Help!

Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody
Help! You know I need someone
Help!(When) When I was younger (When I was young) so much younger than today
(I never need) I never needed anybody’s help in any way
(Now) But now these days are gone (These days are gone) and I’m not so self assured
(And now I find) Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

(Now) And now my life has changed (My life has changed) in oh so many ways
(My independence) My independence seems to vanish in the haze
(But) But ev’ry now (Every now and then) and then I feel so insecure
(I know that I) I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
(Now) But now these days are gone (These days are gone) and I’m not so self assured
(And now I find) Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

Help me, help me
Ooh

Help adalah satu dari sekian banyak lagu the Beatles favorit saya. Karena lagu ini berbicara tentang sebuah hakikat paling dasar dari diri seorang manusia yang pasti dan akan selalu butuh pertolongan. Ada saat-saat dalam hidup kita ketika baris-baris pepohonan dan bangunan-bangunan yang berdiri di hadapan kita berubah seketika warnanya menjadi hitam putih seperti televisi di tahun 1950-an. Di hari-hari tergelap itu ketika memandang matahari pun rasanya butuh keberanian ekstra.

Mungkin akan ada banyak orang yang hadir dalam hidup kita. Ada orang-orang yang hanya akan hadir sehari atau dua hari saja, juga ada mereka yang akan selalu hadir di keseharian selama satu periode waktu, dan mereka yang akan selalu hadir kapan pun kita membutuhkan. Untuk yang terakhir ini, nggak semua orang punya. Dan di situlah sedihnya hidup menjadi manusia.

Karena apa pun yang kita lakukan, baik atau buruk pun itu, kita nggak akan bisa lepas dari judge atau label yang akan disematkan oleh orang lain. Sebagian orang bisa melaluinya tanpa kepikiran, sebagian yang lain mau nggak mau menjadikan itu suatu standar bagi diri mereka.

Pilih hidupmu. Pilih karirmu. Pilih asuransimu. Pilih perumahanmu. Pilih akun bank-mu. Pilih keluargamu. Pilih dana pensiunmu. Pilih rekreasimu. Pilih liburanmu. Pilih pendidikan anak-anakmu. Pilih perceraian dengan istrimu. Pilih gambar-gambar atau video-video yang akan kamu post di media sosial. Pilih mesin cucimu. Pilih televisimu. Pilih komputermu. Pilih laptopmu. Pilih teman-temanmu. Pilih tagihan-tagihan kartu kreditmu. Pilih segalanya yang membuatmu bahagia.

Tentang mimpi, tentang cita-cita

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Anne Frank Huis, Amsterdam

“Ik zal niet onbetekenend blijven, ik zal in de wereld en voor de mensen werken!” /

“Aku tidak ingin menjadi orang yang tidak berarti, aku ingin melakukan sesuatu di dunia dan untuk kemanusiaan.”

(Entry pada buku harian Anne Frank di tanggal 11 April 1944)

Ketika mencoba mendeskripsikan fase-fase dalam proses transisi karir The Beatles pada buku Shout!, Philip Norman menggunakan istilah: Wanting, Getting, Having, dan Wasting.

Umumnya, kita mengawali banyak proses dalam hidup kita dengan Wanting (menginginkan). Seperti ingin mencapai ini-itu, entah itu berkuliah di tempat yang diinginkan atau memulai karir sesuai passion. Di proses wanting ini, terkadang jalan hidup kita belum jelas. Karena kita hanya melakukan segala sesuatu sekenanya saja, sesuai dengan apa yang kita anggap benar ketika itu. Tidak jarang pula manusia melakukan proses trial-and-error ketika berusaha melalui proses ini. Seperti misalnya, mencoba berbagai macam hal dari yang terlihat normal sampai yang paling aneh. Beberapa orang berhenti pada proses wanting, karena tidak melihat adanya kemajuan yang signifikan atau adanya kesempatan untuk mewujudkan apa yang diinginkannya.

Pada beberapa orang, proses Wanting ini akan berkembang menjadi Getting (mendapatkan), ketika elemen-elemen yang mendukung untuk terwujudnya keinginan itu tersedia dalam kehidupan kita. Seperti misalnya, adanya kesempatan atau momentum yang tepat untuk mewujudkannya. Proses getting juga bukanlah hal yang mudah, karena terkadang muncul tantangan yang bukan munculnya dari luar, tapi justru dari diri kita sendiri dan orang-orang terdekat kita. Seperti dikatakan oleh banyak petuah, kalau pertempuran tersulit itu adalah melawan diri kita sendiri. Karena pertempuran itu seringkali tidak kita saksikan dan kita rasakan hawa-hawa perjuangannya. Untuk bisa menang pada proses getting, kita perlu mendefinisikan dengan jelas mengenai apa yang benar-benar kita inginkan pada proses wanting. Karenanya mengevaluasi kembali hal-hal yang telah kita lakukan sesekali adalah hal yang perlu untuk dilakukan.

Setelah berjuang pada proses Getting, beberapa orang akan sampai pada proses Having (memiliki). Banyak orang menganggap proses ini sebagai hasil akhir, bahkan puncak dari kehidupan. Sebagian yang lain akan menganggap having sebagai hal yang biasa saja seiring berjalannya waktu, karena hal yang terasa spesial di awal pun akan menjadi hal yang biasa saja pada akhirnya. Karena itulah, tidak banyak manusia yang berakhir pada fase having. Kebanyakan dari mereka akan menuju ke fase berikutnya, yaitu Wasting (menyia-nyiakan).

Manusia itu pada dasarnya punya banyak kemauan, tanpa sadar bahwa masa hidupnya tidaklah lama. Karena itulah, menjadi hal yang penting untuk menyeleksi antara hal-hal yang hanya merupakan keinginan sementara dengan hal-hal yang menjadi panggilan hidup kita. Bisa jadi selama ini kita terjebak melakukan sesuatu yang bukan benar-benar cita-cita, harapan hidup kita. Berapa banyak orang yang kemudian kehilangan kewarasannya karena kerasnya situasi kerja di era modern? Modernitas menuntut banyak hal, salah satunya adalah terbatasnya waktu kita untuk melakukan hal-hal yang kita inginkan.

Sayangnya, aku terlambat menyadari panggilan hidupku. Tapi bukanlah masalah jika kau terlambat menyadarinya. Sepanjang hal itu terjadi ketika kau masih memiliki nafas untuk mewujudkan panggilan hidup itu dan semangat untuk meraihnya.

Untuk: Azizah Dwi Fatmawati, adik perempuanku yang tahun ini akan memulai masa kehidupannya sebagai mahasiswa di Teknik Mesin Universitas Brawijaya.

Baca, baca, dan terus baca

“Mungkin kau tak pernah bertemu denganku, tapi segala hal yang ada di pikiranku kini ada di kepalamu.”

Sampai saat ini, aku masih merasa kalau buku adalah penemuan paling ajaib yang pernah terjadi sepanjang sejarah peradaban manusia, walaupun mungkin sekarang sudah bertebaran juga berbagai artikel dan buku dalam wujud elektronik. Karena melalui buku, kita dapat berkomunikasi dengan manusia yang berbeda waktu dan tempat dengan kita.

Mungkin kalau boleh diibaratkan dengan konsep tentang perpindahan ruang dan waktu, buku ibarat sebuah peti kemas tempat kita bisa menyimpan baik-baik berbagai hal yang saat ini ada di kepala kita untuk dibuka kembali oleh orang lain yang bisa jadi hidup di 2000 tahun yang akan datang, atau mungkin tinggal ribuan kilometer jauhnya dari tempat kita berada.

Bukankah itu hal yang mengagumkan? Ketika kau bisa bercakap-cakap tentang filsafat alam dengan Aristoteles atau menikmati bagaimana Mary Shelley menceritakan kisah Frankenstein.

Selain sebagai penemuan terhebat, aku juga merasa buku adalah barang investasi yang paling berharga nilainya. Mungkin sedikit berlebihan, karena kita tahu kalau banyak buku bekas yang dihargai jauh lebih murah daripada buku baru. Akan tetapi perlu diperhatikan, kalau buku bekas yang dihargai murah kebanyakan adalah buku-buku yang rentang usianya kurang dari 100 tahun.

Justru, hei! Buku-buku tua yang sudah lapuk dan kuning dimakan usia akan dicari oleh manusia mana pun yang haus akan pengetahuan di dalamnya. Karena begitu berharganya pemikiran yang ada di dalamnya dan nilainya sebagai sebuah artefak. Saat ini, tentu bukan hal yang mudah untuk menemukan incunabula (incunabula: buku-buku pertama yang dicetak setelah Gutenberg menemukan teknik mencetak buku) dan menaruhnya di rak lemari buku kita.

Suatu hal yang menarik bahwa buku-buku itu menjadi sarang debu-debu dan jaring laba-laba di perpustakaan hingga waktu yang lama. Aku jadi bertanya-tanya sendiri pada wujud pikir manusia. Jika buku-buku itu tempat manusia mengawetkan pemikiran-pemikirannya, lalu debu-debu memenuhinya, lantas apakah pemikiran manusia sudah berdebu?

L’art pour l’art, Seniku dalam Belajar

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Saya pertama kali mengenal frasa l’art pour l’art ketika saya mengikuti kuliah Perkembangan Kesusastraan Belanda di semester ketiga perkuliahan saya. L’art pour l’art dapat diterjemahkan secara etimologi menjadi seni untuk seni dalam bahasa Indonesia atau art for art’s sake dalam bahasa Inggris. L’art pour l’art adalah slogan dalam bahasa Prancis yang populer di antara para penyair di Eropa abad ke-19 yang berusaha memaknai seni sebagai sesuatu yang murni. Dengan kata lain, seni harus merupakan sesuatu yang murni dan bebas dari segala unsur didaktik, moral, dan utilitarian. Sederhananya seni tidak boleh memuat unsur politik apapun.

Edgar Allan Poe sempat menyinggung mengenai konsep ini dalam esainya yang berjudul The Poetic Principle (1850):

“We have taken it into our heads that to write a poem simply for the poem’s sake […] and to acknowledge such to have been our design, would be to confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and force: – but the simple fact is that would we but permit ourselves to look into our own souls we should immediately there discover that under the sun there neither exists nor can exist any work more thoroughly dignified, more supremely noble, than this very poem, this poem per se, this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for the poem’s sake.”

Hakikat kemurnian seni ini menjadi sesuatu yang penting pada zaman itu. Ada pula suatu pendapat yang mengatakan bahwa seni itu dapat dijadikan suatu indikator bagi perkembangan peradaban. Semakin maju sebuah peradaban, seharusnya semakin berkembang pula karya seni pada zaman itu.

Sampai kemudian saya sampai pada suatu pendapat bahwa konsep seni ini pun ada dalam belajar. Seni harus murni dibuat untuk seni itu sendiri, maka menurut saya dalam belajar pun kita perlu melakukannya murni karena kita ingin belajar. Learn for Learn’s sake!! Karena bukan sekali dua kali saya menemukan orang-orang yang belajar karena alasan-alasan yang kurang membuat proses belajar itu berlangsung dengan baik.

Katakanlah, mungkin kita sendiri termasuk dari beberapa di antaranya. Ada orang-orang yang belajar karena mengejar nilai di atas kertas semata, atau demi mendapat pengakuan dari masyarakat. Sebenarnya hal itu tidak menjadi masalah, tetapi ketika kita berusaha keras mempelajari hal-hal yang tidak kita sukai, hal tersebut akan menjadi sesuatu yang membebani pikiran kita.

Let me ask: are you curious about something right now? when was the last time you felt curious?

Rasa penasaran itu yang menggerakkan kita untuk maju. Kapan terakhir kali Anda merasa penasaran dengan apa yang Anda pelajari? Mungkin Anda seringkali melihat sesuatu dan bertanya-tanya mengenai asal-usulnya, tetapi apa rasa penasaran itu hanya berhenti menjadi rasa penasaran? Karena ada begitu banyak pertanyaan yang masih belum terjawab hingga kini, menunggu ada jawabnya.

Salah seorang Imam Mazhab dalam Islam, Imam Syafi’i pernah mengatakan: Jika kamu tidak dapat menahan lelahnya belajar, maka kamu harus sanggup menahan perihnya kebodohan.” Menuntut ilmu itu penting, dan untuk bisa menjaga intensi kita dalam belajar, kita perlu terus memantik rasa penasaran kita pada hal-hal baru. Curiosities is important, bro-sist. Lalu bagaimana cara menjaga rasa penasaran kita agar tetap ada? Kita bisa memulai dari hal-hal sederhana, sesederhana meng-google sesuatu yang ada di keseharian yang menimbulkan pertanyaan di kepala kita. 

René Descartes mencontohkannya dengan Teori Keragu-raguannya yang mempertanyakan segala sesuatu dan meragukan apa yang ada di alam ini. Seperti misalnya, ketika kita sedang pergi dengan naik KRL Commuter Line, kita coba mencoba mencari tahu sesimpel bagaimana KRL bisa berjalan, kapan KRL mulai beroperasi di Jabodetabek, atau bagaimana pantograf pada KRL berguna untuk menerima aliran listrik dari gardu listrik. Konsep 5W+1H (What, Why, When, Where, Who, How) yang dulu kita pelajari di pelajaran Bahasa Indonesia semasa sekolah dapat diaplikasikan di sini.

Belajar lah karena kita memang harus belajar. Dan jangan sampai Anda merasa terpaksa karenanya. Ikutilah rasa penasaran Anda, sampai rasa penasaran Anda hilang karena Anda sudah tahu jawabannya!

Lust for Life: The Stories of the Great Song, Book, and Film

The phrase lust for life gives me goosebumps when I first reading it. The phrase which contains three words made my heart pounds as I began to think of its meaning. The first word, lust, has a mean of a strong desire for something to be completed soon. It also works for both concrete and abstract objects, i.e. wanderlust could be interpreted as someone who has a strong desire to wander. Hence, I came to a conclusion that lust for life could be meant as a strong desire to get what life could offer, to fully experience what life is and to get its very meaning.

I first ran across the phrase lust for life some years ago while I was reading a manga called BECK by Harold Sakuishi. It was a manga about a junior high sophomore called Tanaka Yukio (Koyuki) who did not experience much of his life while he was longing to write an autobiography someday later in his life. His life changed when he met a guy called Minami Ryusuke who is fond of music and later introduced him to musical world and even formed a band called BECK with him (The series title originally derived from the name of the band that they formed). This series eventually became the second bible of my life, since the story told the details of Koyuki’s struggle to the path of success.

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The cover of the 1st volume of BECK tankoubon manga.

The story centered around Koyuki and his relations with the band members. Although it is basically a manga about a band, Sakuishi-sensei has inserted some comedies and romances. Including the relationship between Koyuki and Minami Maho, Ryusuke’s half-sister. The main conflict started when BECK made an enemy of Ran, the major Japanese music producer in the story, who played a major role in the everlasting struggles that BECK has to face. It was also the reason why they had to sign a contract with infamous Lust for Life indie label for their first and second single to be produced.

There are various musical influences on BECK name for characters and places. Such as Morrison Hotel, the hotel where Jim Walsh was staying in Tokyo, originally derived from the name of the 5th studio album of the late the Doors. Another example is the name of the indie label Lust for Life which originally came from the song with the same title by Iggy Pop which was released in 1977. The song performed by Iggy Pop and co-written by the late David Bowie. The song itself was a big hit at the time and even ranked 149th on the list of Rolling Stone magazine “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

There is a background story to this song, which Pop told in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story behind the Song :

I was living in Berlin in the ’70s. David Bowie came over to see me and stayed. The wall was still up; Berlin was an occupied zone. Every Thursday night, the Armed Forces played Starsky and Hutch and we could pick it up on rabbit ears. Armed Forces TV had an audio signal like the Morse Code.

David picked up his son’s ukelele one day and knocked out the chord progression for this song and suggested the title. Lust For Life was my mom’s favorite book. It is a biographical novel about Vincent Van Gogh, written by Irving Stone, that was turned into a movie. It was a metaphor for my career at that point. I wasn’t enjoying success yet, much like Van Gogh who never saw any of the money or fame that his work did after he died.

Certain lyrics in the song, like “Johnny Yen” and “hypnotizing chickens,” refer to Williams S. Burroughs’ novel The Ticket That Exploded.

What the song talks about is how indispensible it is to be alive and excited but, ironically, our joys also make us vulnerable. Perhaps the people who aren’t too excited about things do better.

The funny thing was that the music was very bouncy and up. The band’s track had a great feel. We recorded it in a studio over there and we all hit it out of the park in one night. It was released in Holland in 1977 and became a #1 single. Then it sat on the shelf for awhile. It bubbled under the radar for about 20 years until the youth movie Trainspotting played the song loud in its entirety to open the movie. I was back in America then. The record became a multi-platinum soundtrack and it was a hit video here for me. It changed my life. “Lust For Life” was in other films as well, including Desperately Seeking Susan, but they weren’t as good for the song.

The most interesting thing about it is that as time goes on, the public will make of something what they want to. It’s a happy song. People don’t care about the irony in the verses. Whole families come up and thank me.

[Taken from http://www.chickensoup.com/book-story/30747/lust-for-life ]

From that story, I found out that the song has a reference to the book and film of Lust for Life. The book is written by Irving Stone, first published in 1934, while the movie adaptation released in 1956. The movie, as well as the book, became an initial success at the time.

The story of Lust for Life centered about the life of infamous yet famous Dutch-painter Vincent Van Gogh. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) never experienced success even once during his 37-years life. He has shifted from various career such as painting dealer, Evangelic pastor before settled down as a painter. As a painter, he even faced various problems and rejections from his neighborhood, acquaintances, other painters and even his families.

The one who never stops supported Vincent was his younger brother, Theo Van Gogh, who was a paintings dealer living in Paris. He gave Vincent 100 franc per month at first and raised it when his salary raised to support his brother who had not sold his paintings yet. Theo even backed up and gave Vincent good advice when all other Van Gogh family members were thinking that Vincent is a disgrace to the Van Gogh name.

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Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait (1889)

Lust for life, as Iggy Pop described in the above-mentioned passage, has become a metaphor of a strong will which Vincent Van Gogh bore. It described well of a person who worked hard yet never ever encountered success in his life. It is important to note that success is just a bonus which you will get through your hard work. What is really important is not about enjoying your success, but it is to share your passion, something that you valued highly, to the outside world. That was what Van Gogh did, by sharing his feelings through his works. Even though he never experiences the fame and money his works have brought. So do not forget to live your life to the fullest.

Two Moons to Describe Someone 

​I often think that humans are enjoying the judgments of others about themselves. They enjoy being appreciated for what they have done and their good personalities. But it also occurred that humans have fear of judgments by others whenever their bad side are being exposed. 

Whenever humans in this state of “fear of judgments”, they will try their best to evade the consequences by acting according to what society think is the best. As they are trying to fit, it will create some kind of alter ego and develop other fake personalities which often trigger humans to feel like they are not being themselves. 

That is why I think that there is a possibility that people who we know (or when we think personally that they know us), are not acting with their original scripts. They are trying to find the script within other people around them. They will become original men who try to comfort others, but actually hurt inside. 

It is hard, but it will not be hurt to try it. 

Sharon Creech once said, “Don’t judge a man before you walk two moons using his moccasins.” The term “moccasins” could be interpreted as an idiom to explain about seeing from the perspective. You have to become that person and gain knowledge about sales-marketing for about 2 months. 

So let’s drop the subject now by trying to focus! 

People’s Needs to be Appreciated 

One of the wonderful lessons which I have learned through meeting with new people in my life is about humans need to be appreciated by others. It never occurred to me that I begin to think about how slightly important it is to be appreciated by others. Both of appreciation and acknowledgement are two basic human needs. Humans need to be appreciated for who they are is an important matter which contribute to their desire to continuously improve their qualities of life.

To be surrounded by people who acknowledge us for the way we are is not an easy task. It requires effort to make the circle of those people. The question is how do we find it? We can find it by expanding our networks through various events. Networking events or traveling could contribute to this. We should try to find other people who share similar values to us. It is not necessary to have all of our values blend together, but we have to make sure that most of our values are there within these people.

The first case which I found was in a peer group while you are studying at the class. It often occurs to us that we have a gang or two as a student either at school or in university life. These peers are people who understand the most notable things about us, the one who give us rooms to become ourselves. Some people are failed to get the most of them because they chose the wrong peers. They thought that they have a good peer while actually the peer is the one who destroy them.

The second case is the dangerous one. Some people who seek to acknowledgements sometimes do not care about what they do either it is bad or good. The results of this matters are various cases which we witnessed in newspapers and social media sites. I am pretty sure that some evil doers do not actually do bad things because they are evil. Some people are in the case to fulfill their economic situations, some others seek for acknowledgement or we could simply call it popularity. It is not hard to find people like this. They are all around us and we need to try to appreciate them for what they are, not by what society demands. Sometimes it is the norm pressure in society which prevented this kind of people to achieve good results in life.

I am not trying to blame the norms. The norms are there to guide us on becoming a better society. But trying to press the norms to some people who can make a greater contribution by adapted to a different norms is not a good thing to do. We should give people rooms to become themselves. People are looking for some ways to be appreciated and we could not change the fact.