philosophy

1st Year at Middlebury College

Well, Ma, here is the blog post you wanted me to write, hahah…

I am sitting here outside of Atwater dining hall, having eaten breakfast. The sun is bright and yellow, a lemon in the sky. The breeze is soft, but crisp upon my skin. Everything is a garden salad, a burst of summer colors. It’s truly been a remarkable year to start college.

1st Semester

The first semester I had to take classes online because the US embassy in Indonesia was closed. Hard is an understatement to describe what it felt to begin your first year of college sitting in front of a laptop screen, zooming for 3 hours straight every night, wishing with every email describing upcoming activities that you were there too, in person, to meet people and stroll through campus grounds. At first I didn’t want to start college online. I desperately wanted to take a gap semester–learn coding, exercise, cook, play with my sisters, do the Global Citizen Academy program. But my parents pushed, nagged, and coaxed me to start online. They said, who knows what will happen in the future? What if next semester you wouldn’t be able to go again and you would take a gap year, graduate late, etc…

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Polar Ends of a Continuum

Happiness is the smell of rich earth and dew clad grass after a showery night; pink petals fluttering beneath a startling blue Kyoto sky; how my cat snuggles into my lap as it rains outside; the wind grazing my skin and the morning sun nuzzling my face; the taste of salty ocean breeze and the waves lapping at my sand-sunken toes; the soft dongs and tinkles of gamelan at a family’s wedding; harmonizing with the choir as we sing traditional Indonesian songs during the weekly flag ceremony at school. Happiness is the beauty of nature and music.

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The World in Color

Sometimes I see the world through its reflections

in the murky puddles on the ground

in wayward mirrors casting distortions

or even shadows jumping from behind.

 

Sometimes I see the world in true proportions

Without any of the crazy contortions

And when I do

—although it’s rare—

I pause to take a snapshot with my eyes

Relish the moment of that rare exception

so I’ll remember it

even when the world subsides.

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The Meaning of Hijab

When asked about my reasons for wearing a hijab, I answered, “It’s what good Muslim women should do.”

The questioner was quick to respond. As she voiced her opinion of my textbook answer, I immediately regretted my words. The reason for regret was that I didn’t always wear a hijab. I might be what some people would call kerdus or cardboard, a negative term used to describe on-off wearers of the garment. Moreover, as my questioner pointed out, there are good Muslim women who don’t wear a hijab.

Then where was the fault? Did the reluctance to wear a hijab mean I was a bad Muslim? Or was there something inherently wrong in the statement itself?

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