A Quest for Passion

By: Abhirama Radhitya Santoso

          A doctor, a teacher, a mathematician, a contractor, a manager of a mall, a software designer, a racing driver, a policeman, a policewoman, a businessman, a businesswoman, an entrepreneur,  a man who plays videogames for a living, a vlogger, a traveler, a leader, a follower. Those are some careers that are available in this earth. Some are good, some are bad, some earn a ludicrous amount of money, some are just enough to keep you alive for the next month or two, some lead, some follow.

          Now obviously, people have different reasons for choosing their own occupations. When you ask a simple questions as “what would you like to be when you grow up?” most children will answer some common careers, such as doctors, pilots, astronauts, managers, some probably also want to continue what their parents do. When you ask high school students what they want to be when they grow up, some do answer straightforward what they would like to be, but most of the students will not be able to answer. For their three years of high school, they will be haunted by this thought. Will they be able to succeed in their future? Will their job be suitable for them? Will they even get into university? What is even their trait, their talent, their passion?

         

          5 o’clock, the sun is not even shining yet, but school is just so far away that I have to wake up this early to be there on time. The dawn of morning never changes in the equator, but this morning felt different. I was fatigued even though I slept fairly early last night. School seems to drain my energy day after day, but the thought of failure keeps echoing left and right in my brain. The light of the room now just feels bothering instead of encouraging me to get up from bed, making me feel more fatigued, even my morning prayer doesn’t give me the spirit. “This is going to be a bad day” I murmured.

          Posters of universities are glued to the walls of the local train station. The fear of failure lurks deeper in my body. In the train, a bunch of schoolmates whom I rarely talk to were spouting big university names. “I’m going to Harvard to be a great politician just like Obama!” “Well I’m going to Oxford to be able to write good books!” and for the entire train ride they take turns exchanging their goals. Just so you know, I do have goals for my future. An Aerospace Engineer in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But because that dream seems so far away to actually reach, the local universities still look good too such as ITB.

          First class for today was Career Guidance, a short class for a short introduction of universities and majors. Looking at how fatigued I am, I didn’t pay attention to a single word the teacher said at that time. On the other hand, my best friend, Harvey, was intrigued by every single majors and universities, be them science related or economics related. Harvey is a game geek, and to the best of my knowledge, he is trying to make a game of his own. I asked him if he wants to be a game designer one day and he always says no. Making a game is only his hobby, but his true passion was to be a doctor.

          On the other side of the room, Alyssa, the rival in class and the lover in my heart, sadly not hers too, was scribbling down some drawings in her notebook. Her goal was only one, Robotics, and that’s it. We are childhood friends but now rarely talk, she always closes herself in front of me.Despite that, I know her better than she knows herself. I know that she never gets happy with any of her robots in robotics club, yet she is ecstatic for every single drawing she has made. Her drawings aren’t as good as Jo’s, but I think the most important rule of being in a job is being fond of it, just as how Alyssa is to her drawings.

          Mathematics was next, and the teacher, Mr. Rudy, once favored me for always getting trophies in math competitions. But as time goes by, I find it to be tiresome and unsuitable for me. I keep losing interest in mathematics as the more competitions I joined. I wanted to create something big and meaningful for the world. I don’t want to just count meaningless numbers for the rest of my life. That is where I found Aerospace Engineering. So I resigned from being in math club and focused on physics, one of my weak points to Alyssa. Since then, he frowns upon me every time we make eye contact.

          I myself still doubt my choice of getting into Aerospace Engineering. A part of me still wants to write a book for a living. Coincidentally, my English teacher, Mr. James assigned me for a story competition. That’s good news for me, the bad news is that the 2000-word essay is due tonight at 11:59 p.m. I was about to decline this offer, yet determination fills my body as if this is a quest to find my true passion. “Even though this is a sudden request, I’ll do my best sir.” I said to Mr. James. “I know you would, Cooper” he replied. He gave me permission to skip class and start writing instantly.

          I continued at home, writing as good as I can as fast as I can. I find this to be weird for it’s a new activity for me. Even my mother finds it odd seeing me write an article. Despite my fatigued state, I continued to march on until I finally reached the 2000-word mark. Never have I felt so happy writing a story. I looked at the clock just to see it is 11:23 p.m. I submitted the file to Mr. James for it to be sent immediately to the competition committee.

          Tomorrow morning, after my marvelous writing marathon, I wake up to re-read my story. It is Saturday so I don’t have any worries about school. As I re-read it, I realized that my story was no different than the cheesy romance novel the girls at school read. I have no expectation for it, other than expecting it to be one of the worst in the competition, and that expectation is correct. A few days later, it is my birthday and the results rolled in and as expected, I was around 5th last. Mr. James gives me a pat on the back for trying however I can still feel his slight disappointment from me. What a great birthday present this is.

          On my way home, I stopped at the local mosque, trying to find help from god. The past few days have been a rollercoaster of emotions that I need time to connect and relax with him. I prayed hard for one hour just for two reasons. “God, please give me tranquility. Give me stability and help me feel whole. My mind is now silent, quiet and still. I give thanks for calming energy as a wish you fulfill.”

“God, please give me a sign of my passion. Let it be an engineer, a writer, or something else. Let me be happy of my future. For me, my children, my parents, and you, God.”

         

          As I were to go home, a familiar man approaches me. It is Dodi, the child of the head staff of the mosque. He has difficulty talking and learning, yet he never forgets to pray at the mosque. In every Friday prayer, his voice is the loudest when saying “amen”. “Wehr ar yu goin?” asked Dodi. “I’m going home” I answered

oh..ok..hey..ken ai esk yu a kuesion?”

What is it, Dodi?”

wat du yu wan tu bi?”

An aerospace engineer will never be able to be imagined by him so I answered

“A writer”

ohh..dats griit!”

“What do you want to be?”

ohh..im steying hir. In dis mosk.”

“Why? Won’t that be boring?”

no..ai laik it hir. Ai em hepi hir. It all dat metter.”

“Dodi!” His father called. “YEEESSSSS” Dodi replied loudly.

I go out of the mosque after Dodi leaves me.

          In front of the mosque, i am shocked. Alyssa is right there, as if she is waiting for someone. “Are you..... waiting for Dodi?”. Alyssa smiles. I know she is not impressed by my joke, but why is she smiling at me? Do i smell funny? Is there a stain in my face? Is my zipper down? “I heard your talk with Dodi, and he was right.” Says Alyssa.

“What do you mean?” i asked as we walked towards the sun.

“He was right. Do something you are happy to do. That way you will find your passion.”

“So you are going to arts?”

“What are you talking about? Of course i’m going to Robotics. There is only one problem.”

Her hair flows as gusts of wind hit our pathway. Dried leaves on the street hit our feet, making that crunching sound as we step on them.

“Father never agrees on me going to robotics. He doesn’t agree even in me making robots. If I bring my robots home, father would just destroy them in my sleep. That is why i cry everytime i make robots, they look so innocent, so perfect, yet so fragile. I keep them all in the robotics room not because i want the school to see my work, rather they are not safe with me. That is also why i smile when i draw. I always draw my robots, Cooper. They are the only things in the world to make me smile, i just don’t know what to do in this state.”

The sun starts to slowly set down, casting shadows around her eyelashes, which fluttered rapidly as she caught me looking at her eyes. I quickly divert my eyes to the road.

“You know, life is not always a straight line. There will be mountains that you should climb, and you are dealing now with mount Everest. Going the opposite way your parents are raising you is always the hardest. Remember, you are the pilot of your life. You can do whatever you want in your life but you are still responsible for any action you do. Now, your job is to prove that you are responsible enough to pursue Robotics.”

          We both walked in the sunset just as if we were children again. I see her house in the distance, covered up in smoke. We rushed hurriedly. Alyssa is still worried about her parents especially her father despite his recent actions to her. When they arrived, they are petrified, seeing books and toys and robots burned in front of her house. Alyssa can’t hold her hatred to her father anymore. She cried histerically on my shoulder, her heart is broken by his own father. She has no one to trust anymore. She hugs me, for the first and maybe the last time, running away from home crying. There i am petrified from the second time. By the time i realized what happened, she is already gone. And at that time also, Alyssa’s father and I made eye contact, i can’t decipher what he is seeing in me, it’s as if he has no sympathy for his one and only daughter, and now she is gone. I walk away from him, just shaking my head.

          Tomorrow is still school, everyone goes to school as usual. What’s different is that Alyssa is not here, not even her robots in the robotics room. I suspect two things of what happened to her robots, either Alyssa takes it all and leaves school for good or those robots burned yesterday were the robots in the robotics room. One thing i know, is that maybe none of her schoolmates, even Cooper himself, be able to see her again. Harvey noticed my gloomy mood today, yet he does not care because he has good news. “Hey Cooper! Will you be my voice actor for this new game i made?” “Why should I be your voice actor? I have terrible voice.” I pessimistically answered. “And that’s why i need you.” Answered Harvey. “You are terrible at making people encouraged”. Besides, how can being a voice actor change my life? My goal will still be Aerospace Engineering.

10 years after graduation, we have a meet up in a local restaurant. In the TV shows a famous cartoon, adored by both adult and children. I arrived a little late, but just enough to follow the cartoon’s main character catchphrase, “Hey, dat-a-me!” My whole classmates laughed for that is actually my voice in the cartoon. I thanked Harvey a lot for giving me the chance to be a voice actor, my life wouldn’t have the same without him. Harvey also thanked me. Had he not asked me to be a voice actor, his game might not have been as popular as it is now.

A familiar face walks into the door, and everybody is stunned by who it is. Alyssa, the girl who went unseen by her classsmates for 10 years, finally returnes to see her friends at last. She pops a seat next to Cooper. “So what are you doing right now?”asked Cooper. Alyssa just gives a smirk and changes the TV Channel. It’s a news with a headline “Alyssa Sayer makes a life saving surgery robot”. Alyssa hugs Cooper again for the first time in 10 years. “Thank you so much Cooper!” The whole restaurant awed at us.

Passion comes to people in different ways. One comes similar to Alyssa’s, whose passion came since a young age and never changes. One comes in a form of a hobby, the same as Harvey’s. One comes in irregular and unexpected forms as Cooper’s passion. You can never guess what someone’s passion is, because you don’t search for passion, but passion finds you. Happiness finds you.