Thursday, 30 April 2009

Annie’s Passengers

I have an appointment soon and loads of things to do today, but I really wanna write this review. I saw Anne Hathaway’s last year’s ‘Passengers’ movie last night… and was amazed by it. I’ve seen her in Princess Diary, Devil Wears Prada, Becoming Jane (fave!), and Rachel Getting Married, and I love her in all those movies. Upon watching her action last night, I am convinced that she is a classical star… and she might be the next Audrey Hepburn or something like that. And yes, I am aware of the low stars given by various reviewers about this movie. I don’t care. I like it, for it serves as a reminder for me.

‘Passengers’ was basically telling the story of a plane crash and its survivors. Anne Hathaway was Claire Summers, the therapist for 5 people that survived the plane crash, including the sexy and persistent Eric (Patrick Wilson). Along the way, Anne’s patients started to disappear one by one, and she had to track them down and uncover the greatest mystery of her life.

Annie was amazing with her bright deer eyes, and though I have to say that Patrick Wilson’s persistent prompting was rather annoying, but they made quite a good screen couple there (still nowhere near Annie and James McAvoy in BJ!). I also enjoyed David Morse, a guy who used to be Jodie Foster’s father in ‘Contact’, and he was now one of the airline officials in ‘Passengers’ (really, gotta love this guy!). But it’s not only the acting that I was talking about.

In its deepest sense, ‘Passengers’ was not talking about thriller and suspense movie. Nay, to me, it was actually talking about death, and how people cope with death. More specifically, how the dead ones cope with their own death.

I didn’t know about this until the last five minutes of the movie when (SPOILER WARNING!)…

Claire Sommers (Anne Hathaway) finally found the complete list of passengers… which contained… her own name! Yes, Claire was actually one of the passengers onboard the starcrossed plane, and she didn’t survive the crash. None of the passengers survived the crash, not even Patrick and Anne who had just met an hour onboard the plane before the crash. Claire panicked, and I really love the way Annie portrayed a panicked person who had to come to terms with the fact that she herself had actually died. That she was a ghost.

So… was ‘Passengers’ about ghosts? Well, yeah… ghosts who resumed their life (in this case, Annie resumed her life as a therapist, David Morse resumed the life as the pilot who kept regretting that he didn’t save the plane, etc etc)… but the most important thing is that these ghosts were actually guided to find the truth. That they were dead already and that they must move on, and their guides were their loved ones who had left their lives earlier… In Claire (Annie)’s case, they were her deceased aunt Toni (who assumed to be her neighbour) and Mr. Perry, her favourite museum curator who she often talked to when she was a child (who assumed the role as Claire’s boss). In Eric’s case, it was his dead dog and deceased grandfather.
So, what’s the lesson learned? That death is naturally scary for many people, yes… but it is not so, actually. It is a natural process (though plane crash is one of the least favourable gate to death)… and trust that you will be guided in the process…

The Universe is kind, and will not let you go astray. So long as you want to see the Light… trust that you shall see It, and that you shall cross the bridge safely. Many traditions offer the salvation, the way towards inner peace. Call upon that particular Power and He/She/It will help you through. My own personal tradition reminds me of the legend of Lord Shiva who is often called the Destroyer… but is actually more than that. Lord Shiva is the Benevolent one, and also the Destroyer of Death itself. I hope I don’t forget to call upon Him, my Ishta Devata, when my time comes one day. And then I shall go home peacefully, leaving all worldly attachments in love and peace.

And this reminds me of my scheduled meditation session tonight. Have to go there… for living a meditative life would make us celebrate Life as it is, including embracing the final passing easier... when it’s time.

Pic: 'Passengers' poster from Wikipedia

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

What is Patience?

The age-old quote says that ‘Patience is a virtue’. Yes, generally speaking, we agree on that, though many people would say that being too patient has its downfall. But what is patience actually?

Patience is often associated with waiting, pain endurance, or perseverance. My focus on this post is patience related to waiting and perseverance, though mere ‘waiting’ itself often has a large dose of agony in it...

One of definition for ‘patience’ is:

“Capable of calmly awaiting an outcome or result; not hasty or impulsive”

By that definition alone, one of my best friends was correct: I am not patient. I often rush to doing something… or deciding something without carefully considering all related factors; in the name of ‘rapid response’ and ‘tactical thinking’. The result was often not to be proud of… if not total mayhem. Most definitely I am not suited for jobs like private detectives that requires my sitting for hours inside a dark-coloured car, or as a metahuman superhero who lurks around dark roofs, waiting for the evil doers to do their utterly out of sense deeds. Forget about knocking the door of the Batcave and ask for a part-time job; Batman wouldn’t even want to see me.

But patience is not only needed by those detectives and vigilantes. Patience is needed in almost all aspects of life. There is a difference between patience and sluggish, and it relates to our intentions when doing the waiting. Sluggishness happens when we know very well that we need to be quick and prompt in our actions and responses, and yet we do not do that anyway.

Patience… we know we want something and we work towards it. One by one, one small step by one small step. And when the time comes… Strike! And we win!

Just like those old martial artisans who patiently wait upon his enemies… waiting for them to make the first move. Ever watch Musashi? Great old movie. You should watch the last duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro. Classic.

But is patience always about winning?... Does it not have a deeper quality? The Zen-like quality that makes you smile from within, for you know it is good for your personal growth? Let me take you back to an event this morning, where I was floating on a little boat in the middle of the sea, waiting patiently for my dolphins to appear nearby me.

More than four dozen small boats were milled around me… as if they churned the ocean like that, the dolphins would appear from the water vortex. They did… the dolphins… appear for like 40-50 seconds before disappearing again. My boatman did nothing though ; just letting the boat afloat with the engine off. Then, out of the blue… the dolphins came to us.

We were elated, excited! They came!

… and then they left again, for as soon as they appeared, more than ten boats sped towards them. And once again, we were alone without the dolphins.

The event kept repeating itself until the boats got tired of the game and left the arena. Soon, there were only five of us, little boats floating at the big blue sea.

And then… one little dolphin jumped. Followed by another. And another. And soon… we found ourselves watching the dolphins feasting on their breakfast: juicy frigate mackerels… while we rummaged for our old boring snack to eat as we watch the dolphins. The snack was boring indeed… but the show was worth the wait.

So… coming back to my original question. What is Patience?

Now I see patience as one of the qualities or characters of alertness…awareness. It is one of the outcomes of awareness, of being alert and just BE in present moment. The Indonesian word for patience is ‘sabar’… and there is another word similar to that. ‘Disabar-sabarin’. Meaning, forcing oneself to be patient, though he/she is really truly yours faithfully NOT patient. A nice concept… which most definitely does not stem out of awareness, alertness. ‘Disabar-sabarin’ or ‘restraining yourself’ has the quality of insincerity, or at the very least mere obedience. You do not want to be patient, but you have to… otherwise a disaster will not be avoidable.

Interestingly, the very Indonesian word for ‘awareness’ or ‘being mindful’ is ‘sadar’. Sabar and Sadar. We only exchange B for D… and the whole context is different. Sabar (patience) to me is the product of Sadar (awareness). There can be no real patience without awareness.

Coming back to the example of dolphin watching, those who opt to turn off their engine and just wait for the dolphins to appear would often see that the dolphins would then appear and either approach them or swim alongside their boat. In this case, they are patient because they know that if they keep churning the waters with their noisy 12 PK outboard engine, the dolphins will unlikely appear for a significant amount of time for them to enjoy. Their awareness of the dolphin’s need of sufficient space and security lead them to turn off their engine and wait. Patiently.

And what do we do when we’re waiting patiently? We can chat with our travel mates, or talk with the boatman… or enjoy the picturesque sceneries… Or we can just sit down with straight back, relax, close our eyes… Then we breathe in and breathe out….enjoying the morning sun on our face, looking inwards to our own hearts.

Then, out of the silence, we hear that very familiar noise of ‘whoof, whoof’. The dolphin’s breathing. We open our eyes happily, knowing that they are here to see us. That they are here to grant us with their presence, thanking us for our patience.

And then we can allow ourselves a few moments of victory our patience brought us. The victory against our own impatience.

Then, what if the dolphins never come? Then, we will return home, knowing that at least we have exercised a good amount of aware waiting here… and that tomorrow we can do it again, until we see them one day. For we know that they are there to meet us… when we are ready to meet them with an open heart.

Pic 1: Siam Reap, Bayon moat. That’s my picture, by the way…
Pic 2: Batman and the dolphins! From Detective Comics #405, from Random
Pic 3: Buddha's peace within, from Infinite

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

From Romantic Relationship to Spiritual Journey

I’ve been thinking about the term ‘relationship’ lately, and how in spiritual world it seems to be counterproductive with one’s journey within. Well, from its track record, any kind of relationships – friendship, mother-daughter, father-son, or and particularly intimate relationship – often notoriously give adverse impact to one’s spiritual journey. Particularly intimate relationship, it has the large potentials to you needy, clinging, pining etc that eventually make you lose your self-respect. I often then understand how conscious people, inter alia but not limited to nuns and monks, choose to live celibate lives, for enough is enough. It is painful to go through a relationship. Why bother? Better get out and enjoy being alone.

But… but… How do I say this? I’m not saying that being alone is wrong. I think it’s great when you are alone and immensely happy with yourself. It’s great, it’s amazing. You feel whole, well… you ARE and always have been whole… and you feel that the world is in your hand. Or rather, you are melting and becoming part of the world. Part of Life. Trust me. It’s good. IT’S GREAT, and it’s peaceful. More over, it gives you time to thoroughly explore the journey within. It’s amazing and for some people – including me – it is the best thing that comes out of a single life. You become acquainted with yourself, and you are immensely happy with it. After all, Khalil Gibran put it most eloquently:

It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Sacred Moon, Sacred River: Celebrating my 5th year of living healthily

I was waiting in a domestic departure lounge for a delayed flight three nights ago when I saw a big discount in the local Periplus booth. Being a book aficionado, I had to go there and browse. That was when I found a very important book to me as a woman, and as a person: ‘Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdoms’ by Christiane Northrup, M.D. A New York Times Bestseller, and upon reading it randomly since two days ago, I have no doubts about its bestseller status.

The book is about – among others – how women’s bodies try to tell women what’s the best for them, that illness comes to tell the women what’s wrong with their lifestyle … and how the health of women is link to the health of the Earth. Completes with a great guidance of the seven chakras and how our problems with a particular chakra is likely to result in a health problem in particular organs. Very… new age. Very pagan… very me. In many ways, the book resonates well with an older post of mine about the joy of menstrual cycle, our sacred monthly rites.