A Basketful of Cherries

Rainy-Day-Moon-Over-Paris

Rainy Day Moon Over Paris by Artist KJ Carr


Reading Adam Gopnik began as an incident. It was another day strolling in perhaps Taiwan’s most lovely second-hand bookstore, Mollies, near National Taiwan University. There, in the basement, hidden within hundred of books stored neatly in two big black drawer, Paris to the Moon seemed oddly placed among some random self-help and politic books. Hard-cover with a black and white picture of a child playing in front of some French style building, it was hard not to looked at it.

But not until reading the advance praises for the book, written in the back cover, one truly felt that one finally found a treasure after a brief moment of random searching. No less than John Updike himself praised the book as having a “fireworks results, lighting up not just the Eiffel Tower.”

There were also comments from Malcolm Gladwell, Jeffrey Toobin, and some exotic name-at least in my ear- Francine du Plessix Gray, whom I’ve never heard before but turned out to be a Pulitzer Prize nominee and a literary critic. All of them are a writer or at least had been writing for The New Yorker. Indeed, Adam Gopnik himself is a writer for The New Yorker since 1986, and this book is actually his collection of essays published in the same magazine. For decades, The New Yorker deploys their staff to Paris, writing for Paris Journals section.

Well, a New Yorker sent to Paris to write about it. Wasn’t that interesting?

Continue reading

Supporters

Modern superhero is an illusion.

No matter how great we are, one man show is nothing but a rarity. We are bound to, as Bernard of Chartres put it, perched on the shoulders of giants. Modern superhero is an illusion, because in them, the shoulders are hidden.

Or perhaps, a house will make a better metaphor. You’ll never have that wonderfully decorated blue wall without a foundation to support it. I remember vividly, whenever I go with my father to oversee the building he build, the foundation will be one of the most discussed topic.

Have you dig deep enough? Is the strongest column prepared yet? Do you double-check the measurement?

These tell us something obvious. Whatever you’re looking—or maybe admiring-at, there is always something behind. Things that are more than what meets the eye. Things that sustain.

A supporters.  Continue reading

25

Entah mengapa, agaknya akan selalu ada yang istimewa dengan 25 sehingga kadang Ia diasosiasikan dengan kualitas perak, si logam mulia itu, seperti di ulang tahun perkawinan. Dalam panjang nafas seorang, Ia boleh disebut telah hidup “seperempat abad” lamanya.

Padahal mulanya 25, seperti juga 24 sebelum atau 26 sesudahnya, sekedar angka biasa yang bahkan baru ditemukan oleh bangsa India tahun 500 Masehi. Namun ketika bergandeng dengan usia, 25 tidak mampir sebagai angka belaka, tapi juga makna—sebuah maksud atau pengertian yang diberikan— macam “perak” dan “seperempat abad” tadi.

Ia bisa membanggakan, jadi tanda sebuah kematangan, syukur jika kedewasaan. Tapi kadang tentu menakutkan. Banyak yang bilang, seiring waktu, kita makin jarang melihat usia dengan simbol matematika “tambah,” ketimbang dengan “kurang.” Semakin tua, kita lebih sering menghitung waktu yang tersisa, daripada momen yang sudah dilewati sejak permulaan. Jika tahun ini, angka harapan hidup di Indonesia ialah 72 tahun, mencapai 25 berarti hidup hanya tinggal kurang dari dua pertiga. Menginjak 25, dengan kata lain, ialah menjadi tua.

Dan siapa yang tak takut menjadi tua? Continue reading

Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine

image source: post-gazette.com

image source: post-gazette.com

Ada yang mengecewakan ketika membaca buku kedua Eric Weimer, Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine —yang saya beli ketika obral di toko buku.

Barangkali karena ekspektasi berlebih mengingat buku pertama Eric, The Geography of Bliss, yang mengisahkan perjalanannya sebagai penggerutu yang mencari kebahagiaan, adalah bacaan menawan. Saya sedikit bangga waktu mempromosikan buku itu ke sejumlah kawan, karena mereka ikut terpesona dengannya.

Tapi tidak kali ini. Continue reading

On Running

"at least he never walk"

“at least he never walk”

“Why do we keep on running?”

The question pops up in my mind as I jog around the dazzling route of Yangmingshan National Park—home for the tallest peak in Taipei City, Qixing Mountain.

I am in the middle of my evening jog, starting from Chinese Culture University, with the Yangmingshan Bus Station as the goal. It is the last stop for a bus from the city. From there, people should take a smaller minibus if they want to explore the mountain.

It is around 4.30 PM and Yangmingshan views are great as usual. The weather is perfect. As I run along the curvy road, I can see the greenery valley on my left and the sun setting down in far away sky. The road is calm. Only several cars and buses coming along in my hour or so of jogging. Along the road, there’s also a small river, flowing to somewhere only God know. Continue reading

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