, and desires. But, in fact, each one of us is actually made up of a dozen systems which, in turn, comprise 60 trillion cells, and those cells house countless proteins, DNA organelles. What appears to be an individual is actually a network. Each one of us is, in fact, a living, breathing community, but it doesn’t stop there. Why would it? Every individual hope you harbor, every dream you entertain, every desire you fulfill has an impact far greater than you can imagine. At least that’s how it looks from where I’m sitting.

The threads that connect us are not bound by space or time. What seems to be individual, like a twist of fate, from another perspective, is simply one of those threads pulled tight. How things should have been all along. And even when those threads seem irreparably frayed they never break. Not completely. But sometimes, the most important connection is here, and now.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Random Thought

 

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Survival Strategy

There are three million species of animals living in tropical rain forests, and one of them, the red fire ant, lives underground. Under constant threat of annihilation from flash floods. Nature doesn’t care. If a species wants to survive, it has to prove it deserves too. When the floods come, fire ants hold on to each other, creating a living raft that can float until the water recedes. Months, if necessary.

So how does a species figure something like that out? Instinct? Trial and error? Was there one fire ant who was being swept away by the rushing water and grabbed on to another ant, only to find that together they could float? What if you were the one who knew what needed to be done but you had no words? How do you make the others understand? How do you call for help?

Human beings are not the strongest species on the planet. We’re not the fastest, or maybe even the smartest. The one advantage we have is our ability to cooperate to help each other out. We recognize ourselves in each other, and we’re programmed for compassion, for heroism, for love. And those things make us stronger, faster and smarter. It’s why we’ve survived. It’s why we even want to.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Random Thought

 

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Merinding Indonesia Raya

Entah mengapa, saya selalu merinding tiap kali mendengar lagu kebangsaan Indonesia Raya dikumandangkan. Apalagi jika dibawakan dengan instrumen pengiring lengkap (genderangnya jangan lupa) atau dinyanyikan ketika kita jauh dari Indonesia. Rasanya tiada yang lebih agung daripada lagu ciptaan Wage Rudolf Supratman itu.

Seperti Minggu (2/9) malam tadi di Konser Kemerdekaan 2012 yang dihelat di Teater Jakarta, Taman Ismail Marzuki, intro lagu Indonesia Raya dibuka dengan petikan sasando Djitron Pah. Sayang, lengkingan mike yang beradu dengan sound system sedikit mengganggu awal yang syahdu. Tapi, tak apalah. Toh, di keadaan sesungguhnya, kemerdekaan dan kedaulatan Indonesia juga masih kerap mendapatkan gangguan. Sampai kini, malah.

Dan, *drum roll, please* sambung menyambung vokal indah Vina Panduwinata, Sara Djojohadikusumo, Kikan Namara, INDivo, dan Paduan Suara Mahasiswa (PSM) & Alumni ITB membentuk satu lagu Indonesia Raya yang megah lagi indah.

Saya langsung teringat perkataan saya kepada seorang sahabat, beberapa minggu sebelumnya, “Aku jarang banget denger lagu Indonesia Raya, nih.” Secara refleks sahabat saya balik bertanya, “Masa sih? Segitunya..” Dia mengaku sering mendengar alunan lagu kebangsaan, terutama saat menjelang ‘rapat penting’ dengan pejabat negara. Maklum, ia pegawai BUMN. Beda dengan saya yang punya bos (keturunan) bule.. #eh.

Selama beberapa detik, pikiran saya mengembara ke masa lalu. Di jaman sekolah, saya adalah dirigent abadi (baca: dari SD sampai SMA gak pernah lepas dari tugas memimpin paduan suara). Menyanyikan atau mendengarkan lagu Indonesia Raya adalah kegiatan rutin tiap minggu. Ketika tugas belajar di luar negeri, mendengarkan lagu Indonesia Raya di KBRI itu sesuatu banget. Paling tidak, dada sesak menahan haru, tangis, dan ingin pulang ke pangkuan Ibu Pertiwi.

Kembali ke konser malam itu, hampir genap 10 menit seluruh penonton berdiri ketika lagu Indonesia Raya berkumandang – dengan intro dan prelude yang panjang. Semua melakukannya dengan ikhlas. Tak ada yang protes. Di tengah kegelapan, mata saya masih mampu menangkap beberapa penonton yang bahunya naik turun – sebagai pertanda ia tengah menahan haru atau ikut menyanyi tanpa bersuara (mungkin malu kalau terlihat ingin menandingi suara tante Vina).

“Kini kita tidak lagi berperang melawan penjajah seperti yang dilakukan oleh pahlawan-pahlawan kita sampai titik darah penghabisan. Penjajah Indonesia yang harus kita lawan saat ini adalah budaya luar yang mulai menggerogoti nilai-nilai luhur Pancasila.” (Dedi Panigoro, pendiri Yayasan Musik Sastra Indonesia)

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Random Thought

 

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