I missed the bus

After making sure I didn’t leave anything behind, I went out of my bedroom. Wore a pair of shoes, greeted my flatmate, and went downstairs. Just like the other times, I missed my bus today. 91 to Trafalgar Square. Does not happen often, though, only sometimes. Especially when I’m in a rush. It left the stop right after I arrived.

Of course I swore. If only I didn’t spend my time staring blankly across my bedroom, thinking if I was missing something, maybe I could hop on the bus just in time. If only I showered fast enough, or if only I didn’t take a freaking twenty minutes just to choose which pair of outfits I want to wear today.

Just when I decided to sit and wait; I realised I forgot to bring my handphone.

I ran to my flat. Thank God, I missed the bus.

Excuse me while I’m pondering my daily mundanities.

It is true that maybe we have to stop wishing to change things in the past and ruminating with ‘if only’s. What do we know, actually? Our knowledge would not be broad enough to understand an intricate yet huge timeline that is life, nor we have it in control.

It sucks to miss your bus and get left behind and have to wait for another eight minutes under a scorching sun. It sucks to feel like you didn’t move fast enough or think smart enough. It sucks to feel like you didn’t work hard enough and people around you seem like they had it all figured out. But what do we know, actually? What do we know about scenarios the universe has in store for us?

What if I got on the bus and totally forgot my phone after I reached five stops? First, damn. I don’t want to spend my time turning back all the way to my flat in this weather. Second, I have to pay for another route? With the increased fare caused by the 2022 recession? God forbade all these things happened to me by keeping me away to get on that bus.

And that’s how life works, too.

Maybe I walked sloooowly however much I tried to run, and I missed many opportunities and what could be’s along the way. But maybe I need to pick up something I have left accidentally before I hop on another opportunity. Another 91 to Trafalgar Square.

“Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.” (QS. 2:216)

Can you imagine living in a palace?

I went to the Schwerin Schloss in Germany just two days ago as part of my unplanned summer Eurotrip. I have to say that ever since I’m in the UK, I have no interest to visit castle and other glorious palaces. While I’m here in Germany, though, since there was an opportunity to go there with my friend and her friends, I did visit one.

The palace was so magnificent. It’s so beautiful and unreal. It’s something out of reach yet very familiar since we were exposed to those kind of visuals ever since Disney decided to make movies about princesses.

It’s crazy how wealthy people were too wealthy they entitled to build a huge palace just for themselves. On top of that, they were very narcisstic they put dozens of paintings and sculptures of themselves and their palace. Hundreds of maids served them, gardeneres mowed their grass, people paid taxes to them because they were the landlords. Imagine it. Imagine it while you internalised these pictures;

I know, I know. Imagine sitting by the windows while gazing out to a vast landscape, reading philosophical literatures by the philosophers whose the sculptures of their busts were displayed on top of your five metres bookshelves. A dream.

But imagine how far you would be from the reality that existed far across the land. Imagine how entitled you could be to live like that while people could not even afford to eat, and you could not possibly realise that because you’re just so high in the cloud. You might think people live well enough because, well! How come people could not afford to eat! They just have to work hard like you!

Thanks but no thanks. Does not hinder the fact that the palace was beautiful, though. Thanks to the artists and the interior designers.

I was thinking if maybe in the future they would turn modern ‘palaces’ of the current rich people into museums? I don’t know. Not until there is any coup d’etat or something like that.

All the bigger things

Sometimes when you realise that you live in a city that is so big it overwhelmed you, and you feel so, so tiny and irrelevant, it makes you think that every effort you gave is going to waste anyway however hard you try. Problem comes and goes, and you try with all your might to solve it, yet you still feel like it is all insignificant. Where is the end of the road?

I was on a train to Stansted for a morning flight when I thought that big things are just the other things and they could be as insignificant as you. Or actually, you could be as significant as them. Or whichever metric you used when negative thoughts consume you.

Big things are beautiful because you look at them from afar. The shape of a big thing is solid and sure, not a single thing of doubt. It looks like they had it all figured out already. They are still pretty even when you changed your point of view. Just. Magnificent. Of how sure they exist.

But again, big things are beautiful because you look at them from afar. Take a hundred steps closer and you’ll find how fragile it is, the construction, the imperfect shapes with scratches, the ageing and fading paint. Not necessarily ugly, but fragile and complicated. Like you.

Like how you see yourself.

You are the closest being to yourself, and however hard you try to see yourself from afar you just can’t. You know how you work, you remember the origins of every scar, you know why the paint is fading. And you are fragile and complicated and maybe there is some parts of you you don’t like, yes, but it does not hinder you from being beautiful. You are still beautiful, but more than that, you are vulnerable and real and human. And what is it from being human that is not beautiful?

Cologne, Germany

Hocus Focus

The inability to focus has been a hot topic among the late-twenties these days. ‘I used to finish a book in a day,’ ‘I used to enjoy watching Korean dramas,’ We ask, we answer, and discuss, without really figuring out the root cause because things are different for people.

My friend deliberately explain that this happened because our IQ has been degrading since the start of the pandemic, in other words; we got dumber each day. In which I replied with a nod. My argument was because I have experienced two horrible covid-19 episodes and research shows that this virus has got to do with cognitive functions or something. One of my friends argues that this was because the avid development of digital world compels us to be more familiar with contents that only required short span of attention. I think they all make sense.

For me, it means that I switch from one task to another more often than I used to. I rarely finish one thing before I move on to another. It makes me feel that I don’t have any ability to finish even one task at hand–an awful feeling. If I was not in a stable mental condition, I would then go down the rabbit hole and find myself questioning my existence. I’m sure it’s not only happened to me.

This post is not about overcoming the phenomenon, if there’s any. This is a conscious acknowledgement that it exists, that our brain might work differently right now versus two years ago. Perhaps also as a gesture to consider when we started questioning about ourselves again. And a reminder to make sure that you’re not alone in this journey.

Aristotle on Eudaimonia

On intermediate;

“Both fear and confidence and appetite and anger and pity and in general pleasure and pain may be felt both too much and too little, and in both cases not well; but to feel them at the right times, with reference to the right objects, towards the right people, with the right motive, and in the right way, is what is both intermediate and best, and this is characteristic of virtue.”

On achieving the best within;

“One will also need external prosperity; for our nature is not self-sufficient for the purpose of contemplation, but our body also must be healthy and must have food and other attention.”

“We can do noble acts without ruling earth and sea; for even with moderate advantages one can act virtuously.”

Day and Night

I’ve been very fascinated recently by the Lighting & Daylighting course I take for my master’s degree, even though I’m far from comprehensively understood about this subject. The way they deliver the course, starting from the ‘history of the sun’, how people had been innovating buildings and humans health based on sunlight since the start of the world’s society. My professor gave us a book titled ‘The Light Revolution’ by Richard Hobday PhD months ago. It’s been ages since I have reading as my hobby, to be honest, and starting this master degree journey kind of slaps me in the face. I started, nevertheless.

I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m the type of switching books in the middle of it! Okay, enough TMI. I found these sentences along the way:

“The latest research suggests that when the sun is out we should be outside too getting enough of its brightness to reset our biological clocks, and enough of its rays on our skin to build up our reserves of Vitamin D. Then, when the sun disappears below the horizon, so should we. Or, at least, we should be seeking darkness and avoiding bright light if we want to stay healthy.”

Richard Hobday, PhD

I immediately think of the Quran verses about how God creates day and night and it’s there for human to be pondered about. These verses about day and night has been replaying inside my head ever since I put my feet on the London’s ground. So I searched the exact phrase of the verse;

“Do they not notice that We have made it night so that they may rest in it and day to light? Indeed, in this there are signs (of God’s power) for those who believe.”

QS An-Naml: 86

“He is the one who made the night for you so that you may rest on it and (made) the day bright (so that you may seek God’s grace). Indeed, in this there are signs (of Allah’s power) for those who hear.”

QS Yunus: 67

‘For those who believe’, ‘for those who hear’. What I can conclude from these verses and how they connect to today’s research is that believing in a faith is not a passive act. Believing is actively seeking for the truth. The phenomenon of day and night, if we think about it deeply, is very miraculous. Remember in the post about london sky? I told you about sun path etc., things I wouldn’t even think before… No one, except God, can create a system this complex yet easy enough to digest by every human with different intellectual level.

What right do humans have to be walking proudly on earth, while the knowledge that we have discovered in this long span of time is only like a drop of water from a vast ocean?

May God make us among people who think.

Sunset in London, 5 December 2021

Decor, Decorative, Decoration

In ‘Trees in Urban Design’, Henry stated this pharagraph;

In addition to actually creating discrete spaces, trees are used to connect and extend the geometry, rhythms, and scale of buildings into the landscape. It is this function much more than any decorative or softening effect that is of primary importance to architecture. When trees are used primarily to “soften” or “decorate”, they are being imployed to correct deficiencies that might have been averted to begin with by sensitive design. Used as extensions of architectural and city form, they greatly expand the scope and potential of urban design

Henry F. Arnold

In the middle of my journey defining interior design, as well as on my way to research about urban green infrastructures (that I got as my dissertation topic SOMEHOW), it is interesting that I found the similar perspective on “decoration” in these two subjects’ decision making.

Back when I was studying interior design, my lecturers had to remind us over and over that we are not interior decorator. They said that every decision in our design has to have meaning and reasonable justification. When we choose colours, or placing furnitures, or adding indoor plants; what is it about? To make the space prettier? Why? Why should the place be pretty?

I was taught that way, and still am thinking that way. I think designing something with function in mind is more valuable. In this blog post I don’t have any intention to amplify this teaching, I want to ask instead; what is decoration? What value does it hold? To what extent does something is called a decoration? Is it a sin to make something pretty?

Conran’s US Magazine (c) Design Museum London

On Interior Design I

I’ve been wondering about the position of interior design and its significance in humans lives, more often here in London since I started my study. To define its position and with a slow process of my learning pace, I might turn this topic into a series of scattered thoughts (which is the point of this blog) and I hope someday it will make sense in the end.

This is the part one.

In 1945, Praz wrote La Filosofia dell’Arredamento, The Philoshophy of Furnishing. In the same year, Indonesia had just gained its independence status. Briefly I thought, what a contrasting experience we had back then and how it must have been impossible for us Indonesians to find a time for leisure to decorate and arrange spaces while having to fight for our independence. Boy was I wrong. The way Sayuti Melik arranged his desk to write the proclamation text, or in which part of the house Fatmawati sew the first Indonesian red and white flag, or how the wives arranged the pictures of their husbands who died fighting for our country on the wall; all of this is interior design.

I think this mindset can make interior design much richer with value because it doesn’t only talk about what is on the surface of its elements, like colours, shapes, light, patterns (which also equally important), but in the same time about the occupants’ thought processes, priorities, stories within the space, love and hate, history, timelines, or what is close to one’s heart.

The fact that interior design exists naturally beyond social class, it is such a pity that today’s practice and its acknowledgements have narrowed it down into an exclusive luxurious service which can only be afforded by those with money.

Meeting People

First of all, I want to puke. I don’t always know what’s inside my gut but I always want to puke every time it’s near the time of the agreed meeting schedule. To whoever my friend reading this, please do not take it personally. I can assure you, a hundred percent, this is a me problem.

It is not always visible. In fact, people cannot see this from the outside. I can be very friendly, I realized I have various tones when I speak, some people see me as an easy going person. No, it is always a big effort for me to talk to people. Oftentimes my hands are sweating and my heart is pounding.

Uttering one simple daily question is a result of me trying to breakdown every single piece of words inside my head, an effort to stop myself in the activity of thinking about the possibilities of people’s answers.

I stutter. English or not, I do. Yes, I stutter in Indonesian too. I rarely have a structured sentence every time I speak. Subject, predicate, object, adverb, what even is that… My brain, it never used to that. Perhaps that’s why I prefer to write, somehow it can be more structured.

I wonder how it feels like to have a natural talent to speak to people. To have the exact words flowing easily, beautifully even, from their tongue as they form a structured sentence. Those who have it might struggle too, of course. Talent will fade when you don’t have enough respect for yourself to practice. But you know what I mean.

There are times when I bailed out, many episodes of it I feel very ashamed about. But many times I kicked out that temptation, you know, and actually meet people. Once I meet them, though, I would feel glad that I didn’t bail out. Those times are the times I feel proud with myself.

Ibu said meeting people is an opportunity. I think she is right. Meeting people is an opportunity to borrow their pairs of eyes they use to see the world. We will never have enough pairs of eyes, I think. Even though we got to go through many episodes of fighting the urge to puke and pounding hearts and awkward questions, another person is another place to travel.

About London Sky

It never occurred to me that a human, tiny little creature in a gigantic universe, can somehow measure the height of the skies. I remember it vividly when I stepped out from a Heathrow Airport building and sat inside a bus that would take me to a quarantine hotel, that was the first time I experienced being under the London sky. It was very dull, the sky was grey, it rained when I was still inside the airport, typical London in September. Nothing particular happened to be frank, until the bus moved and I could see a bigger percentage of London sky.

The sky is near.

London sky is near. Did I make sense?

Despite the close distance, I felt even smaller, actually. I think because somehow the closeness made the sky even wider.

People who lived forever in this country might not realize this, you see. Because we can only feel the change in our environment only if we had a contrasting experience before (said me). Me, being a tropical girl, I can confidently say that the sky in Indonesia is soooo, so far, unreachable, and bright, and if the angels have a conversation above the clouds, we might never hear it.

Weeks after my first London sky experience, I actually learned about it scientifically in class. About why I think it is near, about the sun path in wintertime, about the differences in time and space.

I still think about it, you know, about how near it is. Sometimes. When I feel alone. But that’s another story!