Jumaat, 10 Mac 2017

2016 - A personal reflection

Photo by: Michael Juliano

I always thought of writing this blog as something others can relate, so this article will not collate all my past events for this year, but what I gain and learn from them, so it can be a beneficial lesson for you and me.

On Reading 

I've read 14 out of 20 books that I targeted this year, although I ended below my target, I am unapologetic about it. The practical reason for this under-achievement was time-constraint. My time is divided for family, day job, volunteer works, exercise, part time job, ICS and dozen more things. But this under achievement is not so bad, because books differ in length, if my reading this year is measured by pages, its surpassed pages I've read in 2015. My longest read this year was a lifetime's work of Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nation which is 1264 pages long and equal to 4 typical paperback books. It took me 8 months to finish.

Well, there is also a moral reason behind this under-achievement. As Noam Chomsky put it in his book, Power System (I'm paraphrasing): "that reading should be an intellectual exercise, we should think about it, go back and reflect and try not to forget what we read". So, after that encounter, I've changed my approach when it come to reading. Instead of racing to finish more books, I am more concern now on analyzing the content, to critically reflect on the ideas presented. 

Out of my 2016's book. 5 were on politics, 2 on economics, 4 novels, other 3 were on women and work, the future of human in space, and on the philosophy of existence. I'm thinking of writing my recommendation on reading for this year (I'll try). So, looking forward, I'll keep 20 books as my target for 2017.

On Family

My daughter became 1 year old this year. Flashing back, she grew up very fast. I watched her learn how to stand on her own feet, making her own baby steps, now she can run already. From just feeding on milk, now she already have her own teeth and can eat durian with me. Sometimes it feel magical watching a baby grow. Of course raising a child is hardwork, I learn how to shoulder the financial commitments, making time for her. During the early months, having a child made me appreciate a good sleep, something seems so precious during those period.

I also very grateful that my daughter and my wife sleeps very early. At night, when I boiled water to brew my coffee, they usually already fast asleep. This would give me extra time to flip through pages of my piling-to-read books, also gave me some space to type some of my thought.

On writing

I find it harder now to write in Malay. Not that I am not proud of my mother-tongue, or not patriotic, its just my surrounding was totally different now. Most of the book I read is in English, I also have to converse in English in the office, I speak Malay now only at home, or with my old friends. This changes has changed the language inside my head. I had thought in Malay previously, now they speak English. As I write what I think, its very hard to resist on writing in English.

On happiness 

I discovered 1 good book in my office's pantry, written by Michael Gill Gates. On his reflection, he once wrote of his French friend who take life on much more easier way. The idea that life is not a game or examination, you cannot fail in life. Its true sometimes bad thing happen in life, you lost your job, divorced, fail an exam, infected with disease, but these were not failure. Its just life in action, happening. Life has it twist and turns.

When I was a young kid, I remember once, I made a promise to myself. That I want to be a happy person, I will never get sad and will make sure that people around me always happy, I will help them to be happy. This is true, I don't make this up. Its a naive childhood dream, but as I getting older, I realized that maybe I should try make that dream of mine come true. I should try to be happy and not taking life very seriously. I was not competing against anyone, I have nothing to lose.

Final words

To be honest, I started writing this piece on the eve of the new year early this year. It should be published on 1st January as my new year resolution and reflection. But then, life happens. I was drown with work. I then realized its better that this piece come out incomplete, rather stuck in the draft folder forever. Although by society's standard this is very late, I'm still happy to announce that for 2017, my resolution is to be thankful and live happily.    

Jumaat, 3 Mac 2017

The five people you meet in heaven



Penulis: Mitch Albom
Penerbit: Hyperion, 2003

Saya membaca buku ini selepas saya membaca tulisan Albom dalam Tuesdays With Morrie. Pada mulanya saya memikirkan bahawa buku ini merupakan catatan non-fiksyen sebagaimana buku pertama yang saya baca. Helaian-helaian terawal, membuatkan saya merasakan bahawa buku ini tidak menepati citarasa saya, saya memutuskan untuk berhenti membaca.

Kemudian apabila saya teliti semula, baru saya sedari bahawa ia adalah sebuah novel. Jadi saya merendahkan expectation saya dan membacanya dengan santai sahaja. Ia ditulis dengan bab yang pendek-pendek, jadi pembaca mudah sahaja berhenti dimana-mana kemudian menyambungnya semula. Buku ini mengisahkan pengembaraan Eddie di syurga selepas dia mati dalam satu kemalangan di tempat dia bekerja. Dalam pengembaraan nya Eddie bertemu lima manusia yang pernah mempunyai connection dengan kehidupannya. Mereka menerangkan kepadanya pengajaran disebalik peristiwa yang dilaluinya semasa hidup.

Orang pertama adalah The Blue Man. Pekerja sarkas yang mati kerana cuba mengelak Eddie yang pada masa itu masih kanak-kanak, mengejar bola ditengah jalan raya. Dia menceritakan kepada Eddie tentang hidupnya dan memberitahu bahawa kita semua mempunyai perkaitan antara satu sama lain. Apa juga tindakan kita, kecil atau besar memberi kesan kepada sejarah kehidupan.

Orang kedua adalah kapten unit semasa Eddie bertugas sebagai tentera di Filipina. Beliau menceritakan semula kisah bagaimana mereka berjaya keluar dari tawanan tentera. Dia juga memberitahu bahawa dia lah yang menembak kaki Eddie kerana cuba menyelamatkan nya dari mati dibakar api. Eddie yang baru mengetahui hal ini berasa marah, kerana kecacatan kaki itu menghantuinya seumur hidup. Namun kemudian dia sedar bahawa untuk mendapatkan sesuatu, sesuatu yang lain perlu dikorbankan. Kaki yang cacat itu merupakan satu pengorbanan agar dia dapat terus hidup.

Orang ketiga adalah Ruby, yang merupakan wanita yang menjadi punca tempat Eddie bekerja dibina. Ruby menceritakan sejarah disebalik Ruby Pier dan kisah ayah Eddie. Eddie yang pada mulanya marah terhadap ayahnya yang membesarkannya tanpa kasih sayang akhirnya memaafkan beliau mendengar kisah hidupnya yang diceritakan oleh Ruby. Orang keempat adalah isterinya. Dimana beliau diberitahu bahawa cinta terus hidup walaupun orang yang dicintai telah meninggal dunia.

Orang yang terakhir yang berjumpa dengan Eddie adalah Tala. Kanak-kanak Filipina yang mati dibakar Eddie hidup-hidup ketika perang. Tiba ke bab terakhir ini, saya tertanya-tanya bagaimana penulis ingin memberi pengajaran dari kisah sadis ini. Ternyata Tala, tidak marah kepada Eddie kerana membakar dan menghancurkan hidupnya. Sebab? Kerana Eddie kemudian bekerja sebagai maintenance guy di pusat permainan kanak-kanak. Tala tidak marah kerana Eddie memastikan kanak-kanak lain dapat bermain dengan selamat. Saya merasakan pengajaran terakhir ini sangat kelakar, Mungkin penulis terpengaruh dengan fahaman American exceptionalism, dimana kamu masih boleh ke syurga walaupun membakar kanak-kanak hidup-hidup.

Anda boleh dapatkan buku ini melalui Amazon dengan link dibawah. Jika anda tidak dapat melihat link dibawah, anda boleh cuba disable ad-blocker pada browser anda.