Category Archives: Love

How To Love.

Love by knowing that everything is temporary. Love by knowing that it will not last forever. Love by knowing that it could be the first and the last, the best and the worst, the only one or another one. Love by knowing that nothing is permanent. Love by knowing that this moment can make and break the rest.


Love by giving it all out. Love by seeing it whole instead of seeing it partially. Love by loving it all in. Love by knowing that the person in front of you are made of mistakes and tears and wounds and past regrets, as well as wonder and wisdom, hopes and promises, present dreams and future longings. Love by seeing the other person as who they were, who they are, and who they could turn out to be.

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Love by being fully present during the best and the worst of times, by bringing your highest self to the table first and foremost, by knowing that everything that is pouring out of you would be none other than love and respect, understanding and compassion, happiness and acceptance.

Love by knowing that people get hurt sometimes, that people has to go through their darkest days and alleyways, that some are trying hard to keep their heads above the water every now and then–and though wherever they are and whatever they are going through may not be able to keep the two of you together, you would still love them nonetheless, since being separated from each other does not make you love them any less.

Love by storing the best memories until they are ripe with meanings, by blowing away the worsts to the winds until they slowly disappear. Love by being honest about how you feel and how you want to feel, about what makes you sad and what makes you happy. Love by knowing that you can’t share something you do not have, by understanding that no matter how much someone loves you, they can never make you feel full if you feel empty when you’re alone. Love by asking yourself every single day, what would I do if love and respect myself; and what would I do if I love and respect the one I love?

Love by listening to the unspoken, by speaking without words, by seeing without judging, by being emphatic of the oblivious. Love by being aware that each words spoken, each gestures presented, and each moments shared could bloom or wilt a soul; that it takes only a second of carelessness to leave a scar that would faint but won’t completely disappear, that it takes only a second of mindfulness to leave a loving memory that would spark someone’s inner light brighter than ever.


Love by knowing that everything is temporary. Love by knowing that it will not last forever. Love by knowing that it could be the first and the last, the best and the worst, the only one or another one. Love by knowing that nothing is permanent. Love by knowing that this moment can make or break the rest.

Love kindly. Love courageously. Love thoroughly.

“We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.”

— Ernest Hemingway.

The One Who Never Leaves.

All of us have that one person in our lives: the one who never leaves.

The one who never leaves is both always and never around. He is here, but at the same time, he isn’t.



You cannot hold his hands or kiss his cheek or hug him from behind anytime you like. He is not going to text-flirt you or call you every single day or pick you up for a night-out (that will end up with an episode of snuggling in a couch, talking about dead authors and unheard poems). He may not give you presents on your birthdays or send you postcards from faraway places when he travels. You cannot run to him when you’re having a breakdown and cry on his shoulders–seeking a familiar comfort on the slope of his neck that you have known by heart.

At first, you think you love and hate him with a more or less similar intensity. However, the more you try to hate him, the more you realize that you can’t. Of course, he is not perfect. He has his own flaws. He has his own issues. But he has also loved you and hurt you so deep, to the extent that both the love and the wounds have transformed you completely–you will never see the world the same way ever again.

And then you get it.

You can’t hate him simply because you love him too much to be able to hate him. After all the ups and downs, fireworks and turmoils, late night romance and silent tears, no matter how sad and lonely you feel, deep down inside you know that all you really want is for him to be happy. It surprises you, at times, that you are actually capable of loving someone that way.

The one who never leaves will always be around as you’re stepping into the milestones of your life: a relocation to an exotic country, an international best-selling book, an around-the-world trip for a year, a death in the family, an engagement, a marriage, a first child. He may be there to congratulate or console you (either in person or via Facebook), or he may not. But you know that he is (and will always be) the first person that comes to mind when you’re having these big moments in your life. And for a while, in the midst of euphoria or tragedy, he reminds you of the person you were, the person you always are, and the person you choose to be.

The one who never leaves is there inside of you as you’re listening to your favorite songs. When you’re visiting beautiful places and dancing with beautiful strangers. When you’re having a cup of coffee, gazing out the window, and realizing that you’re looking at such a lovely view. He is in your heart when you’re spending your time doing the things you love, as you’re falling in and out of love with somebody new, when you finally have the courage to kiss someone and be vulnerable again after a long time.

You know that this is how the two of you arethat you have gone your separate ways and lived your separate lives. No matter how close you are to the one who never leaves, there is also a distance now–one that is not merely physical–that you cannot trespass; unless he allows you to. But you will never know if that will happen, or whether you would want to cross that distance once again. So you are moving on with your life, your heart has healed from its swells and bruises and only gotten stronger.

If you’d like to be really honest, there will always be a glimmer of hope, no matter how faint, that the one who never leaves will be the one you can hold and hug and kiss every single day, the one you can cuddle and snuggle with whenever you feel like it, the one you can wake up to in the morning and fall asleep with at the end of a lovely evening. But soon, you ditch that hope and smile as you slip into another sunny day of yours, knowing that life is good the way it is. He has appeared in your life and you know that it’s enough of a blessing in itself.

Today, whether he’s here or not does not really matter anymore–and it does not bother you at all. Because despite everything, you know that he will always be the one who never leaves.

About Someone Who Loves You.

One day, you’ll understand that the highest compliment you could ever receive is having someone who is with you; instead of having someone who wants to be with you.


By then, you’ve learned the hard way: that promises are not that difficult to break, that people don’t always mean what they say, and that hearts will always change its course. When the day comes, you’ll just get it: that the highest compliment you could ever receive has nothing to do with having someone who wants to spend the rest of his life with you. The highest compliment you could ever receive–on the contrary, has everything to do with having the one who is with you: right here, right now.

The most precious gift one can give you is time: the willingness to spend one’s time with you–conscious about the fact that one will never know how much time one has left in the world. What makes us think that we will always have more time? What makes us believe that there will come a perfect day when we will feel better and stronger and bolder… and only when the day comes, then we can offer more of ourselves and our love to the one that deserves it? How do we know that this perfect day will ever come? And even if this perfect day does come to us, what makes us think that the one we love will still be around?

One day, you’ll understand that I-miss-you is actually one of the saddest word one could ever say to you. You used to blush and giggle to the sight or sound of the three words, until you started to hear the unspoken words accompanying the three. I-miss-you means I-want-to-be-with-you (but I’m not). I-miss-you means I-want-things-to-go-back-the-way-they-used-to-be (but they’re not). I-miss-you means I-want-us-to-be-together (but we’re not). Now you realize that there are conscious options in every I-miss-yous; conscious options not to do something about it but simply saying it–though we know that we may not have more time.

The best I-miss-you one could ever get is the I-miss-you that is never spoken. Because the one who wants to be with you is there with you; the one who wants things to go back the way they used to be is currently making an effort to do so; and the one who wants the two of you to be together is sitting by your side: holding you as if it’s the most pressing thing in the world one is supposed to do.

Someone who loves you doesn’t need to hear a promise of forever-ever-after. Someone who loves you is not waiting to finally end up with the best version of yourself. Someone who loves you is not looking forward to the day when you can offer what you think she deserves.

Someone who loves you simply wants to be with you–for who you are, with all your flaws and imperfections, right here, right now. Someone who loves you simply wants to hold your hand and look into your eyes in silence and kiss you and smile at you with all of her being and tell you how much she feels for you, right here, right now. Someone who loves you knows that we have no idea about how much time we have left in the world, and precisely because of that, someone who loves you makes a brave and conscious option to spend that time with none other but you: right here, right now.

So be here. So be there.

Take This Dance.

At first it was as if someone was brushing their gaze on you; like a soft touch on your bare shoulders–something light and airy and wonderful, like a luminescent feather oscillating in the dark; and then slowly, you felt the heat built up around you and the intensity got heightened; the feather was burning with blinding lights of fireworks; and then you caught his eyes from the other end of the room–something that lit up in the midst of swaying dark shadows and beers and music and half-drunk conversations; and he smiled, and you smiled back, until one of you lowered your gaze shyly, and the other did, too; but you knew that once the ancient ritual had started, it was bound to happen anyhow.


It was the first quarter of the day, morning was just around the corner–but under the strobe lights, the music was still blaring and the crowd was still cheering and the night was still too young–and so you caught him gazing your way again and you gazed his way again, and again, and again, and you smiled, and he smiled, and then you realized that this evening was your last–one of those now-or-never kind of moment that you would cherish or regret; and so you said what-the-f**k and invited him for your last dance in a city that had robbed your heart when you were still finding ways to not fall in love with it. And so he took your hand, circled his arms around your waist, fixed his gaze upon you; and the rest was history.


There were times when you couldn’t capture the detailed outlines of the flower petals or the trees or the clouds or the skyscrapers because it seemed like time flew away so fast, too fast–and you could only recall the blurry feeling of cotton candies and marshmallows and merry-go-rounds; and you remembered feeling fuzzy and warm and comfortable and both of you were whirling in concentric motions, throwing your heads in the air as you were laughing while clinging into each other’s arms and you felt the world around you moved faster and faster and faster as if it was seen from a kaleidoscope: where the tube of mirrors and pieces of colored glass produces changing patterns as it was being rotated by some random tiny little hands; waiting for some sort of magic to start appearing before your eyes.

And suddenly you came to notice that your feet were not even touching the ground anymore; as he had lifted you up high in the air and his moves took you orbiting in circles–faster and faster and faster, and you were giggling and closing your eyes and holding on to him tighter and tighter and tighter–until gently, he put you back on the floor–both of you were sweating and laughing and the world was silent for a moment while the two of you were looking into each other’s eyes; the lights above you were becoming brighter and brighter and brighter; the chatter dissipated–and it was as if emptiness enveloped you from all corners of the room. The music had long stopped and you heard nothing but your irregular breathings and heartbeats, and it was then when you realized that he had literally swept you off your feet.


*photo credit: piotrpazola via photopin cc

The Answer.

What does it mean to get The Answer?

This question crossed my mind one cold and wet evening, as my friend and I sat at the corner table. She was having a plate of chicken teriyaki and I was facing my Fettuccine Alfredo. The old restaurant was surprisingly busy on a weekday. People kept coming through the front door. Last order was just an hour away. I glanced outside the window and made a wish for the rain to stop when we closed our bill, so that we could stay dry as we walked back home.

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After several months of lovely and confusing pseudo-relationship, she decided to manage her expectation and guard her heart. And so, she posed The Question. “I am not asking you to do anything. I just need to manage my expectation,” she said, as they sat side by side under a strange sky in a strange country, faraway from home and past memories. “I love what we have. And I will want to have it as long as possible. But at the same time, I need to protect my heart, too. I only need to know whether this will go further than a summer fling; or not. That’s all. That way, I can prepare my heart, so I won’t hurt myself again.”

He gritted his teeth and responded right away with, “It’s NOT a summer fling! I really believe in what we have, in what we share. I love the idea of us as much as you do. And I want you to know that from the very beginning.”

She felt her heart leapt a little bit.

“But the fact is, I have a girlfriend,” he went on. “And we’re about to get married at the end of the year.”

Something sunk in her chest. She felt that familiar pain, again. She was not immune to that, no matter how often she had been exposed to such situation.

So she decided to put an end to it. She knew that they wouldn’t go anywhere. He was about to get married. There was no future in it. She didn’t want to get hurt again. So she bid him what-she-thought-to-be farewell. But he refused to leave her. And she could not deny the chemistry. The signs. The bond. She could not deny her heart. But the clock was ticking. So she posed The Question, again.

“We can’t go on like this,” she said, a bit frustrated. “I need to know where we’re going. You’re about to get married. So why are we here? Why are we doing this?”

“I love you,” he said. The answer almost everyone would want to hear. “I could not betray my feelings, too. I’ve made up my mind. I’ll talk to my girlfriend and her family. I want to be with you.”

And with that, she had The Answer–something most of us want: certainty, affirmation, commitment. She smiled with all of her beings. With The Answer, for the first time after those bittersweet months, she finally found both her official permission, and her safety net. To open up. To dream of a future. To be vulnerable. To pour her heart out. To fall in love completely.

Three months later, she received a wedding invitation. From him. She wasn’t the bride.


“So, what does it mean to get The Answer?” I asked myself when she finished her story that evening.

I realized that The Answer could come in many forms: from the three-word I-love-you thing to a reply to your text message; an invitation to watch movies, a “you’re beautiful” whisper, the changes in someone else’s Facebook profile from single to in a relationship, a marriage proposal, a wedding ring, the “imaginary lights” in his eyes whenever he looks at you. And we always think that we need The Answer. To move on. To have a closure. To be sure. To be double sure. To decide on what we want to do. To find out whether we should or should not fall in love completely. I felt this way before, too. There were numerous times when I persevered too much in getting The Answer; to the point that they started to feel like lame excuses.

When we came to think about it, The Answer does NOT guarantee anything. We think that we’ll feel certain when we have The Answer, although we know full well that there’s no such thing as certainty in life.

As I finished my Fettuccine Alfredo and sipped my lime juice, it became clear to me that while a lot of people are trying as hard as they can to get The Answer, getting it doesn’t really matter much. Such is life. People say the things they do not mean. People say things they really mean but then change their minds. Heart finds a new object of affection. People grow together and then grow apart. Having The Answer would not make us immune from hurt and pain.

Why do we need to get The Answer from someone else to decide on what we want to do: on whether we want to smile or weep; move on or fall in love? Why do we need to be certain about something when we know that life is full of uncertainties? What is wrong with not knowing and be okay with that? Because even when we have The Answer, we will always find another question to ask.


What we talk about when we don’t talk about love.

We talk about words. About how they form stories from memories: of places, and faces, and feelings. We talk about warmth–as we go about our days and being reminded constantly by each other’s presence, or absence, knowing that the longing is mutual. We talk about poems, and how random words can actually make up something so beautiful–the way random encounters with random strangers by the beach sometimes do. We talk about haikus and Kerouac, of the feeling of being here and there, of being nowhere and everywhere–as the idea of us in each other’s arms fills the air.

Well, here I am
2 PM
what day is it?

No telegram today
only more leaves

Drunk as a hoot owl, 
writing letters 
by thunderstorm.*

We talk about fixing coffee and tea, about breakfast in bed and the joy of preparing meals for dinner time. We talk about traveling around the world and staying at home for two weeks in a row when the Internet is down–about how both possibilities seems fascinating simply because we are together. We talk about material gains and spiritual paths, about the books we are writing and the projects we are working on; about business ideas and dead musicians, about dark humor and classic movies, about dogs and cats and rain and thunderstorms. We talk about being stuck in a traffic jam for 2 hours, about sea-glass and cartoon characters, about disrupting the market and financing options, and about how wonderful we feel in each other’s embrace.

We talk about history and ancient temples. About a family island that has been passed down from generation to generation for over 400 years. We talk about the idea of something that remains constant for so long, about how amazing and romantic it is, and questioning whether the things we hold of importance today will still be around in many years to come–and that we certainly hope so**.

We talk about cities and their different vibes. About how some have consistent flows of interaction–where we will always be in regular contact with people and energy, while the rest are filled with dead zones. About how, similar to life, sometimes it’s best not to prepare too much and too far ahead, and just jump in when we get there**. We talk about flowers and their different appearance. About how some are trying so hard with beautiful shapes and colors and complicated configurations of petals, while the rest are just there: as plain and honest as flowers could, swaying happily as the wind caresses their simple florets; couldn’t care less about trying to impress.

We talk about dreams and fears; the things that make us laugh and the things that make us cry. We talk about the way we hurt–about how pain is a true sensation of life: one we can’t hide from if we really want to grow and understand all that life has to offer us.** We talk about happiness; about following our bliss in the midst of turmoils and uncertainties; about the way we find each other as we’re manifesting our hearts’ desires. We talk about how the timing may not be ideal, but somehow perfect in every way–as we have hurt enough to mature, and have loved enough to see each other in a childlike manner: with a sense of wonder, of being amazed and joyful when it comes to those everyday little things we see in each other.

And we talk about life. About how life is good when the other is in it–in any form: be it a song, a word, a picture, or best of all, in a touch.**


*) from Jack Kerouac’s American Haiku
**) from M’s letters.
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The Beauty of Not Knowing.

It’s about not knowing where we should go or what to do next the rest of the day. Just like one drizzly morning when we sat at the Green House, surrounded by porridge bowls, plates of American breakfast, cups of coffee, and glasses of juice. We pushed them all aside before you drew four lines on a piece of paper and wrote down MON TUE WED on the top of each space.

It should be our schedule, despite the fact that you wrote only one place for us to visit each day and left the rest of the columns empty. “Wow. The schedule looks so… zen.” We laughed to that, but in a way, it was actually darn philosophical.


It’s about not knowing the highlight of every day because our days got lost beneath Singapore’s cloudy sky and tangled sheets and the constant appearance of little gifts in bubble-wrap envelopes. My memories captured too many small details of your wonderful presence, but I loved the way you touched your chin when you were in deep concentration; typing away by the window overlooking the Esplanade, as well as your delicate way of brewing me a cup of chamomile in the afternoon.

It’s about not knowing why we were here at the first place, as we walked hand in hand through the concrete jungle–not even trying to question things. It was like that rainy day at the Art Science Museum when we sat in the darkness at the 4th floor, watching the mesmerizing “Sound of Ikebana: Four Seasons” by Naoko Tosa. Nobody else was around as we let ourselves drenched in the beauty of haikus and the vibration of kaleidoscopic paint caused by sound waves. We went there to see Eames, but we ended up here. It sounded too us.


I still don’t know about a lot of things–apart from more than 400 long letters and the irresistible charm of your battling eyelashes as you recite a poetry from Hafiz; or how safe it feels just to lay my head down on your chest, listening to your heartbeat–as if the whole world has been compressed into this crippling second on earth; and suddenly, not knowing about what or how or why doesn’t really bother me at all.

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And So, You Did.

“The fact that you’re always happy can be annoying at times,” said A.

Your first response came out as, “I am not always happy!”
And A came back immediately with, “Yes, you are!”

You knew he was half-joking. Well, no. You wanted to believe that he was half-joking. Because contrary to popular belief, you are actually capable of being sad. It’s just that you have decided long ago to be sad somewhere else, behind locked doors, away from the crowd. You wanted to tell A that you had just burst into tears six days ago–when you were about to go to bed and suddenly felt the urge to cry for no apparent reason. A wave of sadness hit you hard from somewhere deep inside, and the next thing you knew, tears were flowing down your cheek. You cried a good cry, letting them all out–whatever they were–sobbing to a pack of tissue until your eyes were swollen red and you felt out of breath.

That night, you cried until you fell asleep.

You wanted to tell A all this, to let him know that he was wrong. But you didn’t. It didn’t seem like something that you could share on a bright Friday morning, when the two of you were just lazying around in a coffee shop, trying to catch up with each other’s lives. Another part of you thought that explaining such thing was simply pointless. And at the time, you just didn’t feel like explaining yourself to anyone.


You still don’t know why you burst out crying that night. Probably there are some repressed feelings or memories from your past that needs to heal–or probably you just feel really vulnerable because you’ve opened up yourself so much to someone lately. Maybe, subconsciously, you are afraid. The last time you were being vulnerable and dropped your guards down, you got hurt real bad. You didn’t see that one coming, and you fell flat on your face. It was good to get hurt that way, though. Because when it hit you that hard, something snapped inside of you. You realized that you love yourself enough to not let people treat you badly. You told yourself to be careful next time.

And then you met him.


A few days ago, he told you how he loved the movie, Up. You remember that movie well; that you cried several times when you watched it a long time ago. For some reasons, one of the things that struck you in the opening was the always-there realization on how people were so used to think that they would have more time. That there would always be tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year–and then suddenly realized that they had run out of time. So they started to look back in despair, seeing the things they had missed out in life, the things that was once possible but had now become impossible. The movie always reminds you to live every moment as if it was your last–and to live a life without what-ifs.

You remember this one time, a few months ago, when you asked yourself, “What if I said hello to that guy over there?”

And so, you did.

Close to midnight, you found yourself sitting next to him on the sun bed by the beach; listening to the sound of the waves as he gently wrapped his fingers around yours. The warmth enveloped you despite the seaside chill; and you remember looking up to the sky, then pointing at the stars–oblivious to the fact that at that very moment, Mars formed a nearly perfectly straight line with Castor and Pollux, the two brightest stars of the constellation Gemini. Merkaba activation, they said, when the planetary alignment create a bridge to Spirit through our Hearts. You can’t really digest those things, but they sound wonderful, like some kind of fairy tales from a faraway place, somewhere in the Milky Way.


You bid him farewell once, thinking that you would never see him again. You’ve been so used to it, saying goodbye to people’s back as they walk away from you, because people never mean what they say. But he proved you wrong. And he proved you wrong again, and again, and again. Despite the distance, the two of you bridge it with more than a hundred and sixty thousand words and glimpses of each other’s lives. Sometimes you wish that you could do more than just saying endless thank-yous, to show him how much you appreciate all the wonderful little things he has done. You wonder if he really know.

You wrote about Retrouvailles once, the happiness of meeting again after a long time.  You mentioned about leaving your front door open, and you were glad that you did. Moreover, because it was him that walked through that open door, stretching the vast possibility just to prove you wrong, once again. But you’ve got the message this time, loud and clear: there is nothing else left to prove. And the last thing you want is for him to prove anything. You want him to just be. Because since the very beginning, even without the need to even try, he has made you believe in an abnormally perfect fall. And although you will never know for sure about how life will finally unfold; you want to believe: that someone will actually catch you this time.

Even being thousands of miles away, you bring me calm like I haven’t felt forever | M

photo credit: Ricky Flores via photopincc


An Abnormally Perfect Fall.

Aku masih saja dibuat takjub akan sekian pertemuan yang nyaris terlewatkan–tetapi tidak. Seperti malam itu; ketika aku merasa nyaris putus asa dan tak lagi berharap akan menemukan (si)apa-(si)apa–kemudian langkahku memotong langkahmu secara tak sengaja dan kita bersua, begitu saja, seperti sudah seharusnya.


Kau merupa segala yang kuimpikan dan lebih. Terkadang membuatku takut, ketika hal-hal yang sudah lama kuangankan diam-diam kau jatuhkan tepat di atas pangkuanku, satu-satu: seperti jawaban atas doa-doa yang bahkan tak berani kuucapkan keras-keras. Jujur, terkadang aku meragu. Juga menunggu kapan semua ini akan berhenti pelan-pelan. Sudah lebih dari 100.000 kata kini, dan kita masih saja terhubung pada saat-saat yang bertepatan, seperti hari ketika aku berdiri di tepi pantai di Uluwatu dan mengirimkan sebongkah rindu pada ombak yang bergulung-gulung pergi; dan malam harinya, hujan turun di atasmu, 16.849 kilometer jauhnya dari sini. Kau katakan padaku saat itu bahwa kau bisa merasakan hatiku dalam setiap rintik yang menetesi kepalamu. Malam itu, kau sengaja membasahi dirimu meskipun biasanya kau lebih suka menikmati hujan dari dalam ruangan.

Lalu aku teringat malam ketika kita duduk di beranda untuk yang terakhir kali. Pada saatnya, aku luluh dalam tatapmu–dan tiba-tiba saja kata-kata menghilang dari kepalaku. Jadi kita terdiam berhadapan, lama. Rasanya tak seperti jeda yang harus diisi apa-apa. Kita tersenyum. Tertawa. Memandang ke arah yang sama.

Sepertinya kita bercakap dalam diam malam itu–tetapi entah bagaimana, kau membuat hatiku merasa bahwa untuk pertama kalinya, aku tak perlu ragu membiarkan diriku jatuh.