The Four Milestones

February 4, 2011

The Tree of Knowledge

Filed under: My Thoughts — ohgo @ 1:08 pm

The Apple of Eden
Is it a curse?
Or is it actually a blessing?


January 21, 2011

About the Bridges in Our Lives

Filed under: My Thoughts — ohgo @ 1:28 pm

Most people think having numerous options in their lives lead them to better chance of happiness. I also used to think so. Why not? It’s just rational, isn’t it?
Afterall, options mean SECURITY. We lost A, we still have B. I’ll try to catch the train. In case I miss it, there’s the bus.
Or even POWER. What kind of smartphone do you want, son? Name it, Dad’s gonna get one for ya. See?

However, now I can’t help but wonder if that’s entirely true. According to Professor Barry Schwartz, less options is better! Watch his talk on TED about the paradox of choice. Here’s some quick examples of his ideas. Imagine you are buying a cup of frozen yoghurt. What kind of toppings do you want? Chocolate chips? Mints? Jelly? or Berries? The number of options itself is astounding. And when you finally decide one and enjoy it, what would be in your mind when it taste just so-so?

I SHOULD have chosen other toppings.

Exactly. No matter if what you pick (even if it’s already the best available), considering the number of options, you always wonder if you could have done BETTER. This wouldn’t be the case if there’s only one topping for all frozen yoghurt.

Professor Bartz’s idea about the options in front of us, which drag us further from satisfaction, is indeed intriguing. But the most dangerous kind of options is not the ones laying in front of us. They are actually the options we left BEHIND.

There’s a famous story about a a Chinese commander named Xiang Yu. In 210 BC, he led his troops across the Yangtze River to attack the army of the Qin dynasty. Pausing on the banks of the river for the night, his troops awakened in the morning to find, to their horror, that their ships were burning. They hurried to their feet to fight off their attackers, but soon discovered that it was Xiang Yu himself who had set their ships on fire, and that he had also ordered all the cooking pots crushed.

What had he done? Xiang Yu essentially left no options for his soldier to go back. That did not earn Xiang Yu a place on the Chinese army’s list of favorite commanders, but it did have a tremendous focusing effect on his troops: grabbing their lances and bows, they charged ferociously against the enemy and won nine consecutive battles, completely obliterating the main-force units of the Qin dynasty.

We all have been in Xiang Yu’s position in today’s world, yet we often took a completely different approach. Think about those entrance tests, job interviews, project contracts… Did you really choose only one and fight fully for that one? Did you overcome the fear of failure and when you actually fail, restrain from fooling yourself that you did not really want the job anyway, and there were still many vacancies available? Admit it, stories have it that many successful people bore the fruit from their persistence on a single idea. Henry Ford. Edwin C. Barnes. Thomas Edison. Colonel Sandres. The list goes on.

Moral of the story: maybe next time we’re not feeling enough satisfaction from our decisions,  we need to stop and think. Is it simply because of the illusions of better bridges? And also when we feel like we can’t move forward any further, think. Did we, out of fear of failure, left any bridges behind just in case.. and as a result not trying hard enough to go forward?

January 5, 2011

English as a Second Language Learning (ESL)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ohgo @ 2:28 pm

International schools have been making some news nowadays. What does it mean to be an international school? the curriculum? the native teachers? or merely the language in which the courses are delivered?

Admittedly, English proficiency is a must today. Parents are increasingly aware that their children need to master the language. Most of them, though, does not really have a clear idea about how to learn it the right way. Seriously.

Take a look into this article, which throws some very interesting myths about ESL learning such as:

  • Is it true that children learn second language more quickly and easily than adults?
  • Does “swim or sink” method work fine in acquiring second language?
  • Why do some children seem to speak the language fluently enough, yet they are still failing academically?

and some other thought-provoking questions. Check it out and let me know how many of those questions u got right 😉

July 29, 2010

A Pressure Cooking Life

Filed under: My Thoughts — ohgo @ 7:19 pm

The lady served some tea and quickly went back. She had been busy cooking chicken for her guests… which later they praised as one of the best cookings they ever had. Nah, the one who was responsible for the remarkably tasteful dinner — besides the lady, of course — would be the pressure cooker she used.

But how do pressure cookers work?
A pressure cooker increases pressure by not permitting air to escape while cooking. This allows the liquid in the pot to rise to a higher temperature before boiling.

Beautifully, our lives do the same thing. We have always been ‘pressure cooked’. In schools, workplaces, meetings, and other occasions.
This kind of pressure also increases our ‘boiling point’. Maturing us. At some point it is going to hurt so much that we think we can not hold it anymore. But if we carry on, we will end up being very, very strong… and one day be just as flavorful as that lady’s pressure-cooked chicken breasts were 😉

May 23, 2010

Filling My Own Shoes

Filed under: Uncategorized — ohgo @ 9:54 pm


It always takes very long to try on new shoes.
It’s because I want to be sure I’m filling my own shoes,
not anyone’s else.

April 25, 2010

The Not So Frequently Said Words

Filed under: My Thoughts — ohgo @ 11:45 pm

Well, these things are becoming more and more undoable today:

  • to look someone in the eye and say ‘I apologize‘ however guilty we feel we are.
  • to stop making up things and just say ‘I don’t know‘ if WE REALLY DON’T KNOW.
  • to say ‘I love you‘ when an ‘I love you too‘ is not guaranteed to, at least, certain probability.

Okay. I apologize if this one sounds like an stupid generalization. But I really feel that way and I don’t know why these things happening.. so just bear with me this time 🙂 I love you, guys.

…err and by the way, I looked you in the eye.

Useless Words

April 24, 2010

Be Worth It

Filed under: My Thoughts — ohgo @ 8:19 pm
Tags: , ,

Your dad came home late, exhausted.
Your mom spared you the last bowl of rice, said she’s okay.
Your smartest friend taught you after class, because you were so left behind.
Your girlfriend stayed up late to support you studying for some entrance tests.

and imagine all the events when people had done so MUCH for you.

Often, when we tried to thank them, they just looked us in the eye. No words, just silence.
But we definitely know their eyes said something… something we’d never forget.
And it has the power to keep us moving forward even years later.

Be Worth It Look
A gentle, warm stare, saying: “Be worth it.

March 30, 2010

Nyanyian Pak Tua

Filed under: My Thoughts — ohgo @ 11:10 pm

or Old Man’s Ballad – Okay, more on translation later. I simply want to move this entry (previously on Friendster) to this blog, so yeah this one is in Indonesian. LANGUAGE INCONSISTENCY, WOOT!


City Night

Hari ini sepulang dari daerah Hayam Wuruk, saya ngangkot naik 91. Kebetulan hari sudah lumayan gelap, maka nyalalah itu lampu-lampu di sepanjang jalan. Tidak ada yang tidak normal. Jeritan besi tua bus, klakson motor, rambatan sedan, Kijang, Xenia terkurung macet. Hoahm.

Lalu masuklah pak tua itu. Bawa gitar. Saya iseng amati dia dari bangku saya di tengah bus. Badannya lumayan besar, yang bikin saya geli dalam hati, apakah gambar di lengan bajunya itu logo operator telepon seluler atau tulisan ukuran bajunya belaka. Oke, jadi menyanyilah dia menghibur kami. Tangan saya cari-cari recehan.

Satu lagu, dua lagu, tiga… masih lanjut berdendang dia. Tumben ada orang ngamen nyanyinya lama. Entah karena sensasi ketulusan dari suaranya, atau bohlam kecil remang-remang bus kota, saya tenggelam deh dalam suasana itu. Merasa jadi melan, perhatian saya lempar ke sekitar. Lampu kamar apartemen TA, gerbang gedung kantor, sopir truk, taksi bluebird, jendela bus. “Tuhan tolonglah hambaMu…” pak tua itu teriak sambil merem melek. Ia nyanyikan lagu yang saya tak tahu judulnya apa. Jenggotnya bergoyang.

Di tengah lagu pak tua, flyover, gedung kantor, jalan tol, dan elemen metropolitan lain, beberapa kontras seketika muncul bikin hati saya perih. Potret kemiskinan di sebuah koran nasional beberapa waktu lalu. Soal ujian 2 hari lalu tentang anak-anak di Sumatra yang terpaksa bekerja di bawah umur. Berita gereja hari Minggu tentang panti asuhan di Jakarta yang mengharap tetesan dana. “Air mata menetes di pipii…”, tangan besarnya lincah mengganti kord. Ibu di bangku sebelah membenarkan gendongan bayinya. Mbak-mbak bawa balon. Cici-cici dengan tahi lalat di wajah menatap keluar. Saya turut menengok. Sopir truk angkut melaju perlahan. Sedan hitam menyalip.

Sopir bus kami menghindari mobil di depannya. Di deretan depan bapak-bapak pulang kerja memberi sinyal minta turun. Kenek mengisap rokok dan minta ongkos ke mas-mas yang baru naik. Pak tua tadi, sudah selesai nyanyi, mengambil nafas dan mengucap terima kasih. Kepalanya manggut-manggut. Dia merogoh kantong, mendapat yang dia mau, lalu membuka bungkus kopiko terlipat empat itu dan membawanya sampai belakang bus. Everyone struggles untuk hidup. Saya tarik nafas. “Terima kasih”, katanya lembut, ramah. Uang saya terselip di tengah-tengah. Pak tua itu turun.

Malam itu di jalan kaki pulang, saya teringat kalimat seorang pemimpin spiritualis yang saya kagumi: Mohandas Gandhi, atau lebih populer dikenal sebagai Mahatma Gandhi.

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.”

March 29, 2010

Changing Someone’s Life – Forever

Filed under: My Thoughts — ohgo @ 2:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Well.. Have you ever thought that you possess the ability to change another human being’s life… I mean, forever?
Actually I think you do. All of us do.

One beautiful case would be this man. Emannuel Jal used to be a child soldier, living in a war zone and among corpses. Rescued by an aid worker, the child now has grown up to be an international hip hop singer. The song he sang in the video was dedicated to his savior. I almost cried watching this one. The workers were probably saving hundreds of life everyday – what is the chance they would’ve thought that one of the kids would be an internationally-recognized singer? And sing a song for them? It’s completely stunning!

These parents show similar passions. Adoption of children, to be parents of them who have lived without ones, is already hard enough for many parents. Yet these couples did more: they took the special-need ones. They never considered the impaired had less right of an affectionate family than the luckier ones. Well, of course even if not adopted, the children will still be alive for the next couple of years. But ever since the family took them in, they had make differences to the kids’ lives, forever! I really wonder if I will be brave enough to do the same.

Long story short, I just think that if we were born with such a lucky circumstances (physical abilities, families, etc) it’s not only our own lives we shoulder of. There are lots and lots of others. And don’t fool ourselves telling that we can do nothing, as we certainly have the power to make those lives better.


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January 27, 2010

Heroes without Medals

Filed under: Uncategorized — ohgo @ 5:13 pm
Tags: , ,

What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?
That is how this poem by Taylor Mali begins. Quite an interesting question, isn’t it? It makes me stop and think XD

Teacher is arguably not a dream job for many people now. It is so underestimated! What Teachers Make got some encouraging words on this idea, widening those minds who aren’t aware of teachers’ dedication. The video is really enjoyable with Talor Mali’s stunning delivery. Definitely worth your 3 mins 🙂

PS: Mr. Mali has some videos on this poem, demonstrating different spirit and style inside them. I personally like this one, but feel free to check the other versions ^^ Now you tell me, what have your teachers make of you?


What Teachers Make
By Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is, “What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the urge to remind the other dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.

“I mean, you¹re a teacher, Taylor,” he says.
“Be honest. What do you make?”

And I wish he hadn’t done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
which is, if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence.
No, you can not work in groups.
No, you can’t ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored, and you don’t really have to go, do you?

You want to know what I make?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home at around dinner time:
Hi, this is Mr Mali, I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something that your son did today.
He said, “Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?”
And it was the noblest act of courage that I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and who they can be.

You want to know what I make?
I make kids wonder
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And then hide it on their final drafts in English.

I make them realize that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if somebody tries to judge you
based what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?

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