When You Are Young and Full of Dreams

February 27, 2016

It’s been a long while since the last time I wrote a word in this page. I have always been too moody to write that I could neglect writing for quite some time unless I have something, some events, that touched my heart and motivated me to finally get my hands back on the keyboards. Not for Stata coding though. To write a blog post, I mean. I wouldn’t call this a quality post, not that I have made one anyway, as this is just a random thought surfaced due to a wonderful experience I had today.

The story starts with me and some friends participating in a volunteer activity called Mengejar UI (lit. Chasing UI) which provides free university entrance exam tutoring, specifically to be admitted to University of Indonesia (UI), for less fortunate high school students in Jakarta. We participate as voluntary tutors.

This afternoon, Mengejar UI organizing committee held an event for our students called Bedah Kampus which lets the students to dig information about disciplines provided by UI and its prospective careers, so that the students can decide on whatever disciplines they would aim in the entrance exam. Alumnus and senior students shared their knowledge and experiences to Mengejar UI Students about their respective discipline.

I was one of the alumnus attending the event to share some of my petty wisdom of my discipline, Economics. And again, rather than I inspired them, I was the one being inspired by them. Their enthusiasm mesmerized me. Some kids who aim to be Economics student shared their wonderful dreams and ambitions. I was so happy at that moment because kids like these, young, hardworking and full of dreams, are the ones that keeps me being optimistic regarding the future of Indonesia.

They really remind me of myself when I was their age (it was ten years ago), aiming to enroll in Economics UI with a handful of dreams that I will keep carrying on until the end of my life, hoping that I could see them at least sprout before the end of the journey. Everybody has their dreams. As for me, my tiny little dream is nothing groundbreaking, something that would make me look like an idealistic fool. But, hey, I never feel ashamed with my dreams. Just like these kids who could openly share theirs to me with sparks in their eyes. It is to have a world where everybody could feel that their dreams, their lifetime goal, is within their reach regardless of whether they are less fortunate or blessed people. In short, a world of equal opportunity. This is a world where I could imagine everybody could reflect their life optimistically with a smile in their face.

If I reflect upon myself, I choose the path of academia or research to realize this dream. Maybe you would wonder, how can we make that happen by publishing some papers in journals? This question has become so frequent that it occurred more often than Liam Neeson’s family members being taken in movies. Well, that’s not so often. A friend of mine once asked me why I would restrict my path on academia in achieving that. That there are plenty of ways. That maybe campaigning a social movement like Anies Baswedan with his Indonesia Mengajar would have a much better chance on achieving that. I may have to agree. But, I know my capabilities. I am not as charismatic as that mentor of mine who can move a large mass of people for a single cause despite not being part of the government.

Everybody was born with their latent capabilities. There are those with brilliant mind, those with brimming charisma, those with authentic entrepreneurship, and so on. I am so proud with my underclassman in UI, M. Alfatih Timur, who has been bestowed with the honor of “30 Under 30 Asia” by Forbes for his social business KitaBisa who has helped numerous people fulfilling their dreams. Timmy, Timur’s nickname, certainly has the same vision as I am, or at least similar. What he has done is something that youth of my age can accomplish. He is an inspiration of many youths, including myself. His chance of fulfilling my dream is significantly higher than mine. But, it looks like I wouldn’t do what Timmy do. Simply because it is not my forte.

What I have recognized from myself is that, among other less advantageous talents that I have, my forte is this mediocre brain of mine which has a few things but an immense love for mathematics, economics, and all knowledge about human beings. I don’t have the best mind among other humans, but that is what the best that I had in me. The path that I choose may not be the path with the highest success probability among other people’s efforts, but it is the path that I believe has the highest success probability among all the possibilities that I have with me. Moreover, ultimately, it is the path that I enjoy the ride, because I love what I am doing now.

Thus, when you are young and full of dreams, spend your time to figure out what is your call in achieving your dreams. Spend your time to try and to fail, to taste defeat, and to be back on your feet, keep the iterations, when you are young and full of dreams, until you find what you are best at. Not something that you can do better than other people, but something you can do better than all other things you can do. When you are young, you have plenty of chances to spend for failures. When you are full of dreams, you have strong reason to rise from your fall. This is our once in a lifetime chance, when we are young and full of dreams.

Well, then again, I haven’t even been successful with my efforts to realize my dream. So, maybe you would think that I am not the one to talk. Well, yeah, it is a long journey, and maybe I couldn’t make it to the end. But seeing these kids, so young and full of dreams, I believe that even when I lay my legs to rest someday, there will be those who will keep running their feet towards the end. Therefore, even when I am not young anymore, as long as I am full of dreams, in my journey of fulfilling my dreams, I will keep on helping others, especially the next generations, in their journey.

Smile Eternally,


Oh wow, it’s been forever since I wrote my cheesy catchphrase that I made when I was young (I am) and full of dreams (will always be), the Smile Eternally. No, I’m not ashamed with the catchphrase. I respect your opinion, but, I am not ashamed. Period.

That Day, 365 Days Ago

When the Last Milestone was Placed

July 7th, 2013

It’s been a while since I posted on this dear blog. Back then, more than a year ago, I was caught up with lots of things which kept me busy for quite some time. Just when I though I finally had free time to think of and write something, fate just kept me from writing. Then, it was all just gone away. Not a single letter I put on this page after that day when destiny stroke.

I was never a good story teller but I always wanted to tell this story about a friend of mine. She was a special friend of mine, an extraordinary one. Not a friend that you just spend the time with, hanging out and share some laugh. I personally think calling her a mere best friend is an insult to her. Because she is an extraordinary best friend. Well, this is going to be long.

This story started way back then. Let us rewind a bit to August 2006. I was a freshly admitted freshman, in my orientation to know my new campus well. I spent my high school time in a special program which allowed me to finish high school in  two years. Thus, I went to university ahead of my high school friends from the same year, and just a few of my seniors, whom I don’t really know well back then, enrolled in the same program as mine. None of my classmates from the same program went into the same faculty. Therefore, I was practically alone in that new campus.

That is when she came. When I was just taking a break in campus after all those tiring orientation tasks, she was the one calling for me out of nowhere. To my surprise, she did already know my name. I’m pretty sure I didn’t wear name tag at that time. She was a freshman, just like me. So, yeah, we introduced ourselves. Her name is Marissa Danastri. She wanted me to call her Icha. She is my first female friend in University of Indonesia.

So, our conversation did not end there. We hanged out quite a lot back then, while we were still on orientation. As the first semester started, we hanged out more often. We even took the organizational activities. We went home together with Uchal’s car (he is our special friend), which we called BBB since the car’s number is B888V (dude, if only the last V is B). We listened to the same music, in Uchal’s car by the way. We sang as hard as we can in that 90’s Honda Accord. The three of us, the BBB regular passengers. That was a pleasant time, indeed.

In this legendary car is where we started to share dreams. It was only small dreams back then. Like how we wanted to join the Economics Department Student Council a.k.a. KANOPI and climb our organizational career there, or how I wanted to be the president of Economix, an international economic student conference organized by KANOPI, and I want them to be in my team. It was really a small and simple dreams, yet felt so distant from us back then. That was when we really underestimated how fast time can flow.

One-by-one, this simple dream of ours started to crop. July 2007, we placed our first milestone of our dreams. We were admitted as staffs of KANOPI, though the three of us was in different departments. So, we indeed climbed our career in this organization, as in the next period, we were promoted to department head. Again, we placed our next milestone.

In July 2008, I ultimately decided to take on the responsibility of the president of The 6th Economix conference. Icha was the first person I asked to become the vice president. Realizing that this was our dream to begin with, which started as a small talk in BBB. That cheap and small talk was about to be realized, much to our surprise how fast time has flown, and how dreams can always be realized. So, with the team we always dreamed of almost two years prior, we finally won the bid, and thus another milestone of our dreams was placed and fortified.

This is an important milestone, because it shows the two of us that long term dream can be realized just as we planned. We proved that daydreaming can become something, and distant dream is always achievable, though we were still in small scale.

We worked very hard to organize the conference. She was the best vice president I could ever had. While I was focused more on the external affairs, she handled the internal very well. She even sometimes organize my schedule, well, to be honest most of the time. She was always a good partner to take critical decision. She might be headstrong and stubborn in debates, much to my trouble to find equilibrium. I was always a bad listener. Well, literally and not literally. In literally, I often misheard someone saying something, probably because I get distracted too easily.While not literally, I can be as headstrong as she is. But in the end we always had the same conclusion. It was always for the best that we sought on.

We totally wrapped the 6th Economix together with the team. That was when all of us shared the tears of joy and laughter together, knowing that all of our hard works paid. Again, we remembered how this was all started as a silly talk. And we wondered just how far we can go after that with our dreams. Hence, we were on the last predetermined milestone. We had yet to decide what’s next.

When I fell in love, Icha was always be the first vanguard to motivate this love-awkward person named Roy. She always pushed me to take actions no matter how small or insignificant it may be to show my feelings, all to no avail as it usually ended up as an acute awkwardness that I experienced. This has eternally become quite a comedy in my life. When she fell in love, she always try to find me to get any advice or insight from me, which she clearly doesn’t need, due to my love-related-weakness and her stubborness. I believed that she can take care of herself without my advice. I always thought that Icha probably just want to share her story to me since I am her friend, in which I should know about her.

Anyway, Icha can also be irritating sometimes. She can sometimes call you saying that she was in a big trouble, then asked you to come over to help her. Sometimes it is really a trouble. But, some other times, she was just exaggerating the problem to gather all of us around. Then, she can hangout with all of us. Despite all of that, Icha had always been successful to gather us all, even after a long time of no hanging out. Then, we can share laugh together again.

As our years in university went by, I was appointed as vice president of KANOPI, while Icha stepped down from her seat in KANOPI. However, Icha didn’t stop to support me even though she was not in the organization body anymore. She was always be there when I need advice on the organizational problem. Though she has stepped down, it was still our dream. So, we need to accomplished it to the very end.

As our time in campus was reaching its climax, we started to share an even distant dreams. We dreamed of studying abroad, stepped our feet outside the border of our country, and absorbed as many wisdom as we can from developed countries out there. We dreamed of contributing to our country’s well-being, to the world as well, and ultimately for humanity with the knowledge and ability that we acquire in our grand voyage. All of those great dreams, so distant that you might laugh at us, so silly like joining government cabinet with all of us friends as a team, so big that we felt so small compared to our dreams.

Our experience in Economix, though its on imcomparable scale, had strengthen our faith on achieving them. So many milestones we need to placed in order to achieve them. How long and hard the path that we need to take after this. But, we kept going on with those dreams, because those are dreams we shared together.

That was when I fully realized that Icha is not a mere best friend. She was a friend whom I shared my dreams with, who walks together with me to achieve it, no matter how hard and long it will be. That what makes Icha special. That was the very first time I ever had a friend whom I shared my lifetime dreams. Not just me and Icha, but also many friends of us in the same friendship shares the same dreams. It was never my dreams. It is our dreams.

Finally, 2010, we graduated. From that point onward, we will walk in our own path, chasing dreams in our own way, with beliefs that one day our road may converge, and thus our dreams will be fulfilled. Then Icha joined the Ministry of Communication and Information of Indonesia, while I spent my freshly graduateness as a voluntary primary teacher in remote area. Our road diverged at that time.

We talked  to each other less after that, especially since I was living in remote area, so far away from her. We did not even met face to face for months. We only talked on telephones or texts that we hardly did that time. However, when I tell her that I finally got a scholarship to continue my study to USA, I can hear and feel how overjoyed she was. I already placed another milestone to our dream. It was her turn next to put her, and I believed she will in no time.

After I returned from my service as primary teacher, in 2011, we talked even less. I got a job as assistant-researcher in Bank Indonesia. Our workplace was not that far. Yet, we grew even more distant. We were too caught up with our works that we didn’t really communicate for months. This is the pinpoint which I mentioned at the very beginning, of the reason why I did not write for my blog.

Then at one point, in 2012, probably a month before my resignation from my job since I had to prepare for my departure to USA, Icha asks us for an afterwork meet up. That time, I missed the meet up since I was taking an overtime to do works that I need to finish before my resignation. It’s not that I need to finish it by tomorrow. It’s just that I prefer to finish everything early even just a bit, not that it will give me big trouble if I didn’t finish it that day.

So, I missed the chance to meet her. Then, it was getting harder to meet after that since I even had to do my paperworks for my departure preparation. At the beginning of July 2012, I finally finished the paperworks and most of my office works, so I finally had free time to post on my blog. I already planned to do it on my weekend. I just had to find a topic to write.

Finally, Saturday came. I was chilling out by playing games as usual for my weekend light activity after five days of work, trying to find topic for my blog. Then, my cellphone rang. It was a call from Uchal. Well, it might be an invitation to hang out as usual.

So, I casually picked up the phone, even trying to sound as fun as usual. But what I only heard a panicking voice from Uchal’s girlfriend and our special friend, Happy. I could not really understand what she meant. She kept on convincing me to come over Icha’s house without explaining why. I jokingly refused because Icha had always been trying to sound mysterious and serious to invite us, yet in the end we hanged out casually and having fun as usual. But then, the phone was handed to Uchal. Uchal was trying to sound calm. Then, he said something that I could not digest at first. He said it over and over again. The very same sentence. The sentence that I never even imagined in my wildest dream.

Icha has passed away.

The moment of pause is like a year long in my mind. I just could not believe what I heard. I am always bad with listening. I just hoped that my listening was as bad as ever. But, damn, why it worked so well at that time. I heard it loud and clear, that Icha has gone forever. That an accident took her away.

I rushed to Icha’s house after that. I tried to drive as calm as I can even though I knew my heart and my mind was on skirmish. I did not hope that it was just a dream, because I know I was wide awake. I just hoped that when I arrived at Icha’s house, I will find Icha there safe and sound, as healthy as ever, then naughtily laugh as she succeed on gathering us together, just like how she would do, just like how she always do.

But then, what I found at Icha’s house was never what I hoped for. I could not see her victorious smile anymore. I could not hear her laugh anymore. I could not get pissed on her exaggerating problems just to gather us together. Because, it was not an exaggeration, no more exaggeration. Because, Icha had really gone.

365 days ago, Icha had finally placed her final milestone.

I was so broken. I felt like a hole had been bored through my heart. I practically lost my mind as I sent text messages on Whatsapp messenger that will never be replied. Yes, I did send messages to Icha’s phone number, though I was totally concious that she would never reply anymore. When I opened Icha’s conversation page with me on the messenger, I could only see blank pages. Yes, I did cleared my messages months ago to save phone memory. This blank page shows how I didn’t get in touch with her, and I regret it. I sought redemption by sending her message, though it was clearly too late.

I sent her everything about our story. How we met, how we finally became friend. I sent her about our dreams, our passion, and our promises that we have yet to fulfill. I sent her everything I have about her in my mind. I try to recollect everything about Icha from the deepest domain of my memory. I was like trying to remind Icha about everything, blindly hoping that she might return. But, I knew I was wrong. I knew that what I was doing was completely wrong. That I had to accept it.

That was why, at one point, I stopped doing that completely. I finally cleared my mind. I almost strayed to a wrong path. Icha’s death is my greatest shock after losing my grandparents. I was never been that down. I was always bragging on how positive thinking I was, yet I cannot even keep a single positivity that time. I felt very small and weak at that time. I had to start over again.

Then, I decided to make my first post on my blog to be the story of Icha and me. But, in front of computer screen. I could not find any words to say. I had wrote papers, articles, even undergraduate thesis successfully. Yet, I cannot find any words to say about my very best friend. Then, I decided to leave it be for a whole one year, until I find the words, until I can recollect all of the puzzles about her. Until that, I will not post anything in my blog. I swear that it would be my last time doing this.

Days later, we personally talked with Icha’s mother, whom we already knew very well for a long time. She told us stories about Icha. Some we had heard from Icha herself and some was new for us. Icha was always a good daughter, we know that, as she was always a very good friend.

Then, Icha’s mom told us how busy Icha was with works for the last couple of months. She was always been full of work. She left home early in the morning and came home very late at night. It was hard for her. But, she can always maintain her smile. She said that she really wanted to hang out with us, just like how it was. But, she just couldn’t. That time when she asked us to hang out after work, she was actually quite stressed and needed moral support.

It was like a lightning struck to my head. Icha was very busy. So busy that she cannot even hanged out on the weekend due to many circumstances. Then, when she finally spared some time for us, I passed it because of work. When she needed support the most, I passed it because of work. I passed it because of work that I can actually did the day after. Only for that foolish reason, I failed to present in front of a friend in need. Some friend I am.

That time, I finally completely realized how precious time is, even every minute, every second. And more importantly is how we must spend that precious time with those who are precious for us, that is family and friends. That is how you live with no regret. Because there will be time when you have to bid farewell with those you love. You will really miss them afterwards. That is why, spend your time wisely, spare enough time for those you love.

Icha had always been beside me ever since that time, August 2006. Yet, six years later, I failed her. I did not even sit by her side when she needed the most. I always talk about frinedship. Like I can talk about friendship, I failed to fulfill my duty as friend. I really wanted to apologize to Icha. But, I can no longer do that. So, what I can do is to fix my mistakes. I will spend more time with my family and friends. I will live a life that I will not regret.

The picture above is the last picture of the two of us. I put this picture on my profile picture on facebook and twitter in order to reminisce the memories about her. It stayed there for exactly one year after her death. Yeah, today marks the day I change the picture.

Then. Icha’s mom told us that Icha actually already got a scholarship to study abroad from the ministry she worked. It was decided that she would continue her study in Australia.  I felt relieve hearing that. Icha did not forget our dream. She was always right on track. She placed her milestone of our dream, like how I believed she would. Unfortunately, she was never be able to accomplish that.

At that moment I decided, that I will fight for her part, too. I will live her share of life, since we share the same dreams. I will study for her part, too. I will accomplish the dreams for her part, too. All of my milestones ahead of me now, are hers also. As it was never my dreams to begin with. It is our dreams. I will make sure that even though she is no longer present, but her spirit carries on. That is the least that I can do, to a friend who shares the same dream, to a friend that always by my side.

My friend, especially you who get the chance to study abroad, just like what she dreamed of. There are thousands or many more people like Icha who dreams the same thing but never get the chance to accomplish it. All we have to do is to study to the fullest, in order to honor those who cannot. Because, we are very lucky after all.

July 7th is a date I will not forget. Because that is the day I lost a very precious friend, a special one. That is the day I learned a lot about life, though I never hoped that I would learn it this way. Today is exactly one year after her death. I finally put some words here, lots of them, about Icha. I hope that I can finally look forward from now on.

Finally, I will close this by saying something that is a long lost trademark of Icha. When texting, posting on someone’s wall, or any written activities that Icha do to anybody, she would put her trademark which consists of her name and the recipient. A trademark that I always considered silly and “alay” back then (for those who don’t understand “alay”, google it). It is and expression of how Icha love everybody, as she put ‘ChaCykRoy’ means that Icha loves Roy. However, I no longer consider it silly or alay. Because, it was her trademark, then I believe it is beautiful.

Bagus Arya Wirapati


Exactly right now when I type this, I open her contact in Whatsapp messenger after months. All of my messages is still there. The top of the page shows “MarIcha, last seen 6:35 am, 7/7/2012”. I sent my last message. Then. I finally deleted the whole messages, I’m moving on. :) 

Repost: T.G.I.F. huh??

Here's a little repost from my own post in my joined blog with my friends. Visit: http://philosophiers.blogspot.com

Hope you enjoy it!

T.G.I.F huh??
By: Bagus Arya Wirapati

Well, I guess it's been a very while since the last time we posts something on this precious blog of our dear friendship. Even though, some part of this friendship has turned out to be a loveship actually. Yes! Yes, I am talking about the one that requests a post with the shortest post in this earth right before this post, since both of them are the contributor for this blog. Please, sir, make yourself a real post also... :D

Now, now, since we have grown a little, and most of us have graduated and trapped inside the cruel, real-life, maybe a little shifting in our genre would be acceptable, wouldn't it? I want to talk about a phrase that we never say it very dearly before like today.

But, before we proceed to the main course, I would like tell a little story which inspires me so much in the past, about this certain person that had always been a friend of mine in my one year journey to remote area.

His name is Een, I usually call him Kang Een since he is a Sundanese, probably late twenty at the moment. He is our school caretaker is Muara Basung. This Kang Een is no ordinary caretaker, at least that's what I thought about him. He might be only a face in the crowd for most of us, even for most of our students, since he doesn't stand out too much. He usually have things done without being noticed at all. But, I found this guy to be very incredible when it comes to his job.

At one time he told me a story about his dream, that he actually does not want to be a caretaker like this, that he has a more promising dream, more fortune in it. However, fate brought him here as our beloved caretaker. Well, he is not that an angel-like person with all of his good traits. You might find him quite a delinquent but let us put that aside since he is bigger than that.

I heard a story that this Kang Een is the one that revitalize most of our school property that was quite trashed out one year prior to my arrival there. He came to my newly appointed headmaster that also has brought Kang Een there to work. He said that he want to rejuvenate the school. He then explained about the re-painting of the school, providing his plan about the color that would looks good for this place, a match with the color Muara Basung unique soil, also for the roofs. He also plan to clean and fixed the filthy bathroom which seems to be neglected for quite some times before Kang Een arrives. And then, the establishment of library and health unit which happens to be also the dream of our headmaster.

I learned that that was the beginning story of this school, the reason behind why I am always amazed by the tidiness and cleanliness of this wonderful school. It was because Kang Een's endless hardwork and visionary thinking about the ideal school environment for the student. After all of that hardwork he was still planning for the next development, that is planting grass on our school ground and flowers in front our class corridors. He already has an imagination about how the flower should be arranged and how he wanted to have a group of  bush arranged to spell our school's name.

It is just amazing. He already figured out and imagined everything about the ideal environment of this school, something that is not usually planned by a caretaker. A job that people usually underestimate and Kang Een was doing it to the fullest, or maybe beyond that. He works 24/7 with a number of holiday less than every of us. He is not only do what he is ordered but also think about what he should really do. He makes vision just like the rest of us with a more distinguished and seemingly honorable job description. But, he never said a word related to Thank God It's Friday (T.G.I.F.)

For us, the people who works five days a week, learning from a kind of person like Kang Een is a must. Why do we keep complaining about our jobs? Going to work every Monday grumbling and spend the rest of the week working while fully hoped for the Friday to come? Keep complaining about how we do not get a raise in salary? Keep on crying T.G.I.F every Friday and simultaneously curse when Monday is about to come, asking for more holidays?

Those are not sins, maybe those are not wrong at all. But, aren't we ashamed with Kang Een. He is paid lower than most of us yet he is doing his job more than he is expected to be. Kang Een has a bigger dream as he said to me back then, yet he is still doing that considered small job very well. Kang Een never had a specific holiday to say Thank God to, yet he proceed through the day as if it is nothing. I may not know how he feels inside but, at least he did not show any complaining on his situation.

We might want to say that we have achieved higher education that we are worth for more comfortable life. But, we must not forget that we are lucky enough to have parents or other persons to pay us for a higher education for that comfortable life. If we want to say that we have specialization that he don't have, then try doing those chores he is working on. I have try it and I know that for that kind of job, we also need a specialization, means that people like Kang Een should be paid more. However, the system does not allow us to paid him higher.

I don't want to be the good guy here, because I am also the one feels ashamed here. I was also the person who keeps complaining about life until I try to enjoy it more than before. My chance encounter with Kang Een has put more elation on my life, that maybe most of us missed the key of enjoying our job.

It is on "Do what you love, and love what you do" where the key lies.

In a condition, where we are unable to do what we love, it is loving what we do that surpasses all. Kang Een shows me how he try to love what he do, despite him having a bigger different dream than what he is doing currently. That is why in the end, he never tempted to complain too much about his situation.

Let us all think that we are lucky enough to have this considered better condition. Then let us try to love this situation, this job more than before until we stop complaining, as Kang Een with relatively less lucky condition was able to. Moreover, if we would say that our situation is worse than him, the try quitting your job and do his job. That is when you will understand the meaning of loving your job, because the possibility is twofold, you might find that being a caretaker is your passion then you can love the job, or that you regret complaining about your previous job and can finally love your previous job which you cannot return to now that it is too late. That is what it means to "do what you love and love what you do".

Let us learn from this person named Kang Een and forget the T.G.I.F. words, let us just do what we love and love what we do.

Smile eternally,

At Sky Is Our Reflection

Sky-gazing has always been a favorite thing for me. It has always been my childhood hobby to gaze up-high to the widespread of the blue substances or the black-starry carpet above my head. Sky-gazing had always made me imagine, "what lies beyond this seemingly unlimited sky?" It always gave me a sense of an endless adventure, adventure to discover my ability beyond the unlimited sky, that even sky is not a limit for me.

However, the sky that I really love cannot be seen anymore in my hometown, Jakarta. What lies above my head is not the favorite sapphire-blueish sky at noon, but a soiled sky which has turned to grayish, dirty blue. It has gone. The blue sky has gone.

It was a story when I was accompanying my student, Sabariah, to the final of Kuark Science Olympiad in Jakarta. In our journey, we met a certain child that my friend brought from Majene to participate on the same competition. His name is Angga. At one time, he asked me why can't he see the stars here in Jakarta, and moreover why does the sky looks like burning, as it has a color of dark red at that time, probably everyd eay in Jakarta.

Well, there's an explanation to this phenomena. Jakarta, having a tons of fossil-fueled vehicles running through its vein, has showered itself with an immense amount of pollution exhausted by the vehicles. Apparently, the polluting particle is slightly lighter that the air above the ground that it hollows the upper layer of air, trapped below the ozon layer. This polluted air create a substances which people usually called "Smog" (seems like a combination of Smoke and Fog), therefore covered the Jakarta's air with a fog-like substance from the accumulation of smoke. This is also the reason why the blue sky looks as if grayish.

As for the answer for that kid, at night, the smog block the light emitted by the star, making it invisible from the ground. Even a full moon would look blurry behind the smog wall. It is a little like the Rayleigh Scattering which explains why does the sky looks blue, apparently the light emitted by the stars and moon are scattered, making them looks unclear or in extreme way, unseen. This is also quite similar to how we cannot see them under cloudy weather.

The burning color comes from the city-light emitted by the sky-scrappers in the city. The lights, having yellow color in nature, showered the smog layer in the sky, painting it with orange color which makes it like burning. This phenomenon is similar to shooting light to a smoke or fog which gives us a view of yellow smoke or fog with addition that the smoke or fog is now can be seen much more clearly than before. These two reasons are behind the unseen stars and burning sky at night.

Well, now, right after I think of it, something crossed my mind. How this phenomena reflect ourselves in our lives. The pollution is an analogy of the bad things we had done in our lives. This bad things may be forgiven, but it may never be forgotten. In the end, the bad things, no matter how small it is, will cloud our good personality and blurred people's opinion on us. People will find it hard to see the stars inside us since the objectivity is clouded by the smog of our sin in the past.

Moreover, in that condition, people might talk bad on your good actions or your wealthiness. Nobody in this earth love the burning sky in Jakarta. People miss the starry pitch-black sky that accompany us in the night. You may have a wonderful city-lights inside you that you actually want people to feel enlightened even in the darkest night. You may have the most sincere motivation in doing so, probably to redeem yourself for the sin that you have done in the past. However, the smog is still there. What's left for your good doings is that burning sky that everybody hates, like a sinner wearing angel mask, and your cause is just not that sincere, as if you're a hypocrite.

I guess this is the point of no returning. You cannot turn-back time and undo your sin. But, really, I believe there is a reset button in this life like the one that we have in video games, a button called starting all over again. Once you stop polluting yourself, even though your crusade are being rejected like the burning sky, just believe that even the earth could regulate itself and little by little, it banishing the smoke out of the sky so that people could the starry sky they always missed. The same goes for us, one day the smog might disappear even though it leaves some traces, but people will start accepting you again, that you have redeemed yourself for all of your faulty life in the past.

Looking at the burning sky of Jakarta everyday, reminds me of my faults in the past and how I may have hurt people with that. But, I always know that every human has a place to be forgiven as long as they live their live for the good and leave the faulty behind. I must press this reset button and start things all over again, never repeating the same mistakes again, and returning the blue and starry skies that I always love. This is what life is meant to be, to learn from our every mistake to create a better tomorrow.

At sky is our reflection,

Siapakah "Negara" Itu?

Sudah lama juga tidak menulis dalam Bahasa Indonesia untuk blog ini. Aku memang mencoba banyak menggunakan bahasa Inggris untuk berlatih menggunakan bahasa internasional tersebut mengingat kemampuan bahasa Inggrisku yang masih kurang. Tapi, khusus kali ini, karena aku ingin berbicara sesuatu yang sangat erat kaitannya dengan bangsaku, bangsa Indonesia, maka kutuliskan ini dalam bahasa persatuan kami, bahasa Indonesia.
Aku ingat pernah menemukan pertanyaan yang dilontarkan oleh seorang teman di kampus tentang “negara”, Temanku ini bertanya dalam status Facebook-nya, sebuah pertanyaan yang menyangkut UUD 1945 Pasal 34.
“Fakir miskin dan anak terlantar dipelihara oleh negara. Siapakah 'Negara' itu?”
Ini adalah pertanyaan yang cukup menarik dan kurasa setiap orang bisa saja memberikan jawaban yang berbeda dengan perspektif masing-masing yang berbeda pula. Apakah definisi dari entitas yang disebut negara ini? Tentunya bukan pemerintah saja bukan? Karena pemerintah adalah salah satu bagian dari entitas negara. Pertanyaan dapat berlanjut menjadi bagaimana negara “memelihara” fakir miskin dan anak terlantar ini?
Aku memiliki perspektifku sendiri untuk menjawab pertanyaan-pertanyaan ini. Entah apakah ada orang lain yang memiliki perspektif yang sama denganku atau tidak, tapi aku mendapatkan jawaban sederhana ini dari kontemplasi yang kuperoleh saat mengajar PPKn sewaktu aku masih menjadi guru sekolah dasar sebagai salah satu Pengajar Muda Gerakan Indonesia Mengajar. Betapa menariknya bagiku, bahwa jawaban ini bisa dijawab dengan ilmu yang diajarkan kepada murid sekolah dasar, setidaknya menurut perspektifku.
Semua definisi ini berawal dari pertanyaan mendasar, “apakah syarat sebuah negara?”
Syarat sebuah negara adalah memiliki wilayah, memiliki penduduk, dan memiliki pemerintahan yang berdaulat. Tanpa salah satunya, maka sebuah entitas tidak dapat dikatakan sebagai sebuah negara (tentu saja, bayangkan ada negara tanpa salah satu dari ketiganya), Sehingga, melalui syarat-syarat tersebut yang membentuk keberadaan negara, dapatlah kita simpulkan bahwa ketiganyalah yang harus memelihara fakir miskin dan anak terlantar di negara ini berdasarkan konstitusi.
Kita mulai dari pemerintah. Sangat jelas bahwa di negara manapun, pemerintah berkewajiban untuk menjaga kelangsungan hidup fakir miskin (tidak membiarkan mereka mati kelaparan atau sakit) dan melakukan usaha pengentasan kemiskinan. Aku rasa hal ini sangat jelas dan tidak ada perdebatan apakah perlu pemerintah memberikan dukungan kepada para fakir miskin. Sebab, negara seliberal Amerika Serikat sekalipun, ternyata tidak kalah sosialis dengan negara sosialis kebanyakan dalam hal penyantunan orang miskin. Tidak perlu dijelaskan dengan lebih jauh.
Kemudian, penduduk Indonesia harus memelihara fakir miskin dan anak terlantar. Dengan kata lain, kita semua, walaupun kita bukan bagian dari pemerintahan, harus memelihara mereka. Banyak cara yang bisa dilakukan. Contoh paling sederhananya adalah menyantuni mereka. Mungkin banyak orang yang memiliki perspektif bahwa menyantuni dengan memberi uang atau barang tidak efektif, karena hanya berjangka pendek sehingga tidak menyelesaikan masalah. Kalau begitu bisa dilakukan dengan memberikan mereka pekerjaan, atau pendidikan yang layak agar mereka dapat mandiri di kemudian hari. Namun, kita tidak boleh lupa, definisi penduduk dalam syarat tersebut tidak memiliki batasan tertentu. Artinya, fakir miskin dan anak terlantar juga termasuk dalam kategori penduduk tersebut. Dengan kata lain, mereka juga harus memelihara dirinya sendiri. Mereka juga harus punya semangat untuk mandiri dan melepaskan diri dari kemiskinan dengan kemampuannya sendiri. Sehingga, mereka tidak boleh hanya berpangku tangan dan menunggu disuapi oleh orang yang lebih beruntung. Kata penduduk berlaku bagi semua penduduk Indonesia, tidak terkecuali kaya atau miskin.
Terakhir, wilayah NKRI harus memelihara fakir miskin dan anak terlantar. Apa artinya? Artinya, seluruh wilayah Indonesia beserta sumber daya yang berada di dalamnya harus dapat digunakan sebaik-baiknya untuk kepentingan rakyatnya, termasuk fakir miskin dan anak terlantar. Sehingga, seharusnya sumber daya alam, mineral, energi dan lainnya harusnya dapat diakses dengan mudah termasuk oleh para fakir miskin dan anak terlantar. Inilah yang seringkali dilupakan oleh pemerintah. Banyak kendala kemiskinan di negara ini sebenarnya berasal dari masalah yang disebut “akses”. Banyak orang miskin yang tidak memliki akses yang mudah terhadap bahan makanan bernutrisi. Banyak orang miskin yang tidak memiliki akses yang mudah kepada lapangan kerja atau untuk membuka usaha. Banyak pedesaan yang belum terakses terhadap listrik atau telekomunikasi. Justru syarat pertama dari sebuah negara adalah pemegang kunci dasar pengentasan kemiskinan yang banyak terlupakan oleh banyak orang.
Akses tidak harus berupa penyediaan secara gratis. BIsa dilakukan dengan penyediaan dalam harga yang murah, diimbangi dengan akses terhadap mata pencaharian yang memadai atau pendidikan yang memadai untuk mengolahnya. Untuk dapat mengoperasikan “wilayah” agar dapat memelihara fakir miskin, diperlukan usaha dan kerja sama dari dua syarat lainnya, yaitu adalah pemerintah dan penduduk. Oleh karena itu, penting bagi pemerintah dan penduduk, tidak terkecuali fakir miskin itu sendiri, untuk menyediakan atau minimal mempermudah akses bagi fakir miskin dan anak terlantar untuk mengakses sumber daya yang ada dalam NKRI. Sehingga, "wilayah" tidak seakan hanya dimiliki oleh segelintir orang saja.
Kesimpulannya, mengatasi masalah kemiskinan, serta memelihara para fakir miskin dan anak terlantar di Indonesia adalah tugas bagi seluruh isi dari negara Indonesia, terutama seluruh warga negara Indonesia, tanpa terkecuali. Percuma jika pemerintah dan penduduk lainnya berusaha mengentaskan kemiskinan, tetapi orang-orang miskin tidak memiliki keinginan dan turut berusaha mengeluarkan dirinya sendiri dari kemiskinan. Juga sebaliknya, percuma jika orang miskin membanting tulang memperbaiki kualitas hidupnya tetapi tidak didukung atau lebih parahnya lagi jika dihambat oleh pemerintah dan penduduk lainnya, karena ingin menguasai sumber daya yang ada di wilayah Indonesia bagi dirinya sendiri. Semua harus memiliki kesadaran untuk turut berpartisipasi tanpa terkecuali. Itulah makna sebenarnya dari berbangsa dan bernegara.

Finally, I Understand...

It was a piece of story from my experience from my one year experience as a voluntary primary teacher in Rupat island. This story may appear insignificant, but it shows me a big lesson in life. It shows me how to empathize others, especially those who less fortunate than me.

I was the advisory teacher for our school science olympics team. It was quite difficult back then, since this is the first time for these children to participate in any competition and I myself do not have any educational background in natural sciences. Fortunately, I have a big interest on sciences that I read quite a lot scientific references back when I was younger so that I could share some of my limited knowledge to these children.

Our school is not yet a year-old. It had just been formally established as national school. So, our sources are so much limited. There are not many tools that can be utilized for our trainings and exercises. Therefore, we need to provide the tools ourselves.

We were trying to train with tools that we can collect from our surroundings, such as plastic bags, plastic glass and bottles, tree branches, everything. However, there are times that I did not expect that I must use my own money to buy necessary tools that I cannot find from our environment. This is how I deplete my cash back then.

In our island, there is no bank tellers nor ATMs. If we want to draw cash from our savings, we have to go to Dumai, the nearest city from our island. However, going to Dumai is not an easy thing. Taking speed boat to Dumai is quite expensive so that I can only travel there once in a month in order to waste less money. If I want to spend less money, I have to travel by land through a hellish mudland which spend a couple hours to get to Dumai. Therefore, I need to prepare petty cash enough for a whole month, including the travel cost to Dumai for the end of month. I usually prepare about a million IDR for my livings there.

Since I am the advisor for the olympics squad, that time I spend quite a lot of money for our training to buy tools and books in Dumai. Therefore, I leave not much money for in my deposits and could only prepare myself the usual amount of petty cash for that month, even though I know I must prepare more just in case I need to buy anything else for our activities that month. I was just taking it lightly that I only need to oppress my consumptions for this month. I never thought that I would be broke before the end of month.

One day, a week before the competition, I need to copy some exercises for our training. Copying in our island is very expensive. If in Jakarta we spend a hundred IDR or less for one copy, here, we spend about threefold the cost. This is how I came to be broke. I invite all of my students in our olympics squad, means that I have to provide every single of them with the copies. I never thought that it would be that expensive to copy all of this exercises.

I was quite shocked that I have to pay almost three hundred thousand IDR for those exercises. While I spend my five hundred thousand IDR for my hostfamily, and another one hundred thousand for my personal and training expenses, this leaves me with one hundred thousand IDR until the rest of the month. And it is still  about ten days before the end of month.

Well, surviving ten days with that amount of money is easy, actually. But, don't forget, I must pay for my travel cost to Dumai by the end of month and that cost me ninety thousand IDR. That leaves me with ten thousand. It was crazy.

That was the time when I feel so powerless. Not to mention to hangout in the village coffee stall, I cannot even buy a bread that cost one thousand IDR that I usually buy. I can only see those piles of bread on my way home from school, imagining their taste in my mouth, filling my hungry stomach. Well, it's not that I cannot eat, I can eat with my host family since they always provide me with foods everyday. But, I must sacrifice all of that amenities until the end of month. I must withstand my imagination of consuming all those foods and beverages, only be able to see others enjoying it. I feel suffered that time.

Then I come to contemplation, "this is how those who are less fortunate than me thinks when they see me enjoying amenities in front of them." Those less fortunate people could only see me, withstanding their own desire to have the same thing. But, they can't. They must be feeling powerless that time. They can do nothing but to imagine how is the taste of the foods I ate, the drinks I drank. I am now understand that after all this time, despite of me saying that I want to eradicate poverty, I lack of empathy.

So, this is how it feels to have nothing at all. So, this is how it feels to want something that seems very simple, not that luxurious, but you cannot have it. So, this is why my ancestors instruct us not to show our dinner in front of other people if we don't want to share it with them. This is why, I need to have more empathy, something I just realized that I am lacking of.

But then, something comes up in my mind. Is it too much for me to spend my cash for the sake of my student until I broke like this. I contemplate more, and come up with a conclusion that this is not too much. I have resources for these kids to learn more, while they might not have the resources. It is not too much, no, it is never too much to share what we have for those in needs. It is not like that I will die starving after this. I just have to hold my desires more. Then, I will not stop here. If it is for these kids to go to their dreams, to see Jakarta with science olympics, then I willingly sacrifice more than this. 

All of this journey have told me how I have to learn a lot, how I lack a lot life values. This one told me how to empathize. How I am very grateful to be in this journey. I am a teacher, but it seems I am the who learn more than anyone. I will never forget this experience, the one that taught me how I lack of empathy after all this time.

Smile eternally,

For Every Realization of My Dream

It has been almost 23 years since the day I was born to this world. In this 22 years of growing up, things has changed in almost every aspect of me. Except for one thing for sure that has always been here with me. This is for as long as I remember is the first thing I remember about myself, something that keeps on growing along with me, my very best friend that born together with me, at the same time, same place.

_It is my endless appetite to dream..._

I was born a dreamer, that's one thing for sure. I cannot stop dreaming, imagining for even a second in my life. It was merely a fantasy of a boy in the beginning, something like being a superhero, gaining special power, save the world, or something else like that.

But, in the end, the more I fantasize, the more I realize how normal I am, how ordinary. I look around and realize that even if such a fantasy exist, it won't be me. There are a lot of people around me that are worth more to become one. While me? I will remain a dreamer among these special borns around me.

But, that is no problem for me. I may be ordinary, but I believe I have the same right to dream, and I have the same right to make it real. Thus, while youth still remains inside me, I dream for more. But, this time I dream differently.

I begin my dream with the end. What would I accomplish at the end of my life? Then I dream about the path, the long and hard path to reach for the end. And yes, the imagination is flowing through my mind and it just won't stop. I even dream about several seconds to go to the future, even though most of them are not realized.

Then, during my childhood, I have put milestones to reach for the end pf my dream. A dream for another dream. These milestone are my childhood dreams, the product of my imagination for the end.

_I dream of a world without poverty_

That is the end, eradicating poverty. And in order to progress, I need to fulfill a dream for another and go on, dreams like going to university of indonesia, studying abroad at USA, enrolling in Princeton University, and so many other milestone, a dream for another.

And back when I was younher than this, I have vow to myself, that if any of my childhood dreams are accomplished, I would cut all of my hair on my head, becoming completely bald.

_Why is that?_

Because hair will always grow no matter how many times you cut it. It falls, but befor you notice it, it will rise again and again. That is a philosophy that I would put in my heart, the I would grow up no matter what, I will strive for the end of my dream.

Cutting my hair means that it is time to start all over again. One of my dream is accomplished and now is time to start again from zeri and strive for another dream, a dream for another dream. I must not be mesmerized by the accomplished dream and strive more. The hair keeps on growing rven if I cut it all, so why should I stop on just this one dream.

This is my second time in my life for cutting all of my hair. This is just my second childhood dream, my second milestone. The road to the end is still very long. I hope more of my hair would be cut, more of my dream would be realized. Even though I am just an ordinary person, just like my hair, I won't stop dreaming, growing and progressing. This bald head will always be the witness.

With this fistful dream in my hand, I walk in the path I believe in...

_Never stop dreaming_

My True Meaning of Victory

It was Ied Fitr, the victorious day for Moslem all over the world after one month of fasting, when I finally got my mind on this thing: What is victory?

This is a special Ied Fitr for me. Because, for the first time, I celebrate this special day separated from my family. As I may have told you before, I joined Teaching Indonesia (Indonesia Mengajar) to becoma a primary teacher in remote area. I am currently a primary teacher in Pangkalan Nyirih village of Rupat Island in Bengkalis, Riau. But, I am not alone in this once a year day, I have a new family in this island, Mr. Gopar and his warm family, swept away my bitterness of having this day without my main family.

In this special day, people in various social media ask each other the same question as mine, about the meaning of victory. People came up with various answers. Some told about their experiences, and some told about their phylosophies. I came up with quite different answer with theirs, at least with the ones that I have seen directly with my very own eyes.

For me, there are two meaning of victory. First, victory First is about ourselves, victory is about defeating yourself. A little contradiction, isn’t it? To achieve victory, you need to be defeated instead, and by your very own self. Actually, it was not ourselves in physical term. Ourselves is what beyond our flesh, that run through every vein and every cycle inside us. The weaknesses, the pride, the greed, the envy and any other things that consume our mind and blind our heart. It is the one that hinder ourselves to feel, hinder ourselves to see others, and bring us to our own self-fulfilling without any compassion about everything around us. It is very human to have these things in ourselves, but it is more human to put ourselves to defeat these parts of our own. It is a battle between ourselves. Can we defeat ourselves? Because, once we are defeated, we are victorious in reality.

Second is about the other around us, victory is when everybody never aim for victory, yet they do their best for themselves, and for the others. What is the importance of victory? Does it all that matter for you? Why are we always aiming for victories? Those who only aim for victory will eventually do anything to achieve it, even though in the process they have to hurt others. If that is what happen, then what is the meaning of having victories if we cannot celebrate it with others? True victory is when you do your best for yourself and the others without any ambition of actually winning it, and celebrate whatever the result you are having, because a solitary victory is no fun. We are social creature. Therefore, whether you win or lose, you are still celebrating your victories with those that you love, because you do what’s best for their part, too.

That is my dimensions of victory. Please keep in mind that victory is not a one straight line, it is a multidimensional system. Can you achieve victory for yourselves, and for others?

Smile Eternally...

What it means by "DREAM BIG"

It's been months since I became Pengajar Muda in Gerakan Indonesia Mengajar. I have seen a lot and learn no less than that. Being a teacher, I always tell my students to Dream Big, and to put their dream as high as the sky or even higher. I always tell them to fill the empty blue sky with their rainbow of dreams which in the future will elevate the prosperity of the nation. But, in the end, they always come up with a big question mark.

What is the meaning of DREAM BIG?

You may come up with a very cliche answer, like dream big is to dream something very big, like becoming a president or any cool job you can ever imagine. Yeah, most of us might answer that. But, I ask them back when they answer like that, "What would you do when you already reach your dream?" They might end up in silent, not knowing what to answer. We can dream of becoming a president, then what would we do when we already become a president? We can dream of becoming a minister or professor, then what? That's the end of it? Then, we're not dreaming big.

Dreaming big is not about how big the job/profession that you dream of, it is about how big the thing that you do as that profession.

You might think that being a farmer is a very small dream. Yeah, everybody could dream that. But, it's the same as being a president, easy to dream. Then how about being a farmer that has thousand hectares of land and employs thousands of workers, participating in eradicating unemployment. Small? Not at all. It is a big dream rather than a small nothing dream like becoming a president. If you want to become a president, then explain what would you do once you reach that place. And the things that you will do must big and influencing to other people. Never dream of something which could only beneficial to yourself. That is what I mean by "Dream Big".

I let them write all of their big dreams and surprisingly I saw some extraordinarily big dreams.

I want to become a president who bring this country to prosperity. I want to become a teacher who makes my students go into college. I want to become a minister who combat poverty. I want to become a mechanics who invent the fastest car in the world. And many more.

These are the big dreams of the small kids. So, why can't we dream more than them. We, adults, shouldn't be stopped on what profession we would like to have after this. Start thinking what are we gonna do and dream big! This world is the manifestation of the dreams of the people from the past. Let us shape this world with our big dreams which create a better world for every one.

Dream Big,

What is inside Rapid Growth

I was disconnected to the outside world for a while due to my training camp of Indonesia Mengajar. About this movement called Indonesia Mengajar, I will spare some other time since I currently have limited time, and it needs a more extensive and intensive writing for that issue. Now, I am come up with an economic issue which I barely touched during this training camp.

I heard that our growth are expanding in a stable manner as targeted of around 6%. I would like to say that it was quite a good performance considering that we hardly reach that point and maintain it in a stable manner. However, another news that passed on me said that Singapore which suffered quite a major crisis recently has overshoot its growth into 13%. It is sure quite amazing if we look back on 2008/2009 where Singapore has minus growth (approximately -13%, if I'm not mistaken since I have limited access to information right now to confirm this number) due to Global Financial Crisis. With this fact, it might be looked like that Indonesia is performing relatively slow compared to Singapore's great performance.

But, let me correct it a little. It is true that our performance is slower than Singapore but you should view it in a different manner. If we reflect on the previous crisis which occurred in the past, we could see the pattern where economic growth (proxied by the growth of Real GDP) overshoots at two moments. First is during the completion of recovery process, a regime shifting from bust to boom condition) and sccond is during the last minutes into the crisis.

How do this matter in this issue?

If we look on the positive side, we will acquire two point of view. Both are appropriate for Indonesia's stability so that we are not that encouraged to strive for a more rapid growth with aim to exceed Singapore's rapid growth.

First, there is no surprise that Singapore has that rapid growth. They were under recession for some time ago which is indicated by its relatively slow growth. The economy was unstable and performing slower than Indonesia. However, that was merely because it was under recession, not because Indonesia is performing better than Singapore. Like I have said before, the loop happens when an economy reach a turning point of regime switching. It is natural for Singapore to has that high growth.

Second, an excessive growth bears the potential of causing an overheating economy which will end up in crisis like during 1980's Oil Boom, 1997/1998's Asian Financial Crisis and 2008 Global Financial Crisis. The more excessive the overheating process occurred, the deeper the economic crisis might happen in the end. It is explained as a pro-cyclical behavior which has been studied by countries recently. If we aim to achieve growth which higher than Singapore's, we might reach the overheating condition. It will lead us to another economic crisis if we do not march carefully in this point.

Therefore, it is necessary for us to maintain the growth in this stable manner rather than to boost it excessively. We must not make Singapore's growth as our criteria of good performance. We should be thankful that our economy has reach this point and maintain it well. Let us just maintain the stability and grow our economy gradually. It is to avoid more detrimental crises in the future.