“I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the years'.” ~ Henry Moore

Phases of the Moon Muse

If I could only learn three things from psychology, they’d be: a) Maslovian Hierarchy (diagnosis), b) Taxonomy of Bloom (process) and c) Rogerian Approach(judging evaluation).

Maslow ranks human needs as follows: (1) physiological; (2) security and safety; (3) love and feelings of belonging; (4) competence, prestige, and esteem; (5) self-fulfillment; and (6) curiosity and the need to understand [Source: Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2008].

Ironically, the last Maslovian need occurs by letting go the three that precedes it.

Go figure.

Readers

On the other hand, I assume that my readers are (relatively) okay with the first two needs. There is no competition of argument when it comes to basic needs. You can’t think straight if you have not gotten your basic needs straightened.

Come to think of it, you shouldn’t be reading blogs if you’re hungry, cold and dodging bullets. Go tweet, instead.

21 Posts

I close the year with 21 of the year’s hottest posts, using the Maslovian levels of hierarchy as topic.

    Love and Feelings of Belonging

  1. Darah: His & Hers
  2. 30 Months
  3. Naked Society
  4. Smelling Sexy & Coupling Cousins
  5. Jealousy
  6. Secrets
  7. Worship Fuck

    Competence, Prestige and Esteem

  8. Unemployed by Choice
  9. Souvenirs (from Ubud)
  10. Pseudonym Vs. Real Name
  11. Ripples (the fleeting stuff that matter)
  12. Interview on American Bedu's
  13. Reincarnation
  14. Changing Looks
  15. Naked Artist

    Self-Fulfillment

  16. Engaging Silence (through Yoga)
  17. About the Calling
  18. Fast Aware
  19. Detachment
  20. Itch

PS: I don’t really care how you survived through that as much as I loved writing them. Good luck in the new year.

“All woman are conscious of when they first become objectified. It happens at puberty when our physicality begins to come into focus. And as soon as we are in our teens, we encounter problems with men who only care about the possibility of bedding us …We're so used to being objectified we don't really know how to look at ourselves any other way, especially sexually. In every culture and subculture, the physical ideals for women are far more codified and rigid than those for men.” – Hazel Dooney.

When my grandparents separated, Ninik became the primary breadwinner and my mother, the eldest of five, became Mother. Ibu (Indonesian: mother), from as early as pre-adolescence cooked and scrubbed and dressed her siblings. This collective memory all my uncles and aunts have endearingly shared with us.

Ibu cooked and scrubbed even when she was briefly in Singapore for her slightly higher education. That’s how my father saw her the first time, covered in soot and scrubbing ferociously on the kitchen floor. 

My parents did not have much at the beginning, but they always made love on a luxurious bed of long, soft hair.

You see, until she had our youngest brother, Ibu had very, very long hair. It reached down to her knees, and she used to collect it in a bun, while scrubbing and  cooking. While she was looking after her own siblings. While she was sweeping in the dorm in Singapore, about to catch my father’s eyes. While she was sure that she was going to have three children.

Ibu's hair reminded her that no matter how much she had to scrub and cook, there was a beautiful hope in all of it. There was a set of children to come out of her labors. There was a reason why she enchanted our father long enough with her long, lustrous hair.

For, one day, few months after she had that one-more-child, Ibu cropped her hair, and said, “Udah yah, no more children.”

And that’s where her hair has been growing since; in her children.

Elephant, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

Why did the Caliph Omar bin Al-Khattab’s administration decide on the Hegira as beginning of the Islamic calendar? What was so profound about the flight from Mecca to Medina? Why wasn’t it the year of Badr, or the year of Hajj, or the year of the prophet’s ascension (Isra’ Mi’raj)?

Quick answer? It was when the depression began to lift.

Depression

Depression at Initiation seems common amongst the prophets. Who could blame them? Buddha went through that depression with every disappointing teacher and method of achieving enlightenment. Jesus went through that too, ever so briefly, in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36).

In the case of Muhammad, the Hegira occurred on 622 A.D; about three years after the death of Lady Khadija and Abu Talib. More than anyone else, his wife and uncle were the Prophet’s earthly sources of consolation. Being stripped from their company, did not just test his integrity and sanity and character. It also straightened his mind about the job he was doing.

“Man is stupid…”

The fact that man is stupid was one of the things that the prophets needed to learn from their depression before starting to do their job.

The road that Buddha’s dharma began with accepting that life is suffering (can’t change that) and the renouncement (letting go) of worldly dependence. The path to the Christian salvation started with Jesus’ arrest (can’t change that) and the long, terrible walk to Golgotha; leaving behind a bloody testament on man’s stupidity, and the pricey cost of being dedicated to the job.

In a way, the grief and depression from the death of his wife and uncle (can’t change that, no siree) and the end of his natural resources, brought him to the greatest mystical experience in his life: Muhammad’s ascension to heaven - the Isra’ & Mi’raj.

“… still, the job needs to be done.”

When the prophets accepted what they could not change, was when the prophecy started taking its symbolic form: The four noble truths, the cross and the hegira.

Physically, the hegira was a move from one geographical location to another. A total reshuffling of social identities, homes, traditions, hangout places – comfort zones.

Yet, more than just a physical, the hegira is a forced, day-to-day mental shift. From want and craving, to renouncement of worldly dependence. From anguish and sadness, to the unquestioning acceptance of job demands. From fear and self-doubt, to courageous resolution and “doing the job for the job’s sake”.

No matter how ludicrous and futile the job seems. No matter how ungrateful and stubbornly stupid man can be.

A humble process that is acknowledged every day on the Hijri calendar.

 
  • Because they’re doable …

…like the bread Nessie shared with Macky.

  • Because they ripple …

…like Aysha’s muscles.

  • Because they’ll come back to you…

…like the weight he carried for you.

  • Because they’re what we are remembered for…

…like Asmaa's friend, who had only one chance in his life to make an impression on her. 

  • Because they make us heroes…

… like the man who removed the dead bird from the street. Saving his conscience, and Dubai Guy’s. And mine.

 

"There is no conflict between religions. Only conflict of interests." ~ Alia Makki

One mime yelling at another “How dare you call the Hadith and al-Qur’an in conflict!”

The embarrassed travel companion, desperately trying to calm me, fluttered with shushes. “I didn’t mean to offend you, please calm down.”

“I could’ve agreed with everything else, but NOT that version of XENOPHOBIC STUPIDITY! You’re trying to convince me that Imam Ali and the Prophet had different gods and goals!”

“Okay, I’ll agree with whatever you say, but please, please SHUSH.”

“Whether practical, social, theological or nonsensical schools of thought, they all meet in one place, unveiling a single, multidimensional truth. How can the Qur’an and Hadith and Bible and and Torah and Zabur be in conflict, if they were supposed to be mouthpieces of the same ideology?”

He tried muffling me. I bit him. Then pinned and sat on him.

“If you doubt the messenger; then doubt the message. If you doubt the message, then what’s the point in believing in a god. If there is a common god, then common sense dictates the common threads that bind our religions with each other. The common threads that bind our religions with all the other sciences and arts. You poor unscholarly, blasphemous fool, NOW YOU CAN TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!”

Ever heard of “Improve your argument, don’t raise your voice”?

Hell, no. You got me at a sore spot. Your ears alright?

"Chance is the pseudonym God uses when he doesn't want to sign his name." ~ Anatole France

jsam-00071

Someone once said that a brush with death brings out the better person in us. The transcendental and goal-oriented self. A brush with death is supposed to refine our awareness on how fragile life is.

Yet, I know someone who survived a plane crash. Looking at the chances of surviving a plane crash in the sixties (19%), you’d think that he had taken life by the horns, gotten himself a day-job or something, AT LEAST just to keep his boat afloat.

He did not.

He’s actually right where he was forty years ago; beside a crashed life with too many chances missed, and amendments too late. I feel so sorry for him that I can’t help but wonder if it should’ve been someone else...

Did it make a difference?

Would we have made a difference if we were in his shoes?  Would it have made a difference if we survived plane crashes every day?

Or do we just get used to the fact and begin to take ourselves, our lives, for granted as soon as forgetfulness erodes our bruises?

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” ~ Zen Proverb

A single red lamp on a shelf

Nobody wants to see miracles.

One of the reasons why there aren’t any more (reliable) modern prophets is because the Lord had thrown the towel on us and said, “(Your hearts are) like a rock and even worse in hardness.” [HQ 02:74] There’s just no point showing miracles to ordinary people like us if it doesn’t bring food on the table. Every. Day.

The ordinary, then, has got to be miraculous enough.

Until we see the miracles in between the ordinary lines, we’ll be happily stuck with boring and meaningless. With our personalized mottoes and prophecies. With our petty issues and trivial causes.

And it’s cool that miracles are set in the ordinary. That having three meals a day can be miracle enough for those who appreciates. That waking up free of debt is a salvation. That having all your limbs working is an amazing grace.

The absence of biblical miracles only made it easier to sieve between the amazing and the amazingly hellish, with mere adjectives shoved into our sentences.

"Everyone is dragged on by their favorite pleasure." ~ Virgil

There is a time when fucking is a form of Ibadah. And, no, I’m not referring to the tantric or the procreative sex.

Sex is supposed to be a kinky, healthy and yummy pas de deux - (or troi?) - communion with the Almighty. The saying goes that once the couple is shielded and the woman is clean, everything is applicable. Doesn’t that include fondling, foreplay and female multiple orgasms? Doesn’t that include bondage, role play and acrobatic poses?

Okay, I’m stretching it with the BDSM streak, but you’re smart.

There’s a hadith that says something about “If the wife rejects her husband’s amorous approach,the angels will condemn her until dawn breaks.” Who in their right mind would skip sex lest it’s really, really that awful? I’m inclined to reinterpret the hadith: "If the wife rejects her husband, he better start learning a couple of new tricks because he’s probably that boring a fuck”.

I’m just saying, the “Bismillah” at the beginning of those eleven minutes of romp means something good is supposed to be happening. For all the parties involved. Whether earthbound or sublime.

Ever wonder why satiety never lasts long?

We tend to trick our most natural needs with substitutes. Hunger being staved off by sugar and fat and muck. Emotional needs being staved off with food. Social needs being staved off with technology and noise. Self-actualization is confused with big, pretty, shiny toys.

The tricks we play on ourselves. Tsk.

What hunger needs is grub, healthy and warm. What loneliness needs is an embrace. Go tuck/pluck/duck yourself silly, if you must. Society only cares to its convenience. Self-actualization is a sublimated satisfaction; can’t have it if you’re hungry and unloved and cold.

"If you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.” ~ Arnold Edinborough

Sunlight shining on a library of booksI’ve finished reading four classical novels last month without even touching a single page. In all simplicity, I just made better use of my beat mobile phone and portable music player and a couple of very generous websites.

While the methods are unconventional, I’ve covered more classical literature in a month than I ever have by means of holding processed trees. Al Gore would have been proud.

Reading from mobile phones

I’ve seen a lot of variations to Classic Reader, and with web enabled phones, available books in the public domain are a plenty accessible. And 3G phones & services are fungi-like accessible these days. Reading from your web-enabled phones can make quite a company as you wait that call/SMS/taxi. Plus, reading from your phone makes the pages easier to bookmark. Just leave your phone’s web browser open and you can finish the chapter in some other time.

The more reasons to love cellular technology, eh? Who would have thought that a phone could compensate visits to the library/bookstore? 

For those who read for the sake of the prestige of being able to flip your hand and say “I’ve read Tolstoy/Twain/Chekhov…” go ahead and drool.

Problems with reading from mobile phones

  1. Depending on your phone screen size and optic strength, you might need to squint from time to time. And with text as long as the Russian literature (and I fuss about this because they’re my favorites), reading from a phone screen can be quite tasking after a while.

  2. I’m easily motion sick. The last time I tried reading in a car, my breakfast exited my gastric system from THE WRONG ORIFICE. Not being able to read/write while traveling would not be so bad it weren’t the most bored I could ever be in my life.

  3. The problem with reading from the web-enabled phone is the same problem with the internet in general: DISTRACTION. I managed to read an entire chapter. While waiting for the next chapter to load, I steal a quick peak at Gmail. Facebook notifications. Twitter replies. Ooh, let me reply to that SMS. And never go back to that Next Chapter of whatever that book was.

Which is why this next method of indulging in classical literature has been getting me all gushed and hot with excited anticipation.

Reading Audio Books

Audio books are awesome, I don’t know why I’ve never done them before.

Every physical downside of reading the classic have been fixed by having someone else read to me. No motion sickness, no internet distractions, no sore eyes. Imagine having bedtime stories read to your heart’s content without ever hearing the dreaded phrase “…The End. Time for bed.”

And have I mentioned how light it is? The entire volume of Huck Finn takes only takes about 311 MB of memory space. 1GB of memory can give you 1.4 days worth of stories. And get this, they’re all downloadable for FREE from Librivox.

I’ve been reading audio books on ojeks (motorbike taxis), in trains, and airplanes. I’ve done it while sorting money, while standing in lines and especially when I can’t sleep. I’m hooked, man. Indeed, your regular iPod can keep you comfortably, intellectually entertained for days.

Come to think about it, the only faults I’ve found from being so addicted to audio books, is that I always have that really faraway & distracted look on me. And I suspect the hairs in my ears are growing noticeably faster. A small cost for appeasing literary cravings, really.

Just don’t say that I didn’t warn ya the next time somebody suggests braiding the hair in your ear.


Anyway, whatchu waiting for? Get off this blog and start reading the classics!


[PS: Ms.Faultfinder, I know the thing you do with audio books are called listening instead of reading. So while you call me stupid for not knowing the difference, go ahead and call me inconsistent too. Especially since I developed that Mark Twainian slur from READING Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn simultaneously.]

[PPS: I was kidding about the ear hair thing. Kinda.]

Man typing an old typewriter

 Note: This entry was written in a Mark Twainian accent. Please drawl indulgently at the middle of words and the ends of the sentences. If you refuse to do it my way, you are going to miss how serious I am about this. And if you ever dare missing the seriousness of this post, you will be guilty of something worse: Wasting your time.

I wrote a 50 thousand words novel in 30 days. After the literary hangover, I asked myself “Now what?” to find that lame old faithful answer waiting for me.

Get back to blog writing, and tell you how that month went without getting me or anybody else – save some goats and cows on Eid and Thanksgiving – served on a table for dinner. That’s what.

Every story starts from one sentence, extended into a paragraph. That paragraph then grows into the structure of the entire story. My storyline and structure, sketched from beginning to end, was drawn in 2000 words. That part was creatively fun and fast and did not require the support of much IQ.

Then I just added fluff. Haha. Easy!

In reality, that’s when keyboard pounding, eye-straining and thoughts of “why the fuck am I doing this to myself?” really began. The Boring Middle, the long word-by-word walk crawl from beginning to the HOPES of an end. This is when my characters went crazy/nice/boring/mightastheypleased. They refused to do as I had told them to. This is when my faith in my excuse to exist faltered. Even the possibility of killing everybody, or shower them with loads and loads of happilyeverafters did not solve anything!

I don’t know why I called it fluff. It tasted more like nicotine grime and caffeine tar to me.

From around mid November, I always was in pain in the mornings, when my knuckle joints refuse to bend and straighten without making rusty screeches. In the evenings, the entire backside of my trunk heaved in awful moans of agony. My body parts took turns hurting, I hurt from fingers to elbows, to shoulders, to neck, and down to my scoliosis back and stumped tailbone.

And you thought writing was easy?

The story went from ridiculous to vulgar. Too many sex scenes, too much blood, too long essays, too short dialogues. I ran out of English words around the 28000th word. Then I ran out again on the 35000th. Only around the 42000th, that I assumed beginning to make sense.

Actually, it began to make beautiful sense around the last two thousand words.

On the afternoon of November 28, 2009, the neighbors were torturing a rotten audio speaker; playing it to its loudest wails. Amidst the obscenities (coming from the neighbor's speakers and my mouth), I heard a song about lovers who could not unite.

Hence, the last1500 words in the story was about the songstress.

Overall, the craft forced me into the the habit of watching and keeping track of my thoughts. This was my only daily meditation. The more conscious I was with my thoughts, the easier it was to manage my behavior and my characters’ destinies and the upward butts in my ashtray.

And just when I thought I was getting good at it, it happened like what Stephen King had said in “The Bags of Bones”, that writers teach their thoughts to misbehave. And I that have a blog to write.

That’s when I had to relearn everything from the beginning again, with all the misbehaving tendencies to scream at rotten speakers. Or cross over unimaginable boundaries. Or finish novel drafts.

With only a little bit of daily backaches, stiff joints and a Tolstoyan worth of cursing, you too might eventually overhear a heartbroken fairy, sing a sad song about things that might have been, and remember to offer thanks for the things that have become.

nano 09 winner

“Who, being loved, is poor?” ~ Oscar Wilde

 Japan, Tokyo, homeless man on park bench

The hungry do not go to heaven. Even if you don’t believe in afterlife and judgment, you don’t need a lot of demonstration to know what hell is like.  Poverty creates and breeds heathens “كاد الفقر أن يكون كفراً”

_______________________________

Since there are seven elements of wellbeing, logically there are also seven elements of hunger.

I’m not talking about one-time off kind of hunger. I’m talking about ingrained, prolonged and excruciating starvation. The kind that creates the greedy, lonely and anal persona that never seems to be satisfied. Or see beyond their hands-to-mouth rituals.

The Maslovian Hierarchy illustrates the order in which these needs be fulfilled. You can’t expect the hungry to excel at handling temptation. You can’t think about intimacy if you barely had anything to eat for days. You can’t think of pretty things if you have been cold all winter.

The quality of your character is defined by your most dominant type of hunger.

Which is why prophets and social leaders only come from wealthy and well-established families. Prophecy and leadership can only be entrusted to the well-fed, well-protected, well-educated and well-loved. The integrity of their character could have only become theirs through years of satisfaction, across all the elements of wellbeing.

_______________________________

The good thing, though, there are religious days where the poor can have a chance at enlightenment. Days are marked with lavish feasting. Days, in which the gluttonous act of stuffing of one’s belly with so much protein and carbohydrates borders on piety and enlightenment.

Eid, Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Holi feasts are marked with the enlightened rich flipping the Maslovian pyramid head over heels, bringing momentary satiety to the hungry poor.

…because satiety is supposed to us closer to detachment, and the answering of universal questions.

“Tell your friend a lie. If he keeps it secret, then tell him the truth.” ~ Proverb

silenzio What is it about identity that makes it so sacred? What is it that makes “being known” so fearful and obtrusive to our privacy? Why do we insist on “you don’t know shit about me”? Why do people say “I know you” with conceit? And why are we often find ourselves defensive when someone says that to us?

I once had a friend who was so possessive with his secrets that it filled him with dismay knowing that I kept very little to myself. He said something about “devaluing my identity” since everybody has a piece of it. I rolled my eyes at that. I guess I wasn’t so valuable for him then.

And what is it about wedding invitations in Saudi where the groom’s name is mentioned, and not the bride? Wedding invites in Saudi usually say something like “Fulan bin Fulan is to be married to the daughter of Fulan bin Fulan.”

Furthermore, why is the bride in Islamic wedding ceremony never asked her opinion? Why is it necessary for the Wali to speak on her behalf? Isn’t marriage a business between man and woman, not between man and the woman’s father?

Now, back to that thing about being known, yes, so I do realize that there is a matter of safety in keeping parts of our identity mysterious. But I’m talking about intimate relationships. The stuff we have with our parents and lovers and spouses and children. Why do we keep secrets from the people we love? Why the inherent fear that people would take advantage of our secrets in doing us harm?

Is it just so vulgar to have our secrets exposed, our movements predicted and our dreams obvious?

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” ~ Einstein

Man walking alone on beach in winterOne night, the young master got on his horse, and rode away from his family and mansion home, princely duties and worldly wealth. When they asked him why he left, Buddha said because the house was too “dusty and crowded” for him.

Basically he didn’t know why he left. He just had to.

In another place and time, there was a child so lucky to be saved from the poverty of his social class, to be adopted by the King, and be raised in the King’s splendid palace. Problem is, none of that brought Moses contentment. Pretty soon, his attention went astray and he walked RAN back to his miserable, impoverished and tasteless kin.

Let’s start again, one last time.

There was a guy who was so lucky to marry a successful businesswoman. His wife completely trusted him with the management of her wealth. They had six beautiful children. The society looked up and spoke well of them for they had the world in their hands and were kindly about it too.

Mohammad, however, caught a serious bout of insomnia somewhere around his late thirties. The insomnia made him take long walks at night, occasionally resting in caves like a hermit. Puzzled by an itch that he could not name.

That unnamable, unreasonable “itch” was so powerful that it drove men out of their given comforts. Their itch started changes that rippled for thousand of years. It may look cool from over where we stand today; because we know how well Buddha, Moses and Mohammad did at leading social change.

However, had these men been our neighbors, we would have severely criticized them. Starting by calling them losers, jobless or just plain selfish.

What was wrong with their perfect lives? Why couldn’t they shut up be grateful?  Why did they – eventually – take up unpaid jobs that would bring hardship and sorrow to the people they loved the most? Did the boredom of living in comfort screw them up?

Or was there something more to life than the obvious?

“When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Water droplet in a pool of water Right now

I just. Hate. Writing.

I barely made it half way. The words sound like shit even in my head. I feel like I'm vomiting every step into this novel because I write down everything that pops into my head. I don't ferment the words in my head. Words that do not ferment will fail miserably at seducing and altering minds.

The same goes with my blog. I skipped posting dates. I haven't written anything in weeks. I don't know if you've noticed. I don't know if you actually felt relieved. Have you? Do you actually read?

Do these articles mean anything to anybody out there? Does it matter whether or not I write?

Frustration piled that at some point last week my head froze. The dialog halted at mid-sentence. I went into a verbal paralysis, and said "Khalas. Fuck you nano, yuck fou Hning. I'm done."

Before

A month ago, I was in Ubud. For lunch, I sat with a girl named Mary. That’s basically all that I know about her because it was the only time I met her. She could have been a fairy, for all I knew was that we were just a couple of tired volunteers; irrelevant and unfamiliar with each other.

Insulting the silence, I said, "Wouldn't it be nice if rocks could talk back?"

And Mary said, "What if you know that it is nice, and you know that it is the right thing to do, but you can't do it because you're not familiar with it?"

Is it reasonable, Mary, to expect fluency at unfamiliarity?

"You mean you can't suddenly be good at something, no matter how much your heart wants it?"

Then I said something to Mary that – to my alarm - made her cry with abandon. With nothing else exchanged between us, not even an explanation; she poured quietly, shamelessly, messily.

As if failures were forgiven. Hopes renewed. Or burdens relieved.

Before, Before

Few months ago, Aysha K wrote a blog article that I don't remember what it was about. The title, though, stuck. The title was the phrase – the wonderful idea – that made Mary in Ubud cry.

The phrase reminds me why I still write in this silent blog. With very little feedback. With very little resources or guidance on where I'm going from here.

The phrase, the title that Aysha K. used in that post, assures me that it doesn't matter if only one phrase is caught. It doesn't matter if it's only one article that sticks. Or if any of this is really doing anybody any good.

Because some day it will. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far it travels, some of these words will do some good. Some day, these words will ripple - like how Aysha's title traveled to Ubud - reaching the right people - like Mary - and ease some burdens and pardon some mistakes and renew some hopes.


Even a little. Ever so brief. These words will do (have done) their job.

All I have to do is write them down.

"Faith is a muscle."

"Any event is welcome in prison, even the threat of cerebro-spinal meningitis and unpleasant needle jabs." ~ Wole Soyinka

Angels Detail After the Sistine Madonna by Raphael

Adam and Eve were miserable in heaven. They didn’t need to work or earn a living or fight over bills. They had everything they could ever imagine provided for them. They didn’t have a life purpose. THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A TO-DO LIST.

I think our first parents were bored the hell out of their minds!

So bored that I don’t think Adam needed much convincing. It might have actually went like this:

“Eve, let’s invent a sport where we can kill for fun!”

“Dude, you wouldn’t even pluck a Cherub's feather!”

“That’s only because…oh forget it! Come on, let’s do something, ANYTHING! How about chasing the Wildan? Or vandalizing all the gates? Swim in the booze river? Let’s do it against the stream to make it harder!”

“Oh, go stuff yourself with a fruit! Stuff a forbidden fruit if you must, but leave me – AND MY HAIR - in peace.”

“………”

“What?”

“You know something? I think I might.”

“What? Adam? Adam! NO!”

I don’t know about you, man, but having everything provided for you can be nice in the first couple of days, months and years. Wait, maybe for 2.5 years - at most. Then it gets unbelievably boring.

Seriously, boredom is a natural hunger for stimulation. Hence, hunger of any kind motivates. Inspires. Sparks. Let’s be grateful for things we DON’T have.

“The guilty catch themselves” ~ Proverb

 Photo by Marili Forastieri

“M’Lord, I am a married woman who’ve committed adultery, I beg you to bequeath my consequence.”

And his heart sank, for what parent could bear a child’s self-appointed doom? “You needn’t cometh, child,” said the Messenger, “for there were no witness testifying, nor have you been required to.”

“M’Lord,” she insisted, “I have committed an irreversible sin, for I carry that burden within me.”

“Then you shall leave and care for the life within you, for a child yet to be born is innocent and has a right to live.”

Hence the woman left.

Months later, the woman returned. Uninvited, self-appointed, by her own will and on her own feet, with an infant child in her arms.

She said, “M’Lord, I am a woman who hath committed adultery, and herein lays the the living proof to my sins.”

The Messenger’s heart sank deeper. For what parent could bear a child’s self-appointed doom? Gravely, the Messenger responded, “You needn’t cometh. A child in your son’s age needs to be loved and fed from your bosom. Go home and tend after your child’s needs. For his survival necessitates yours, whether or not there is a point to be made or a heartbreak mended.”

Thus she left again.

Years went by, in which campaigns cycled; religions’ spread. In which men had died and others were born. In which memories were erased and faults forgiven.

But a woman scorned would not forget, would not forgive, and - with a heart of stone - would rather not live. The adulteress, from the depths of a father’s dread, returned FOR A THIRD TIME. This time, she presented a robust, healthy and upright toddler.

“M’Lord,” she said, “This is the proof of my sin, able to feed himself and walk a path of his own. He lives on, and so hath my sorrow and shame. If I’ve managed to keep the reminder of my sins alive, then - by God, Prophet – either you free me from this burden or be accounted for a suicide.”

And for her the Messenger’s heart broke, “Have you no reasons enough to live? Have you no reason enough to let bygone be bygone?”

“Reason enough not to kill myself, my Liege. Reason enough to consult you. I have lived in wrong, and would have lost my way again, so the least I can do to amend, is dying in right. Can’t you see the rejection I have for a life betrayed, despite sanity and maternity?”

Hence the father, who could not bear his child’s living misery in spite of worsening his own, replied, “Then all shall be well, my child.”

"Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures." ~ Samuel Johnson

Ark, 2004 (acrylic on canvas) There was time when sex and reproduction posed as an existential threat to all: When the entire population, humans and animals alike, were stuck on a single, dingy, barely-afloat boat. With no shore in sight, as thunderous skies clapped; snuffing every hope of sunlight.

The captain of the ship ordered a decree, applicable to all the passengers of his overloaded ship: “NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED UNTIL THE SHIP DOCKS! We can’t afford the extra weight. If this ship sinks, we’re done for it!”

Naturally, at the risk of sinking the entire chain of evolution, everyone refrained from canoodling. Pious or not, begrudgingly or relieved, the sexes segregated and a silence fell in the divide.

For what could possibly be more interesting than talking about sex on a doomed ship?

Anyway, nine weeks later, and right under the captain’s nose, a handful of kittens and puppies chased each other on the ship’s deck. “Hmm, that’s odd,” thought the captain, “I don’t remember bringing more than a pair of adult cats and dogs on board. Where did…no, wait…PROPHETIC OATHES!!”

Hence, for risking the survival of their fellow passengers, cats and dogs since then were cursed to copulate aloud, shameless and publicly, for ever and ever and after.

"It is no good casting out devils. They belong to us, we must accept them and be at peace with them." ~ D. H. Lawrence

devil in flamesIn case you’re out trick-or-treating, ghostbusting, or just interested in demon repelling, keep these items in mind or on your person as precautionary measures against demons.

Repellants

  • Rice. If it works on newlyweds and Japanese demons, it might work elsewhere. If rice on its own fails, it might still work as bait for the next demon repellent. Which is..
  • Roosters. There’s a saying that a roosters are able to see beyond the ultraviolet range (which is also why they’re so punctual in the morning). Since demons are ultraviolet sensitive, rooster cockling might trick them into thinking that it’s almost morning.
  • Ultraviolet flashlights. The reason why demons don't like the sun or ultraviolet ray is because the were created from fire, hence, are closer to the infrared range. The logic says that infrared do not sit very well with ultraviolet light, you see? I’d love to know why.
  • Cleanse. Demons like “dirty” stuff, like pigs, porn, bodily oils and blood. As much as I’d like to cross this one out, cleansing your soul’s temple, helps NOT only with hygiene, but also the insides of your head. Because your head is, after all, where all forms of evil begins.
  • Garlic. Herbalists agree that garlic has purifying qualities. It reduces carcinogenic compound, eases digestion, improves vascular circulation, and does some fancy antibacterial actions. Sociologists agree with herbalists, in a way that garlic also repels social interaction. Including those with demons, I guess.
  • A prayer (that you trust). Dude, in the face of a demon, you’d barely remember your name. Saying “SEASONAL 80% DISCOUNTS AT SOGO!” is as good as any.
  • Heavy metal. Haven’t you seen it in the movies? Demon worship, when done right, don’t usually play cool music in the background. Worship of any kind, whether to a god or a demon, usually comes with operatic, repetitive chants. So, yeah, play that Elvis record to your heart’s content.

For extra safety, know that these enchant demons.

  • Fire and smoke. Demons were made of fire, it’s their natural element. Incense is burned and the smoke allures them. How often have you smelled a scent that makes you wonder if the wearer is trying to attract mates, predators or demons?
  • Group chants. Do I need to say more, after that eerie feeling and mass hysteria?
  • Twilight. The minutes when the sun sets is the peak of any demon’s day. No more ultraviolet rays! No more offensively dressed corporate drones! Yay!
  • Hallucinogens. Demons play with the head. Hallucinogens play with the head. The things illusions you see when you’re stoned? It’s quite possible that they’re real. So don’t.
  • Temptation. The 7 deadly sins. The 10 Commandments. The gorgeous sales girl/boy at the mall. Hmmm. 

PS: There are 2 ways to handle temptation.

  1. You avoid it all together. Risk being called a hermit, uptight and unsociable.
  2. You go for it. If there's anything more malicious than temptation, is the schemes that surround it. Satiety clears the head, dude. Get over it already, and stop bragging.
  • Tabloids. Just kidding, I meant gossip. With no further explanation, if you please. I’ve already gathered enough demons by writing this much about them. Haha.

Happy Halloween!

"I like funerals. All those flowers—a full life coming to a close." ~ Beryl Bainbridge

The 14th Dalai Lama meets the young reincarnation of one of his main spiritual teachers, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991). For the photographer, this image symbolizes the ever-flowing loving kindness and compassion that characterizes the fourteenth Dalai Lama.

Never was there a society that was delusionally content with life as those who maintain an intimate relationship with the dead.

The Remains

  • Ancient Egyptians and Peruvians mummified the dead.
  • Westerners compete with Egyptian pyramids in matters of preservation of the dead’s remains: elegy recitations, epitaphs on tombstones, gardens of catacombs, tombs and crypts erected.
  • Balinese Hindus bury, unbury and then Ngaben (burn) the dead.
  • The Torajans hang up their dead on a cliff. 
  • The Parsis in the Arctic and some folks in Kintamani, Bali, expose the dead to normal weather conditions.
  • There’s a particular kind of people who EAT the dead in Papua, inheriting wisdom and strength.

The Memories

  • Alhallows, or Halowmas, or Halloween, or Day of the Dead is a mixture of Pagan rituals, Roman Catholicism and native American tradition, established to honor and purify the spirits of the dead.
  • Jews offer shivah, a rite that lasts for seven days straight.
  • The Confucius and Shinto gather the ashes after cremating their dead, to conveniently pack and pray to the ancestors at home, everyday.
  • The Voduns ask the dead for cures and guidance.
  • The Buddhists and Hindus, don’t really die, they just to reincarnate to other forms and do the thing all over again. Those who are left without knowing where their parents and loved ones have reincarnated, still honor their dead with pictures adorned with flowers.
  • The Javanese and Mexicans are very romantic with their dead. There are the 3 days of mourning, 7th day, 40th day, 100th day, and finally the 1000th day since passing. Afterwards, the graves are visited every year on Eid and Day of the dead, or “nyekar” and “El Día de los Muertos”.

The Gifts

  • Sufis and mystics believe that the dead are abound to us by mention and prayer: They’ll hear you mentioning them from the other side.
  • On Samhain’s eve, marking the end of harvest year, in which the Celtic Druids offer drink and food to roaming spirits.
  • The Shinto and Confucius burn fake money for the dead to buy luxuries in the afterlife. booze on the tombstone or sea (wherever the dead rests) to drink with them.
  • Latin Americans, when they open a fresh bottle of drink, the first sip always goes to the ground, where the dead lay rest.
  • Plenty of Muslims believe that good deeds can be shifted to the dead. And money, ah that, a debt in life is a debt in death. The dead do not move on until all his debts are settled or pardoned.

The barriers between the dead and living seem to thin with rituals; and death loses it’s tragic finality. Since there has not been a lot of evidence to PROVE WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE DEAD, we make do with what we have.

For grief that is addressed; makes life – again - bearable.

"Worse than any loss of limb is the failing mind," ~ Juvenal

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-91)

The Lord once threatened said “And you shall be reversed to a childlike state”, whereas His prophet called it أرذل العمر – the worst age that befalls upon man. When a beloved elder fails to recognize her children from across a cloud of degenerative ocean. It’s an especially scary thought nowadays; since it’s so easy to be mentally numb with so much reality TV and internet and not enough coffee.

How do we maintain mental health in old age? A tip from the psychology textbooks: Read. A tip from the holy books: Meditate. While reading engages the mind, the other puts it in an unnatural state of calm.

Are those tips in conflict?

If we use our bodies as allegory, a balance is required between eating, working and sleeping to prolong relative, physical health. So, if the contents of our heads controls everything that happens in our bodies, isn’t it ever the more important to balance between mind’s needs for nutrition, productivity and recuperation?

For one, I’ve never heard of an elderly monk who lost his pebbles; whether to depression, Alzheimer or stroke. I have heard, though, of plenty writers and thinkers who did. Iris Murdoch lost to Alzheimer. Hemingway and Woolf to depression. And Nietzche to what may have been cow madness.

Perhaps, while vigorous mental activity keeps the mind at an active state of growth, food and exercise sustains it, while mental rests refuels that growth.

Then again, do we have turn into monks and live to monasteries to have the dignity of awareness in old age? You tell me.

While keeping in mind (oh, pardon the irony) that there is a difference between going into a vegetative blank and resting the mind. This is the intellect we’re talking about, not an excuse for a nap.

PS: We’ll update this post with your ideas, readers. Like how we did here.



Aneyeonsaudi said...

With all this going on around us and our persistence to keep up, this is a very interesting topic. I was whispering to myself the other day that ‘If I will not sleep some more hours per day, I am going to totally lose it.’ The problem is that I, and I believe we all, never learn. I might sacrifice my sleeping time for a good read, an interesting website, or even a captivating movie!
The magic formula of being sane for an extended period of time needs two participants:
- The body by eating well, working out and sleeping.
- The mind by reading, thinking and meditating.

Thank you for reminding us that we might be old sometime!



Coralbead said...

I believe that taking care of one's self at a young age has something to do with not going through second childhood later on. As kids and teenagers, we live on potato chips, burgers, and coke,watch TV nonstop, stay up late regularly and it goes on till adulthood, until our bad habits catch up with us in middle age.

We don't have to be nuns or monks to live an awareness-filled life in our old age.

Incidentally I personally know a 90 year old who still plays a good game of tennis and he could easily wear out opponents 30 years younger than him. He's not a total vegetarian; he doesn't smoke or drink, and he's what I call an "intellectual treat" to be with. It's just a matter of making the right life choices and striking a balance in everything.



What MuSe Sphere said was funny...

I always envy monks, of their calm nature, reaction, attitude and everything and I think it need a lot of effort to get to where they are, so the least they deserve is that for their brains to be safe and fine. I need their everything cuz I'm about to lose my mind while I'm not at my worst age yet :)


What Diana said was, er...

Its not becoming a nun or monk that's stopping me from being the healthy well-rested ideal of a human being. Its the thought that I might just have to be like everyone else. Sleeping at the same time and the same number of hours as everyone else.

For what is the struggle of a writer except to be the one that stands out? And how else to achieve that than being awake when everyone else is not? Especially when the writing is just not enough.

“God created man in his own image,” – Genesis 1:27 young hands linked with senior hands The main difference between male and female characteristics happens due to hormonal levels. Estrogen grows boobs and softens the voice, testosterones makes macho man. Naturally, hormonal level differences are most obvious in childbearing years.

In the years where humans do not produce offspring (ages 0 – 11 years and 50 – kaput), testosterones and estrogen levels become almost equal. This is why man boobs develop and Viagra is required. Due to andropause and menopause, sexual lines blur.

Psychologically, with the cessation of fucking-hormone, the attention shifts to other parts of well-being. From the satisfaction of physical needs, to the catching up of mental awareness. This is why elders are considered wise and usually have better control of their upper heads.

Sexually speaking, the average middle-aged is not a man or a woman. He and she is either both or neither.

Like God.

Melted red ice bar

Romantic love only lasts 30 months, at best.

“…based on 5,000 interviews across 37 cultures and medical tests on couples, challenge the romantic ideal, suggesting instead that men and women are biologically and mentally predisposed to be "in love" for only 18-30 months. That is just long enough for a couple to meet, mate and produce a child.” [source]

After 2.5 years (24 + 6 months = 2.5 years), love hormones balance itself out. Bills, arguments, boredom, car pools and other issues will snuff out every surviving butterfly and afterglow. After 30 months from the first fall, people will outgrow romantic love.

This is all good news to me, you see? To know that the discomfort and inconvenience and the ups-and-downs of the penis romance are tagged with an expiration date. To see a romantic fool’s head straightened!

One might argue, that some folks love longer than hormones. And I say, YES, while we all agree that it’s not hormonal passionate love!

In fact, the most common justification to why people who do not love each other insist on staying together and endure children and boredom and mortgage is called marriage; a promise kept.

the universe in a shell

The universe, and everything within, is summarized in a single book,

The summary of that Book, is found on the first page, the first Surah

That surah, “Al-Fatiha”, is summarized in the Basmalah;

Which is summarized in the first word, Bismillah,

Which boils down into the first letter “ب”

Which is summarized in the dot that is beneath that letter: “ .

The universe, and everything within, is just a bunch of dots

,,, connected.

 * Mistranslated from Serat Centhini.

"Every one of my books have killed me a little." ~ Norman Mailer

National Geographic

He asked;

What did you get from Ubud?

If he wasn’t oh-so-slightly condescending in his tone, I might have happily answered the Timekeeper. “I got you a ceramic teapot! I got Inong a sarung. I got a tan. I got…” – and I would have insulted his intelligence and would never be allowed to travel by myself ever again.

You’re never an adult in the eyes of your own parents and tutors, man, no siree.

The Timekeeper didn’t want simple answers. It was a TRICK QUESTION because what he actually meant was “What have you learned from a week in Bali that you couldn’t have learned in two years of living with me and our wall-to-wall book collection?” - Because that trip to Ubud was under his holy permission, you see?

What Ubud Puffy Festival was about;

I couldn’t resist the temptation to sniff atSeno Gumira’s graying locks and inhale Wole Soyinka’s breath. It’s a changing moment when you smell beer and two-days of expensive pillowcase off mythical demigod famous and Nobel Prize winning writers. (But hey, after Obama, hmm.)

I wanted to be unstarstruck. I wanted to see writers in the flesh so that I can identify with a writers’ humanity. What genes to they have that I don’t?! How could they, and I couldn’t?

After a few days of seeing writers mingling with wannabes, the stardust wore off and the half-expected disappointment took place. It's easier to be cynical when you see how normal and tired and old and bored full-fledged writers are. Ever read stories by Hari Kunzru, Angelo R. Lacuesto or Nelden Djakababa? No? That's okay.

۩๑๑๑۞๑๑๑۩

So, while I wasn't sinking into the possibility I might never make it as a writer anything, there's still the Timekeeper to answer to.

There's still the horror that the time and money and friends made and conversations exchanged in Ubud – for a WEEK, yessir - might have piled up into nothing but a scratch on my royal wannabe butt.

What I should’ve said;

Soyinka was asked; in what way that imprisonment for his work had effected him. The old man rolled his eyes and said “It didn’t.”

In return, Seno once compared writing with carpentry, that writing as layman as any other kind of job. Nothing to brag about. Nothing to feel ashamed of.

Seno and Soyinka summed up the writer’s curse. That a writer just does what he had to do. And if he had to do anything else, he probably wouldn't be any good at it.

That it doesn’t matter whether or not you get paid and published for giving birth to a half-good book or blog articles. Writers are supposed to break their glass ceilings and expectations, because writing is just another demanding, annoying, unforgiving slab of stone or unholy child. Writers are supposed to write for the sake of writing. To have the story told.

Prosecution, jail terms, ashes of failure and obscurity – well, damn those uninsurable job hazards.

۩๑๑๑۞๑๑๑۩

Unfortunately, by the time the answer took form, the Timekeeper was already busy receiving his guests and I didn’t have anyone to answer to anymore.

Which is why I had to take my seat and…write it down.

“The whole (global warming) thing is created to destroy America's free enterprise system and our economic stability” ~ Jerry Falwell (American fundamentalist Baptist Pastor and Founder of the Moral Majority. b.1933)

Planet Earth

Global = Overwhelming

Global warming is a fad. A mass hysteria. And has nothing to do with me.

You may throw rock and stones at me, but I know that you agree.

I tend to be suspicious over things that cause so much fuss on global stages. Like poverty, or formal education or heaven and hell. It is hard to understand our relationship with an issue that has gotten so big that it reached Al Gore. What could Al Gore have in common with a poor blogger living in the middle of nowhere? How could global warming have anything to do with the average Jane and John Doe, carelessly trying to keep up with mortgages?

Besides, aren’t the major villains of global warming are the same as the villains to everything else gone vulgar in the world; the rich and industrious? Blame it on the US, China or India. Blame it on corporate and non-human business. Get over it and let us spend our Sunday/Friday/Sabbath afternoons on things that we actually do enjoy.

Okay? There. Done. We’ve cleared our conscience and ignored the elephants. Now, what’s the next item on the agenda?

Who the fuck cares?

If you’ve managed to keep reading, we will agree that it’s EASIER to swerve from compassion than to care.

Global warming is out of our control. Compromising the little privileges we have is much less convenient than staying within our comfort zones. For mother earth’s sake, why should you bother carrying your own shopping bag if they’re freely available in the supermarket? Why change nuts and bolts if the system works? Who the megalomaniac fucks are we to think that we can make a difference on global cooling?

Let’s hold that thought a bit, because I’m gonna ramble about a memory from first grade. Something about the Day of Judgment and the Sun being a stretch away above our heads.

Theorize

One of the scariest images the Day of Judgment was my First Grade teacher holding a ruler at her arm’s stretch, above her head. “This is how close the sun is going to be on the day of Judgment,” she said, “And only nice kids can fit under the cool shade of God’s Throne.”

Tickets to that VIP shade are only sold to those who observe worship, avert temptation, are charitable in silence, meditate in reverence and so on and so forth. Basically, everything that the average Jane and John Doe are not; from the opinion of any religious version.

But, since you’ve managed to read this far, I’ll assume that you care about global warming, skin complexions, or your chances under the shade of some majestic throne on a mystical day that doesn’t seem to come.

I’ll assume, that whether or not you want shade tickets, you still seek betterment and improvement in your cards. No matter how late. No matter how small.

But to change your lifestyle for the sake of the environment?! WHOM ARE WE KIDDING?!

Assimilate

As selfish as it sounds, we can only care about things that matters to us directly. Which is what Blog Action Day is really about: an awareness campaign. Awareness about what you eat and how you spend. Awareness on daily behavior and thoughts. Awareness on crap management. Awareness of the self.

Awareness is the by-product (or sister company?) of yoga, meditation, reverence and temperance. All of which are part of any good spiritual system.

All of which, by the way, are tickets to the Holy Shade, delicately assorted on an environmentally-friendly palette. Huzzah.

Regurgitate Simplify

I used to think that it’s my ADHD that’s making me think that what's less, simpler and minimalist is better. God bless ADHD on making it natural for me to be bland and boring. Haha.

Environmentally speaking, less is better. Less plastic, less anger, less money, less houses, less children, less clothes, less problems. Less make up and hair. Less time spent inside your head. Less talk. Less smoke. Less…

How about less traffic? Less achievements? Less goals?

Yeah, those too. We’re supposed to be biodegradable, you see? It’s complications that makes us resistant to natural cycles of life. Complications, like pride and vanity. Like choosing casket over cotton. Like the tendency to show off and demonstrate. Complications, darling, is what forces ghosts to linger in the uncomfortable state of shouldn’t-be-there.

Nobody ever said that simple is easy or gratis. Having it lighter on the heart, lighter on the forget-and-forgive process, costs hugely on social and sensual pleasures. For a couple of seconds away from (self-)judgment’s scorching sun, being kinder to the environment is tough. That sun, which is only the eye of guilt, slowly burning an unlovely tan to ignored causes and desensitized hurts.

Soothe

It’s not silly to hope and sing for a better place to live in. It’s not pointless to try. No matter how tuneless is your song, no matter how small is your heartfelt effort, may it cool your conscience from sorrow and guilt.

It’s okay if you only switch one light bulb off, restrain from eating one exported meal, or look funny in your locally made belongings. Whatever goodness you aim for, may it soothe your sores on days when you can't even look at yourself in the mirror. Amen.

After all, it doesn’t matter who the villains are. We’re all in this boat together.


Apologia Footnote:

I may have offended some family members by simplifying too much, even at emotional levels. This is me apologizing for not going to my brother’s wedding in Jeddah (Nine hours plane trip for a party? One-way? You’re kidding, right?). This is me apologizing for not wanting to have children because they can distract and enchant me away from my hut and meditation. This is me living in the middle of nowhere, boring my tastebuds to shrivels, single-mindedly unmarried, for the sake of keeping things severely stripped.

I wish I could blame ADHD for everything again.

"Pylons, those pillars
Bare like nude giant girls that have no secret."

~ Stephen Spender

Nudists Sunbathing

Either that we are too uptight, or that getting naked is an underrated kind of awesome.

Imagine a tight-knit community of naked people living together. Would members of such society be fucking around like bunnies; with the stiff linga prodding from one open yoni to the next?

No.

In fact, the rate of sex crimes in nudist communities is lower than the well-dressed society. [And by the way, Nudist have sex the same way the rest of us do: IN PRIVATE.]

Maybe because SEX is the last thing in a nudist’s mind, before joining a naked group of people. Maybe with sex out the way, blood is redistributed from the nether regions to other (more productive?) areas of the body.

Like your brain. Your hands. Your cheeks.

To an extent, this explains the Islamic paranoia concerning Temptation’s spell upon dating couples. Why sex-segregated communities are more hyper-sexed than the liberal. Remember when Cellphones equipped with Bluetooth and FASADBOOK got the haraam Label of Disapproval?

Maybe nudity starts with the obvious. Like body language. Or communication. Like writing too much. Or too little. Secrets of the flesh is the least of our worries, when the stink of sin reeks much deeper than what the senses can reach.

So, how about it? Shall we get naked now?


Unlike any other room I’ve ever been, my room in Ubud smelled faintly of dog shit. I arrived at dusk, when the sickly half-light blanketed everything with sober gloom, along with the day’s dying. I was awfully tired, miserably hungry and started smelling of dog-poop myself. The combination of all the above cooked up a rounded, well-feared sense of loneliness.

The odds were either to be safe and secure in a closed environment, or to don my street gear and thug mask to satiate a more basic, more savage need. I’M STARVING!! So I stuffed my pocket with Rp200’000 ($20) bills and stepped into darkness.

The sight of the foreigners on the street was strangely comforting. If they can walk, why can’t a frightened native-looking girl walk by herself, WITHOUT GETTING RIDICULOUSLY ANNOUNCED DEAD OR MUGGED ON THE NEWSPAPER TOMORROW?

I passed an overly-lit restaurant interiors, guessing overly-priced food. You can’t maintain a hefty electric bill if you don’t keep up a hefty food price, you see? Yet I was too spent to seek too far, so the second reasonably-lit restaurant was as far as my body could humor my thrift.


It was an Indian restaurant.

The waitress startled me browsing the menu at the door. A standardized procedure to trap probable guests, and partially to rest her own anxieties, a gentle way of saying: “ARE YOU GONNA EAT HERE OR NOT?”

The waitress was brusque and slightly impatient. I told her I needed rice and didn’t want meat. She snapped, “Then you’ll stop wasting my time and eat vegetable curry,” before leaving me in solitude again.

Solitude rang in my head like a persistent migraine, or toothache. When was the last time I was so solitary? It must have been years since the last time I had to brave eating alone. It has been that long since I left Sigli; the most alone I’d been on an island.

I took out my notebook and started writing. Writing makes a lovely company, a kindly sponge to absorb the echoes of loneliness and runny stupid. Writing distracts the ache; sublimated in a one-way (or imagined?) conversation.

“How are you feeling right now?” asked my notebook.

Fucking miserable and homesick. That’s what I’m fucking feeling, you fucking fake therapist.

The waiter came back throwing two metal pans on my table. *DUGH* *DUGH* sounds the rice and curry made on my table. Shaking my pen to a halt; ARE YOU GONNA EAT THIS OR NOT?

What is it with anxious waitresses anyways?


And eat I did.

I think the food was demonic. It didn’t just possess me. It immediately catapulted me from static melancholy to shameless hogging.

The first serving splashed my taste buds, my larynx, my nose, my EARS, down to my Buddha belly with life. OH EAT YOU I SHALL! *NOM.NOM.NOM* And whoosh was how quickly it disappeared from my plate.

See? Demons do disappearing acts too.

The second serving made me delirious. How could so much pleasure manifest in HALAL food? THERE’S GOTTA BE A CATCH! Nevertheless, gardens of spice flourished on every layer of consciousness. Over and over I sang, “Ammu, Ammu, oh Lord in Heaven and Mothers of YUMMY,  Thou hath resurrected and proven to me that heaven doth exist. How could I doubt Thee if you’ve manifested Your Selves in all Your might and glory on this plate I’m served with today.”

I slowed down to caution by the third serving. If heaven and the God’s glory was eternal, than hunger was not. The food was running out, satiety was closing in. I forced myself to slow down to make note and remember and obsess about every individual taste bud’s experience. The food was cooler, and awareness gently called. A cardamom popped in my mouth. Beads of pepper kicked. Ginger stung. Masala curled. Laces of cumin caressed while saffron danced.

Then love, LOVE, oh orgasmic love shuddered in the arrival of sublime and undeniable ecstasy.


Didn’t I tell you that writing distracts?

There was a naughty curry smudge resisting my fork, at the bottom of the bowl. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, my dignity warned. I licked it off anyway, before pushing EVERYTHING away, lit my cigarette and stuffed my face in my notebook again.

Failing to hide the obvious, unembarrassed afterglow.

I thanked God and all Mothers of Spice that satiety, as much as hunger, isn’t eternal. At least I know that I can shudder with earthly pleasures eat here again, tomorrow.

Oh, and the proud waitress was a lot warmer when I spoke to her in my sultriest voice, “Enak sekali.”

That was good.

"I do not intend to prejudge the past." ~ William Whitelaw

Women praying for the return of pilgrims to Mecca, Indonesia, Java, Cirebon

Javanese Muslims in rural Java are strange. Most of them don’t understand Arabic. Most of them don’t have physical proof of God. And yet their unquestioning piety is astounding. Being called “Hajji/Hajjah” is something they spend their entire lives and savings for. No matter how poor.

Recently, the Muslims in Aceh passed the practice of stoning as legal sanction. I barely a year spent there, so it’s hard to confirm; but regressing to modern day stoning could give you an idea why anybody would give up TRYING with the Acehnese.

Islam in Java is woven into the culture, practiced with the kind of obedience that reminds me of cattle herds. A lot Javanese Muslims belong to a tariqah; a sufistic order and collectivistic in their religious practice.

Islam in Sumatra is practiced with rigid brutality as in Saudi in the 80s. Either you believe, or fake it, or be stoned. A lot Sumatran Muslims are Muhammadiyahs, the Indonesian version of Wahhabism.

Does it explain anything to you if you knew that Islam in Java was spread through storytelling, shadow puppets and plenty of mind boggling myths and legends?

Does it explain anything to you if you knew that Islam in Sumatra was spread with bloodletting? That the Paderi Wars stabbed conviction into every animist, man, woman and child. That my great-great-grandmother fled to Java carrying horrors about women folks being forced to witness their men beheaded, after being publicly raped. For objecting Paderi-advocated reforms.

By the men in white thobes and turbans.

Do methods of teaching define practice?

"Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience." ~ Francis Bacon

Departure Lounge

You know you can survive anywhere in Bali just with a little bit of haggling skills?

There are decent, AIR CONDITIONED lodgings as cheap as $10/night in Bali. Low living-cost is one of the reasons why Bali’s becoming my favorite hideaway (this is my second trip this year), beside being gorgeous and easy-going and cultured. I would’ve lived there forever. But I WON’T because my favorite kretek cigarette is not sold in Bali. WHAT IS THEIR PROBLEM?!!! THEY CAN SELL WOODEN PENISES AND NOT DJARUM COKLAT?

Anyway, yeah, I’m heading back to Bali to kiss ass strike my stars volunteer on Ubud Writers Festival.

I’ve never done this before. Beside being in a "Writer's Haven", I’m not sure what I’m signing up for. I have no idea where I’ll be sleeping or who’ll share my plate. Come to think about it, the only thing I’m sure about is this one way ticket from Jakarta to Bali.

The rest? A massive blur.

Which is the idea behind traveling, right? Enjoy elements of shock…in the company of a healthy debit card.

It’s cool. It’s not like I’m going abroad or anything. In fact, I should be back in Jatibarang by Monday, October 19th. You know, to brag.

I’ll see you ‘round.

"Only before the eyes of God can the human body remain nude and uncovered while fully conserving its splendor and beauty." ~ Pope John Paul II

The Birth of BacchusIs nudity dirty? Nah.

Nudity can sometimes be divine and sacred. In classical art, nudity depicts power, purity or both. You’d see naked gods, saints and martyrs as central figures in paintings and statues. Unabashed by neither vulnerability or divinity. Rating the Louvre as child-UNFRIENDLY attraction, FOR ALL ETERNITY.

Even if the art displayed images of gods. Even if man was created in the image of God. Even if the human flesh is forever sacred.

[Museums, to some of our nudity-sensitive Muslim parents, are another gate to hell, you see?]

•.¸¸.•´¯`•.♥.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.♥.•´¯`•.¸¸.•

For a while, nudity equaled pagan (kafir). And you know where pagans in monotheist religions end up, right? Pagan rituals included deification of the yoni and linga (fertility festivals), partying all summer (Bacchus’ rituals), and – yeah – visiting museums to admire statutes and paintings (icon worship).

Avoiding the Pagan Stamp of Approval was one of the reason why the monotheist woman is covered from head to toe. Why the good Muslim, Christian and Jewish does not worship in the nude. Why Bernini dressed St.Therese’s Ecstasy and the Ludovica in marble habits, despite their inarguable piety. Partially because they wanted the church to be child-friendly.

I think it’s more because we are SO SEXUALLY REPRESSED TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CARNAL AND RELIGIOUS ECSTASIES.

•.¸¸.•´¯`•.♥.•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.♥.•´¯`•.¸¸.•

Then again, is there anything more tempting than a woman shrouded under veils of loyalty, piety and modesty?

Have you noticed, the allure that streaks the pious woman’s worship tempts both divine and earthbound? The purer she is, the sexier she gets in the eyes of man, demon and angel.

Hence, to have the religious monotheist woman walking around naked, would cause more traffic accidents than sustainable worship.

After all, worship is the safest place to bare our souls and selves, naked.

With our imperfections observed. And mortality honored.

“Every person is responsible for his own looks after 40.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

gettyimages.com

What we can’t change

Beautiful people are screwed.

They have better chances at landing jobs, maintaining social relationships and having lots and lots of children. More often than not, beautiful people are tricked into thinking being pretty is a reliable commodity. That they don't need to learn anything to fix a light bulb. Just flash them your perfectly orthodontized teeth, darling.

Don't be unkind. It's our fault too why blondes are so dumb. We’re to blame for their stupidity by overindulging their puppy dog eyes and sunshine hair and unblemished skins.

What will change

Remember what I said about palmistry?

We know that, on the long run, it doesn’t matter if you are gifted with the mask of golden proportions (1:1.618) or symmetry. While physical beauty fades with age (and this is a promise); personality becomes more prominent. The things we do, thoughts we carry and feelings we bear, mark our bodies.

Fuck cosmetics. No matter how beautiful you were in your 20s, cosmetics they can’t hide the contents of your heart in your 40s. Are you a frowner? A childlike goofball? A banker? Wrinkles, sickness, snobbishness, secrets. Dude, everyone knows.

Let’s just hope our skeletons are easier to look at.

What can we change?

Can we change hearts? Can we laugh more? Can we be happier? Can we forgive?

Damn thing is that we don’t have much time to reform our personalities. We only have until 40 to learn being kind, patient and goodhearted folks. That's a lot of goodness to learn practicing in such a short time. It's even harder than applying liquid eyeliner!

Why the rush? Because after 40, we'll be stuck with the frowning/miserable/thoughtful/patient/bitchmouth person that we've mostly been. IF we get to live that long.

"If you want to make a difference in the world, the single most important thing you can do is consciously and deliberately choose to do work that you are passionate about." [source]

Most of us don't want to change the world. Most of us just wants to be happy. And being happy does not require physical beauty. We can deliberately and consciously choose the load on our minds. Be selective about the things we obsess are passionate about. Do the things that will give room for joy to dance within. Hold on to things that are constant and reliable. Simple things, small things, light things.

Like a pen. Or secret. Or a tickle. Hihi.

makeroom

I hope you (have) enjoy(ed) your weekend.

 
Copyright © 2016 Hning's Asia All Right Reserved
Designed by OddThemes