Monday, February 26, 2018

The Poignant Tale of a Single Woman

I've had the urge to write an article on this topic for quite long, yet my conversation with a former student yesterday strongly and ultimately galvanized me to really make this happen.


Her name is, say, Rose (her real name is kept clandestine for privacy reasons). We were chatting via a very popular app which sounds like "What's up?" and after a while our discussion topic shifted to that which the chemicals in your brain would make an impression of when you hear Valentine's Day or Twilight.

However, instead of gentle caressing, warm hugs, or affectionate kisses, she told me a sort of appalling reality she had had to face. This is what she said in a gloomy tone (hope it won't make you cringe):

"We live in a world that is really evil to women. I am frustrated with the questions "When are you getting married?", "When will you follow (put a person's name here)?", etc. And when I didn't say anything, they wanted to introduce me to a guy.. It's like wtf?? Really exhausted."

I was joking; if you have a puckered face now, you are forgiven. Rose is actually single in the sense that she has a boyfriend but not married yet, but there are many people (men included) out there who are single in the more commonly referred-to sense – not possessing a partner – and are constantly, at any time, complaining for receiving such irksome treatment. This unfortunate social phenomenon is, I believe, alarmingly ubiquitous. On social media, it is not hard to find posts and comments containing related mockery (comedy Facebook pages Sarcasm and Be Like Bro are perfect exemplars of those making fun of single people in the latter sense).

The matter regarding one's relationship or marital status is truly, and in essence, none of others', even their parents', business. Sadly and depressingly, there is this widely held misconception that it is all right for other people to meddle. I kind of can symphatize with those people who want to cradle a grandchild as soon as possible, yet they must keep in mind that whether or not to have children is fully the decision of the would-be biological mother and father themselves. People hold the very right to choose when they will get married etc., and they should be free of such "terrorizing" words as what Rose got.

Getting married is not a race, as I said to Rose. Would parents want their child to choose the wrong person as their partner for the sake of face-saving or getting second-generation offspring in the shortest time possible? If they think so, I couldn't imagine how egotistical and mean they are, considering that they regard those things (especially the first one, which I think is nonsense) as more important than their child's genuine happiness.

It is to be remembered that there are a number of reasons why people are single. Some would like to get married but just haven't found the right partners yet – they do hope they will find their Mr./Miss Right, though. Others are not sure whether or not marriage is the right thing for them – we can call people of this type "on-the-fencers", suggesting their open stance on the matter. Then, there are those who have decided not to get married due to their own particular reasons. Perhaps, they have been hurt so much in their previous relationship that they find it impossible to move on and have a new one (pistanthrophobia). Or maybe they prefer to concentrate on their careers/business or devote their limited time on Earth to other interests, such as charity – the priests of the Catholic Church practice celibacy for this reason of serving God for His kingdom. Of course, we need to not forget those who have a boyfriend/girlfriend but haven't gotten married yet (like Rose). Probably they haven't tied the knot because of insufficient funds, or they are still finding out about their partners. And to my knowledge, there are people who enjoy being committed in a relationship rather than a marriage (this is especially common among Westerners).

I think the sort of attitude towards the "bullies" that singles need to adopt is the "why should you care?" one. However, ignoring the pesky askers or throwing "mind your own business" at them would be unwise and too rude an act, and it almost certainly will make you a highly dislikable figure in your family or friend circles. I completely realize that being involved in such a nosy & pushy conversation (especially if happens many times) is an example of "sad" things in life, since we couldn't predict (and decide) what kind of family and society we would be born into. However, a reality is a reality and we should handle it as well and smartly as we can. I am convinced that speaking in a soft, respectful tone is the best way to get out of this T. rex jaw situation. Nevertheless, one must make sure that they give a clear, to-the-point explanation. For example, to a "When are you getting married?" question, a single could reply, "To be honest, I don't know when I will get married. I don't have a boyfriend yet as I haven't found the right one for me, and I'm fine with it. I just let my life flow and I hope I will find my Mr. Right/him and get married at the right time." Bear in mind that this has to be stated in a firm and confident way in order to give the best effect possible.

If there is one lesson that can be drawn from this issue, it is that some (or many) people desperately need to become more mature (and less of a busybody) and pay more respect to others with regard to their privacy, to which they are fully entitled.

Thank you for reading this article and please share your thoughts and experiences regarding this matter in the comment section below!
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Friday, February 23, 2018

"Sad" Truths about Life

First of all, I don't have the intention to send any chills down your spine or take you to the deepest depths of sorrow. Instead I hope this post can bring readers to a realization of and/or emphasis on the veritable truths of life.


Let's begin by thinking of our fellow humans who were born in the 1840s, a period of time when British biologist & paleontologist Sir Richard Owen established a group of magnificent animals by bestowing the immortally impressive name Dinosauria, which means "fearfully great lizard", to those then-thought-of-as-extinct creatures. To the best of my knowledge, no-one arriving in this world during that decade is still alive today. I repeat: no-one.

What does this mean? Well, this phenomenon seems hardly any surprising but contemplating it could be fruitful in building a good and wise outlook on life. After experiencing a brief gust of life, they all crossed the threshold and stepped into the death realm, something that is inescapable to all beings, including us humans. The average human lifespan sits roughly in the region of 60–70 years. If you think about it, our time on Earth is mind-blowingly infinitesimal compared to the age of the planet itself: 4.6 billion years – let alone the unfathomably vast amount of time that has passed since the universe began: 14 billion years. I was born in 1990 and I'll turn 28 this coming April. Therefore, I have more or less 40 more years on this evolution-friendly planet, before I join the majority. The total moment that I possess to be in the presence of my beloved family & friends, gaze at my girlfriend's soothing smile, be stuck in awe at gorgeous views of foreign countries, tuck into luscious Quiznos subs and pizzas, peruse (in both senses) best-quality dinosaur and English books, indulge myself in Jay Chou's sublimely composed, timeless music, and so on and so forth, is only 40 Earth revolutions around the sun left. And then my body will unite with nature as it decomposes either on the ground or, if cremated, in the sea, by means of detritus feeders – if no-one doesn't want to balm or, in some way, preserve it. In any case, nobody will be able to see any parts of my physical and mental selves "move". What will remain is my legacy, which is made up of all the things I have printed on the globe (however good or bad they are): my words, speeches, acts, behavior, dinosaur painting, blog articles (like this one) and such. That's all. Klinsman is gone. If I am lucky.

If not, I will kick the bucket even sooner. Humans are vulnerable beings; we are susceptible to illnesses, diseases, and pestilences (Just a few days ago the mother of my elementary school friend passed away at the age of 55, presumably because of cancer. To name another few, there are diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, malaria, and Ebola.) Consequently, some people are so unfortunate that their lives have to end earlier than expected, perhaps abruptly. And then there exist those who have been suffering from some affliction since birth (or even before). Sadly, some may not be able to survive long after they leave the status of a newborn. I was organizing my files just now, and in the midst of it I went astray and came across this photo:

Santos and me
Santos was a cancer-surviving child. A few years ago I read about his needing blood transfusion via Blood For Life Indonesia's Twitter account, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to donate a small amount of mine (type AB) to him. Nevertheless, he eventually had to succumb to his leukemia and breathed his last.

I am writing this article in a restaurant in South Jakarta, and I am going home as soon as I finish it. Is there a guarantee that I will arrive home safely? (FYI, it is located nearby) No. Life is highly unpredictable. We humans are so so terrible at predicting the future, as American paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara put it in his book Why Dinosaurs Matter. I might have an accident on the way home while riding a Grab motorcycle. Some other driver might exhibit their inanity by showing how speeding is really cool (to their imbecilic mind). It is also not difficult to come up with other death-invoking things, one type of which is natural disasters, which can happen all of a sudden. (However, note that actually "sad" things are not necessarily related to death; lifetime (and short-term) suffering can also be immensely depressing – think of those who need to undergo dialysis all their lives, for example.) It might be unimaginably distressing to know you are going to die soon. Nonetheless, American neuroscientist Sam Harris makes a point worth pondering in his Big Think video on death that, to add another "sad" thing, if we outlive our loved ones, it means we will be left alone, without them by our side.

It is always now, as Sam said in this eye-opening video. The powerful message is that we need to live our lives to the fullest in the present moment. People often forget that now is the best time to be happy; the past has always passed and the future will never come. Do not wait and get rid of all the "if"s and "when"s to really enjoy and appreciate the present. If you love someone, express it. If you have a keen interest in a field of study, learn about it. Be crazy and never let yourself be bound by constraints that are slowly gnawing on your potential happiness, which you do deserve. Do what you want while you are alive and while you can; otherwise, you will regret and feel the real sadness of life.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

LDR

Happy Valentine's Day, readers! Yeah, it is such a coincidence that I'm writing this article about love on Valentine's Day, which is aptly (although not necessarily) represented by couples giving chocolates, candies, and the like, expressing this important and immortal quality of humanity. Before we go further, let me do a real quick check: do you know what 'LDR' stands for?


Although it might sound like the name of an organization (think of IBM, WHO, or BBC), 'LDR' is actually the abbreviation of 'long-distance relationship', in contrast to 'SDR', which is the short form of 'short-distance relationship' (honestly, I don't know whether the term 'SDR' legitimately exists or not and I am too lazy to do research by googling it *LOL*. I'm going to use it throughout the article as it sounds harmonic with its 'sibling'. *grinning*). As for the meaning, I don't think I'd have to expound it to you, as it is crystal-clear that 'LDR' refers to a relationship in which the lovers live far away, separated by long distances (well, that's a bonus for you). I believe that not many people have this kind of relationship, but some do. And, I am one of them. However, this article will not be focusing on my relationship with my overseas girlfriend, but rather it contains insights into an LDR, partly derived from my experience as a 'performer' of this life choice. Let's get started.

Most people in an LDR, by the very fact that they live thousands of miles from their loved ones, cannot frequently meet. And this is I think what most people would agree is the greatest challenge of living in an LDR. The feeling of missing between the lovers must be, to a great degree, deeper than that felt by SDRers, and it can literally bring them to the point of being extremely emotional. Tears rolling down the cheeks could be a common sight among LDRers. While SDRers can be in close proximity to their loves whenever they want (it is not necessarily true, but I'd say most of them would meet their partners at least once a week, typically on the weekend), long-distance 'fighters' have to have a huge supply of patience as they need to wait for ages before hugging and kissing their babies. Hugging and kissing. Right. Unlike SDRers, the encounters had by LDR couples typically do not outnumber (half of) your hand fingers, and it is plausible to think that this results in them doing the two affectionate acts many more at one time that their short-distance counterparts. However, as with other types of relationships, the primary recipe for success in an LDR is communication. The quality and quantity have to be maintained in such a way that the passion between the couple keeps on burning. Thanks to technology, now it is super easy to reach your beloved one, say, who is 1,000 miles away. Two of the apps that I recommend LDRers use for video calls are WhatsApp and Messenger. Although you can't really touch your partners via this kind of program, they are really helpful when it comes to having an LDR.

A friend of mine (a former colleague, if I'm not mistaken) once suggested that it would be economical to have an LDR since the couple meet much more rarely than SDRers. I would say that this might or might not be the case, depending on certain factors. LDRers may need to save up a lot for flight tickets; these could cost hundreds of dollars (I myself would need to pay approximately 110 USD for a round-trip flight ticket at a minimum). In addition, they might need to "make up for" what they would have done as an SDR couple: having fun at tourist attractions, having dinner, buying couple clothes, etc. I also heard this sort of notion that LDRers are prone to unfaithfulness, or that it is wiser not to be in an LDR as there is the insecure feeling that your partner will cheat on you. Well, I'd argue that SDRers also cannot escape the fact that there are also numerous opportunities for them to date another man or woman and break their romantic promise. I believe it is all rooted in commitment; it goes back to their very own heart. One won't be swayed into another's arm if they genuinely love their partner, whatever the situation is.

The last comment I would like to make is about the status of an LDR itself. I have the conviction that LDRs cannot go forever: ultimately, they need to transform into SDRs. So we might see an LDR as a stepping-stone into a more 'perfect' state of relationship, where a man or woman can be in full intimacy with their beloved one. As this is a very important matter, an LDR couple ought to discuss it seriously and decisively.

LDRs are not for the faint-hearted. It demands courage, perseverance, resilience, and, last but not least, commitment.

Are you in an LDR? Or do you know someone who is in an LDR? Please share your thoughts and/or experiences in the comments below!
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Quote #36

"Nothing should be immune to criticism, even the seemingly grandest, deeply established, and widely & highly respected ideas. Everything can be criticized, and should be criticized when necessary." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Quote #35

"Bigotry, in all its forms, is to be condemned and uprooted to its very essence." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Monday, February 5, 2018

Are We a Perfect Being?

The statement that we, humans (I believe no other organisms are capable of reading and understand this line), are a sort of creation that is impeccable, flawless, and the most majestic of all is ubiquitous. But do we really live up to the grandeur reputation that is passionately voiced in many, or even all, corners of the world?


The answer is "unfortunately" no. Let's probe into why this is the case.

Humans are living beings, just like other animals (I say "other" because we are animals), such as fish, iguanas, cats, dogs, and dinosaurs (birds included), as well as plants, which comprise those flowery stuctures making up your beautiful garden, if you do have one. All living things, including our little friends and foes bacteria, undergo a morphing process called evolution, that is gradual change in response to their environment for the sake of survival. In this harsh world, as we know and realize, sh*t happens, so not all individuals make it. Those who do not manage to continue their odysseys in this world are extinct, leaving the others with their "successful", selected traits. This phenomenon is known as natural selection, which, along with the theory of evolution, was proposed by British naturalist Charles Darwin in his 1859 seminal book On the Origin of Species.

Intermezzo: It is a real shame that the theory of evolution is still denied by many people, claiming that it is "just a theory." One must comprehend that scientists use the term differently from the hoi polloi, and we do have such an abundant amount of evidence pointing to the truth of evolution that it is unarguably, in everyday language, a fact.

Evolution has been going on ever since the first organisms appeared on Earth and the unfathomably deep passage of time that has passed by has resulted in the wondrous world we inhabit today, with the evolution-shaped, extraordinarily rich diversity of life spread all around it. It can be said that we are hyperlucky since we are some of the last remnants of life (shouldn't we be grateful?), those that represent the leaves on the tree of life or, in scientific terminology, phylogenetic tree.

All the individuals of the current life on this planet are "champions" in that we are the last bits of myriad unbroken chains that lead to the first ancestors of all living beings that have ever existed in the world, implying survival of mind-bogglingly immense magnitude. And all of us come with features that were left by our predecessors as a legacy. Modern humans have super complex brains and definitely are the most intelligent species on the globe. However, if you carefully examine the human body, many of the organs are not as "perfect" as people generally might think. Take the eye as an example. While it is true that our eyes are magnificent, they are not as remarkable as those of eagles, which can see four or five times farther than humans. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean eagles' eyes are "better" or "more perfect" than humans'; eagles' eyes evolved in that way because they are required for hunting prey, while humans do not need such visual acuity for their survival. Returning to the fabulosity of the human brain, our intelligence hallmark exists merely as a result of adaptation to our surroundings. This is also to say that we, including our brains, are still constantly evolving towards new trends as necessary – there is no such word or expression as "peak" or "end point" in the dictionary of evolution. In his best-selling book The God Delusion, British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins also enlighteningly points out that humans do possess infirmities caused by things such as lower back pain and prolapsed uteruses, owing to our upright stance after being in the quadrupedal mode for a vast swath of time.

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that Homo sapiens is a very successful species, and with our brain and, especially, I think, our social bonds and skills (among all the "strengths" we possess), we can make up for our "weaknesses". It would have been difficult for a single human to kill a mammoth alone, so he or she worked together to take it down. We couldn't swim like fish, so we came up with ships, scuba-diving apparatus, and the like. We couldn't fly as birds do, so we invented the airplane and similar things intended for navigating through the air. We even remain the only group of living beings capable of exploring the space. Humans, in a sense, are definitely a barrier-breaking species.

To add another argument against our "perfectness", it is useful to think that a number of members of our own species are born with diseases or abnormalities. Think of those cancer-suffering or limbless newborns, for example. Clearly, pathologies can occur at any point in our lives and this is, in fact, natural, as we ourselves are part of the natural world. Additionally, needless to say, we all eventually will come to a point called death.

So are we a perfect being? Well, as they say, nobody's perfect. ;)
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