how short moment may affect one’s whole life

Amazing how a short moment of experience in life can change you–your way of life, your point of view–entirely.

Senior Producer MerchantCantos Matt Elmes and I

That’s what Senior Producer MerchantCantos Matt Elmes told me few days ago. I met Matt when my office assigned me to accompany him during his work in Surakarta (Solo) city, and Yogyakarta city, to take some shots in slum upgrading priority locations. He’s making a video for Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), one of our donators for Indonesia slum upgrading programs. But what I’m about to say here has nothing to do with our companies or clients. We were having a chat as two new friends, two creative people from different part of the world.

Matt is a great guy. We talked a lot about our past work experiences, even though my English is not perfect, or as he said, my English was great, but he was a bit confused because I have “no typical accent”–not British accent, not American accent, not Latin accent, not Indian accent either, just simple Indonesian English accent, I think.

Anyways, Matt said the sentence above when we’re traveling (with our team) a 2 hours drive from Solo to Yogyakarta. He was telling me about his past experience when making a film about healthcare, where he’s working with a doctor in a hospital. “So,” he said, “The project required me to stand by for three full months in ER, filming this one doctor’s activities. So there I was, seeing patients, from a simple sickness to the weirdest, most wicked and bone-chilling accidents. One thing I learned from that moment: how fragile human actually is..”

Then he explained how such thing affect doctors. Even the toughest doctor need counseling, since they’re dealing with death, daily. Every time a doctor lost a patient, it always hit them, hard. Sure they know there’s always such risk (death), but every time it happens, doctors just can’t help but feeling down. Even just for awhile. “You just can never get used to such thing. This experience changed me. After filming, I feel like I’m a changed man. It makes me appreciate life for more. Appreciate my surroundings for more,” Matt told me.

Human is so fragile. They live one minute, and gone (snap fingers) just like that, the next.

I couldn’t help but drown in a deep thought about this. I once was a newspaper reporter for law and crime desk. Sometimes we need to visit a crime scene and saw death right in its eyes. I myself witness how terrible the scene when a 16 year-old girl ran over by a heavy cement truck, caused a very severe damage on her skull where her brains scattered all over the truck’s wheels and also the asphalt road. It was a high noon, so you can actually see the blood and brains all over the street. It was gore. I’m used to gore scene, but I couldn’t help but cry when I hear the mother’s hysterical scream seeing her daughter died like that. It was a brief moment, but such scene just printed permanently in my head.

And my second breakdown was when the suicidal bomb happened in Australia Embassy for Indonesia in Rasuna Said street (Kuningan), Jakarta, back in year 2004. I was there less than 30 minutes after the bomb happened. It was still smoke and smell of burning flesh every where. The police line has cleared out to 1 km parameter, but as a reporter, I was allowed to come to the hospital nearby the crime scene. The morgue was full with 13 dead bodies. Most of them were burning so badly, they almost look like a charcoal entirely. Like I said, I am used to gore sight, but I was in tears when the dead’s families came, crying, screaming, and hysterically shouting “Ya, Allah..” and the name of the deceased.

This was a short conversation, but the topic is quite heavy. And it reminds me of what precious in life, is life itself. We won’t live forever. We are fragile. So we better prepare ourselves to go “home” and return to the best place we can be, and that would be jannah, inshaallah.

You know what.. talking to foreigners is nothing new for me. But this two-days assignment my boss trusted me, I think it changed me. Hopefully to become a better person…

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