Vancouver #2: Sunset Talk

Summer Break Journal #8
Vancouver, 25 May 2016

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I definitely think I have a “sunset bugs”, how could I never get bored of you even though I always see you in my whole life?

“The sunset from this Stanley Park is just so beautiful. I think this time I can agree on British Columbia tagline as the best place on Earth.”

“You know what, I just realize that you were right. Its so beautiful and I never really realize it as I see it everyday.” JJ, a friend of mine who already live 3 years in Vancouver now catching up with me and we were walking through the seawall of Stanley Park

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Me and JJ having a great Ramen dinner before strolling around Stanley Park for sunset

“Wow, you hear that sound? That’s a 9pm cannon ball shot from that corner in Stanley Park. Everyday 9pm, you can just sit here and listen to that sound of Vancouver as they put in this booklet.” I show her the tourism booklet that I just read.

“This is actually my first time hearing that! This is a perfect timing and moment.”

“Ah, this make me remember of a discussion with a friend about time and moment. Do you know that its not easily happen when the moment and timing can go hand in hand? Sometime the moment is perfect but time is a bitch as How I Met Your Mother movie said.”

“Hahaha. Thats a good saying. Thats true actually. This is make me really happy. This simple thing right now, sitting by watching the beautiful sunset in Stanley Park.”

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Reunited with JJ again!

“I could not agree more. Life is about now. The now moment. And we are having it right now in the sunset time with the cannon ball sound. Talking about our life and how we are living it to the fullest. I am happy I can meet you again, JJ.”

“Me too! This make me learn to more appreciate little things in life. The routine in life sometime kill you and make you forget to appreciate small things.”

“And now the sunset gone.. we will never see the same sunset again as the moment we have right now. I think that is how life work too. You can never repeat the moment as it is. That is why when we have time and moment work together very well, we have to live it to the fullest. Right?”

“I could not agree more.” 

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Still the same sunset view at Stanley Park seawall

 

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Gastown
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“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” — Le Petite Prince –. Photo taken with Fujifilm X-T10 from the rooftop of a building viewing Stanley Park seawall at night around 10 or 11pm

 

 

Boston Socrates Cafe #4 | Rani Bistro & Brookline Bench | ”Women : Its OK not to be OK!”

In the middle of Thanksgiving long weekend holiday and catching up times with paper and assignment due date, me and Andrea giving a space for some beautiful mind talks. Accompany with a decent Indian food that has a special brunch all you can eat buffet price – $10.50, Rani Indian Bistro which located at Brookline area, my favorite neighborhood!

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Our Socrates Cafe #4 inspired by an article at Magdalene website here which entitled : “The Empowerment of Hurts : A Perspective of Indonesian Women”. We are thrilled with the writing that based on a personal experience of Emily Werner who did a voluntary service work in Indonesia for 20 months.

The article mention the difference between the definition of empowerment feel by the US & Indonesian women and how to express it in the public. Women in Indonesia tend to show their feeling in the public when they get hurts / sad / lack of power while US women tend to always show their strength as a women even though they gets hurt or feeling unwell, they rarely share the sad or weakness through some emotions. Women in Indonesia maybe will updating their status on social media when they just broke up for instance, playing brokenhearted or “menye-menye” song or sharing sad photo. They tend to share it with no fear, they want to show people that they are in a broken situation. While women in the US will rarely doing this as they do not want to look weak even thought they are. Of course, this is not applied to all women in both Indonesia and US, but for some type of the women that I mention above – which I can easily find in both Indonesia & US. 

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 8.04.43 PM.pngI intentionally pick the seat beside the window so we can watch people passing by, remind me of how every Paris cafe chair set up facing the people on the street

 

We are discussing how both of us are evolve as a women in terms of “empowerment” during our time here in Boston. For me personally, I used to share my activity a lot on Path, Facebook, Twitter but since the first month I am here, I uninstall my Path, rarely share personal activities on Facebook / Twitter, and currently focusing on capturing photos and share it on instagram – trying to not posting selfies! 😀

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 8.04.28 PM.pngAs Rani is closing, we are moving to a nice bench in front of Starbucks at Harvard Street, Brookline. 

 

Why is that happening? I think its because of the environment here influence me to less-sharing as people here are very private about their life and you will not share easily on social media as well as you will not ask people’s address, relationship status, family, or other private stuff on the first time you meet the person. The result? I feel happier by doing that, life become as simple as not worrying what people will think about your life or as simple as you are not too much involve in other’s life. The most important thing : I can replace the time that I used to check people’s timeline into reading books / running / talk with real people / doing assignments.

Back to the case, we are then trying to analyze why women in Indonesia are sharing almost everything of their hurts? And the opposite thinking will be : why the friends of women in Indonesia enjoy reading / watching / listening to the hurts/pain that they share? Based on that article, Emily think that it is what empower them, what makes them “women” and by doing so, together they will build the strength with other women who might feel the same – Emily also bring the example of “Ibu Sexy Dance Time” who build this community of women aerobic class.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.56.12 PM.pngWe sit in the bench in this side of sidewalk and the sun suddenly started to set beautifully in Brookline, so lovely!

 

If you are Indonesian women, look around your friends.. you might find some women who you usually call them “menye-menye” or very girly typical kind of girl and some women who are more categorize as strong one. First, do not judge them both. We both come to the agreement that we have to respect any kind of women in the way they express their feeling of empowerment. We admit that we used to hate those “menye-menye” girls but after the conversation, we feel that it is so mean to just hating people by what they choose to be. The point is not hating people that we do not like but it’s more like respecting the way people act and keep being ourselves – we don’t need to follow majority of women just because people think its right, do not taken everything for granted.

If you are US women, do you think what I am saying is true? I write this carefully because I am afraid I am choosing the wrong word and lead to judgement. I hope its not. What I discover by living here 3 months and used to stay 7 months with some women in my exchange group from Canada, and also friends with some Americans in any occasions, my feeling is that what Emily saying in the article was true. Most of the women here in the US are tend to look so independent, strong, can-d0 many things from cooking until mechanics, and rarely showing and sharing what they feel when they get hurts. Why? I think it might be a culture that given by the women here since they were little. Parenting in the US and Indonesia are pretty much different which one can lead into being independent and the other can lead into always being dependent on other. It is also the environment where the women grow up will tell the different.

So, which one is better than the other? As a women, do we have to share when we gets hurts or should we hide it and keep it by ourselves?

One thing that we learn from this conversation is that “It is OK not to be OK”. Most of the women might think that they should always look ok and not weak so that the man / other will not underestimate them. But sometime, things are hard to handle and if we pretend that everything is ok while we feel really hurts, it might bring pain inside ourselves. Why not sharing it to the other?

Somehow my stand point is that we need to balance between sharing our pain or hurts and showing our strength. Being too strong as you are hiding some pains will only make us as a women stress. Being too weak to be seen by people as you share every hurts that you feel will also not good. Therefore, maybe as a women we should balance and listen to ourselves, are we doing ok? Do not afraid to share what you feel – because it is OK not to be OK 🙂

But then again, your life – your rule. You decide which one works better for you, not the other. Not society define you. So if you feel that you don’t need to balance because you don’t feel stressful by always looking strong and never show any hurts/pain, you also don’t feel that you are pretending to be OK, so maybe you never need to balance since you are already on a good shape.

It is always special and grateful born as a women and I never regret it, at least that’s what I feel as an Indonesian women who is currently living in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Boston Socrates Cafe #3 | 1369 Coffeehouse | ”Define Your Own Freedom (and Happiness)”

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Finally, after the crazy midterm session, we starting our “Socrates Cafe” again! We decided to start the session by having late lunch Ramen that we already carving for so long around Harvard Square in Cambridge; the famous Santouka Ramen!

Everytime I look at this photo, I wanna go back to this place.. so tempting!
Everytime I look at this photo, I wanna go back to this place.. so tempting!

Then I remember they have a cute little coffeehouse in Cambridge that on my list to visit : 1369 Coffeehouse! So we decided to catch the 69 Bus from Harvard and get down in this cute coffeehouse after 7 stops. Here are some of the photos as you can easily imagine how one of the best coffee shop in Boston look like :

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 8.23.30 PMThe coffeehouse in the night. Image source : http://www.1369coffeehouse.com

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The backside of the coffeehouse. 
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We sit just across this place!
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1369 from outside. I take the photo with Andrea’s Sony mirrorless camera.
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Its not come with the cup, surprisingly. Even though we order hot coffee au lait & hot chocolate almond joy. Photo taken by Andrea.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 8.23.01 PM The mural behind the coffeehouse. Image source : http://www.1369coffeehouse.com

We pick the 3rd Socrates Cafe topic under the theme of “Freedom” as Andrea get inspired after her visit to the prison as you can read on her blog here.  We started to explore what kind of freedom we have right now and we both agree that we have a lot of freedom to use in our life, but most of the time, we don’t use it (or we prefer to not using it).

Freedom to speak, freedom to choose your friend (or not to choose), freedom to be alone, freedom to decide whatever you want, freedom to choose your religion (or not having one), freedom to travel, freedom to live wherever you want, and other kind of freedom.

The question is : do you use your freedom ultimately? and is your freedom lead you to your happiness?

Most people maybe will assume that freedom means do whatever you want without any boundaries. But what about if people choose to have boundaries and that whats make them happy? What is people prefer of being not free?

Recently, I read Haruki Murakami book and then it bring me curiosity on what this genius writer think about freedom and this is one of the conversation that I found through his book, “Kafka on The Shore” :

“That backpack’s like your symbol of freedom,” he comments.
“Guess so,” I say.
“Having an object that symbolizes freedom might make a person happier than actually getting the freedom it represents.”
“Sometimes,” I say.
“Sometimes,” he repeats. “You know, if they had a contest for the world’s shortest replies, you’d win hands down.”
“Perhaps.”
“Perhaps,” Oshima says, as if fed up. “Perhaps most people in the world aren’t trying to be free, Kafka. They just think they are. It’s all an illusion. If they really were set free, most people would be in a real bind. You’d better remember that. People actually prefer not being free.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

In our conversation, we explore that people should define their own freedom, aren’t they? Definition of freedom for me might differ with what you think of your freedom. I am a moslem myself and maybe some people think that I have a boundaries with my religion, some people might think that being free means doesn’t have any religion. But I feel insecure if I don’t pray for example – which lead me to not having my own freedom of security that can create happiness eventually. So, is having religion set a boundary for people not having their ultimate freedom? Not always the case. Here, we come to the conclusion that we should define our own freedom that will lead to happiness. You cannot just follow other people definition of freedom because it might not make you happy.

Source : http://www.lovethispic.com/image/172448/doing-what-you-like-is-freedom,-liking-what-you-do-is-happiness
Image Source : http://www.lovethispic.com/image/172448/doing-what-you-like-is-freedom,-liking-what-you-do-is-happiness

If we put this perspective on other people’s shoes, then we have to respect on people’s definition of freedom. I remember that one of my professor said in class, the most important thing in life is sometime not to love but to respect. You don’t have to love everyone but you have to respect everyone with all the differences that they have with you. 

To define your own freedom is maybe easier than to respect on other choice of freedom. For instance, you have a group of friends. One of your friend might choose to not always hanging out together with you because he or she just choose to not doing that for some reasons. It doesn’t mean that she or he hating the group, it just that they choose to have her or his freedom to do something else.

Another example, in Indonesia, most of the time we always think that people who go alone, watch movie alone, eating alone, in the cafe alone, is kind of pathetic. Our mind is so dangerous that it can judge people easily. Our conversation conclude that we should respect people freedom of choice to live their life as they want. Maybe they just want to be alone at that time – you never know if this person always have a friend or partner to go with every weekend. If we want people respect our choice of freedom, we should start learn how to respect other 🙂

To close this 3rd Socrates Cafe, I would like to encourage everyone who read this to celebrate your own freedom by defining what’s yours and achieve your own definition of happiness by doing so. Freedom is such a beautiful gift from our God and if we are not using it, you will maybe not living your life to the fullest or the worst thing, as Murakami mention below, you will start hating somebody in your life. I hope we are not that kind of person 🙂

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Boston Socrates Cafe #2 | Charles River Before Sunset | “The Art Behind Sharing in Social Media”

Art
noun

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Leo Tolstoy identified art as a use of indirect means to communicate from one person to another.

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Can you see us?

The second Boston Socrates Cafe session of me and Andrea held in Charles River before sunset bring the topic of sharing in social media. What is the intension behind people share their life from photos and video of activities, travel, babies, wedding, food, office, work, sad or cruel things, social issue, etc. There is an art behind what people post. Oh for you who did not aware what is “Boston Socrates Cafe”, you might want to read our first session here.

The reason why bring this topic is because Andrea suddenly found an interesting status that her friend post on facebook about how people sometime flaunting / show off at their facebook timeline and it can make jealousy for other. How urgent you need to share (or sometime flaunt) your life to other?

Our socrates conversation start from of course reflectiom on how we both share in our social media. We both share on Facebook and Instagram mostly. I stop using “Path” and uninstall it since 2 weeks ago while Andrea starting to frequently use it again. I am not really into Twitter right now and more have the mood to share longer thoughts in this blog.

We realize that there is always intension or motivation behind what we share on social media. We share a photo of us biking for instance, what is the reason behind it? Why in the world we want to show people we are biking in Boston? There must be single, double, or triple reason (s) why we share that.

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Our "cafe" for second Socrates conversation!

For me personally, I share things that I love and passionate about it. Lately I share photos of food that I cook in Boston, places that I love while I travel, or activities with friends that I think its worth to share because I am having a great time or just simply because its a beautiful photo 🙂 Its funny that very few of my post is about school while my goal here in Boston is to go to school and graduate in 2 years. Now I realize why, because maybe its not as interesting as things we did beyond classes or we just dont wanna share about school while we already occupied with it during the week.

That is at least my intention. To show people what I am really passionate about and somehow I want people to celebrate the passion together, to eventually influence them following what I did. In some cases, it works. I post a photo of fried corn and vegetable (read: gorengan) that I cook last 3 days and at least 6 people comment on my instagram and facebook that it influence them to cook the same thing because suddenly they miss it. I post lots of photo and some video recently about Boston and it influence some people to travel to Boston / choosing Boston as their place to study.

Maybe some people out there might think that I am flaunting my life. Showing off what I have in my life and maybe they do not like it. Some people might think I am disturbing their timeline, make them annoyed of my posting and hate me. I know all that consequences. Me and Andrea agree that we have the right to post anything and people who see our post also have the right to like it or hate it, but we come up with the conclusion that we do not have the right to judge them. To judge people by what they post / share.

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The Very "active and healthy" Charles River

How many of you ever judging people from their post? Lets being honest here. I did judge people from what they post, it is very hard to not make assumption or suspend our judgement from what people post. For example, a mom who always posting about their babies every single minutes. We might have a different judgement or assumption from it. Some people might think its annoying why you always post photos and videos of your baby every minute, why dont you keep it only for you and your husband. Some people might think its very beautiful emotion and expression and they wanting to watch more and more post about it. There are always that slight assumption and judgement that always come in your mind right after you see someone’s post.

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Ok now. What do you judge from this photo? :mrgreen:

But we can start to reduce the judgement and assumption from now. We can always think positive about what the intention behind people’s post. Whether they are intentionally flaunting or showing off or they are not, let see the positive side of their post. Because we never know what motivation behind their post.

Well, in fact, for some people its hard to post something. It will take them hours or even days or weeks to think before they post something. Why? Because maybe they are afraid of the judgement that will occur from their friend once they post it. For some other people, it just like flipping a coin or a hand, very easy to share something about everything in their social media. Because maybe this kind of people do not care about what people will think about them and people will judge anyway – so why afraid of sharing?

There are always intention and motivation behind people’s post on social media. We could never really know what is it unless you ask the people. So instead of jealous, negative thinking, and hate what people post, why not we think positive and stop judging people from what they post.

In other hand, if we share something, lets think twice about what we gonna share and what the effect that might be occur after we share it to reduce the “flaunting” case that I explain in the beginning. We dont want to hurt people by our post, dont we? I believe that we want people to be motivated, get a good influence from our post, or just neutral instead of get the negative effect.

After all, I think its an art. Like what I write in the first paragraph of this post, sharing in social media is an emotion that you show to people through indirect means of communication as Tolstoy said. And you can never judge an art because there is never right or wrong in art.

We are wrapping up the second session by taking the beautiful sunset photo and video around Charles River. I post some of the them on instagram and I hope its not giving you the negative effect, I swear I do not have the intention of flaunting here haha.

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It is so worth to share this photo, isn't it? 🙂

See you on the next thought on our Socrates Cafe! 🙂

PS. If you have any idea what will be interesting to discuss on the next Socrates Cafe, please write your comment here. Also, always feel free to comment on our thoughts since we know its not always right what we have  been thinking 🙂

Boston Socrates Cafe #1 | Charles River | “Mindful Living”

Andrea, a grad student in Boston University with the same scholarship (+the same batch!) too, hosted me for my 1st week in Boston before I can move to my apartment. It turns out that we have sleepless nights in the end of August. We just found out 1 commonality between us : we love to talk about philosophical things in life that maybe not many people care to even talk / think about it. Our discussion can go very far from religion to gender. From human commonsense to government. Questions such as, “Why people want to die in Indonesia even though they spend most of their time the US” to “What is people value in their life”. We do not talk about right or wrong. We just want to play with our mind and how far we can go.

We enjoy our talks and we both agree that it really open our mind and to have such a mind-blowing conversation will always keep our brain curious and not easily being judgmental to people.

So we decided to formalize the session and having it regularly during our grad school life here in Boston. We pick our 1st talk last week under the topic of “Transformation in the Mid 20s” and we pick Charles River sunset just across our campus as the 1st place! We ride our bike and find this really beautiful and peaceful spot that you can even dip in your feet into the water!

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27 Club

We started to talk about how people are usually facing life crisis in their mid 20s and we both are now in that age. I learnt the term “27 Club” which is a term that use for many of young talented people die at the age of 27 mostly because of suicide, drug, sick, etc. Including Kurt Cobain. Is this just coincidence? or they did it intentionally because they are facing those life crisis and thinking to continue the “27 Club” tradition. Well, we never know. One thing that we both agree is that its definitely difficult and challenging to pass the age of 25 – 30. If you give up, you might ended up did not live your life to the fullest and forgot what have you’ve done during these times.

Mindful Living

Turns out, we think that people the mid 20s definitely have to live in the present. We mean really living the moment. Most of us, we live, breath everyday, doing things we do regularly, BUT only few of us can really feel what we are doing. You might be physically there hanging out with your friends in a cafe but your mind is not there.You might think about your job tomorrow, your problem at home, etc.

We also discuss that people in Indonesia mostly get distracted by phone when we talk each other. We are not focusing with the people that we meet at that present time. We are busy replying to some whatssapp group, line group, uploading photo on path, instagram, scrolling facebook timeline, etc. Isn’t that sad? When you meet people, it is a precious time. You  should appreciate people that spend their time choose to meet you among other choices. That is where living in the present is very important.

If we think further, this applied in our life especially the mid 20s that we talked here. Time will flies so fast until you forget to living the moment in the present. If you want your time valuable, people that you meet will be a long life investment, and your dream comes true, one of the key that we think very important is living the moment, living in the present. In other word, we love to use the term “Mindful Living”. That is mean mindful eating, mindful talking, mindful traveling, and other.

It is extremely hard to applied mindful living with all distraction that people will have in their life. But we both believe that we can try to start focus on today and lets enjoy the day by really living in the moment. We suddenly remember our trip to Chicago last 2 weeks ago that we change the way of traveling from ticking a lot of places to visit become enjoying every single moment we found on our way and do not care about not visiting all the landmark places for example. It is the journey, not the destination. That is what life is all about too. It does not need to be always the destination of your life, but more on how you make the best of the journey to go to the destination 🙂

We have a temporary name for this talk : Boston Socrates Cafe. 1st, we are having the talk in Boston. 2nd, we want to do more philosophical think and questioning everything like Socrates. 3rd, lets make it just like in the cafe – and our definition of cafe here is everywhere, started from Charles River sunset.

See you in the next thought of our Socrates Cafe!