I am now sitting in the lobby, am starving and craving for a burger while waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up. He trapped in the traffic, by the way, spending an hour in front of my apartment building just to ‘puter balik’. Jakarta..
It’s been almost a month since my arrival to my beloved country — almost a month to reside in Jakarta. Once, I spent two and a half in the traffic just to DINE OUT. It was a brutal dinner, thank God the nasi goreng kampung was worth it after all.
In Holland, you only need two and a half plus some more minutes to arrive to Paris from Delft using a speed train that would rush through the cities and the vast open grassland. None of the big citties in Europe I’ve been had ever exposed me to a traffic as mighty as one you could find in Jakarta. Not Stockholm, not St. Petersburg, Rome, Barcelona, not even Paris and Berlin.
As an outsider, I am also impressed by Jakarta’s pollution, the ignorance of its citizen, the all-year summer heat yeah, and its lack of pedestrian walk. It seems that you barely live in this town. Home-work-traaaaafic-mall-repeat.
Barely live. How scary is that. Been born, raised, went to school and attempt to be popular, failed, wiser and went to college, attempt to be cool, failed yet graduated, found dreamy (or you enforce yourself to think so) job, then get married, then make your first child, make some more, growing old and eventually die. The life cycle, or one might want to see it as a deadly cycle of life.
What then adds to our barely-alive life? Wealth? Power? Position? Seeker of fulfillment won’t agree.
The ol’ wise Greek man lived long time ago, Epicurus the philosopher, researched out into this topic: happiness. He found out that money, sex, and power are simply powerless to bring you the happiness. So he proposed modesty, friendship, and passion instead. He managed to live in a serene mansion with his close friends; they did whatever their passions were and orientated their lives away from wealth. Enough food, no distress, no worries. Bang! It was a success.
It was ‘surely’ a higher level of living. But did they, Epicurus and friends, really get the satisfaction out of it? It did surely make a difference, but did it hit the mark? Is living self-centered-ly indeed that great?
I see it as living in the suburb area or even a peaceful village instead of Jakarta. Like being a vegetarian instead of a meat-monster. Living the Epicurian way is like living to satisfy yourself– as long as I am content. It’s not like it’s totally wrong, but is life that narrow? My mansion, my friends, my food, my passion. Me. I. Mine. So, choosing this Epicurian way of living, does it really bring fulfillment? Is it really what we’re looking for?
Now, come to think about it; is it worth it, by the end, that living in the distress of Jakarta (or wherever that is nowhere near a serene mansion) and being a part of its disease, to blend with the society; for a purpose, not a self-centered one, and refuse the ‘luxury’ of Epicurian, to be willing to gain some worries and to be willing to push ourselves a bit further; to add some values to our lifetimes? For I believe, it’s not by living peacefully, that we are fulfilled; but by living our lives purposely.
Jakarta, 2 weeks ago.