So I was just thinking about the past few weeks. Dissatisfaction had become the central theme of a lot of major conversations surrounding me. A lot of people are complaining about this and that and whatnot, and mostly it’s because they don’t get paid enough. It’s the “What’s In It For Me?” factor.
Well, let’s just list all the reasons I should be thankful. I’ll start with the things that money can’t buy:
- I have a wonderful, caring, loving family. Both my parents are alive and well, and they still work. My sister is starting a small business with her friends. We can still go to church together whenever I go home to Yogyakarta.
- My extended family is also fun to be with and most of them are in good shape (physically, financially, whatever).
- I have a lot of friends ranging from people I met in elementary school to work colleagues who have become some of my best friends. Good friends are hard to come by, and not any one person is capable of being the perfect friend, but my friends are good enough for me.
- My English is good, I believe in my logic, and I can play several musical instruments. All this I owe to God.
- I get to work on something that I love: programming. Work and office life is not always fun, but for the most part, it’s quite enjoyable.
Next, for the “mathematicians” among the readers, here are the things money and statistics can measure:
- I had retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma occurs on 1 of every 18,000 – 30,000 live births worldwide, and currently more than 90% of infants having retinoblastoma survive. Ten minutes of googling and five minutes of math would tell you that in 1984 there are between 300 to 500 infant deaths worldwide due to retinoblastoma. I survived, and I believe I wasn’t just part of a set of statistics. My survival is a miracle.
- I can read and write. This might seem like a very trivial thing, but about 16.8 million Indonesians are still illiterate.
- I have a Bachelor’s Degree, majoring in Electrical Engineering. Primary school net attendance ratio in Indonesia is above 85%, which means more than 85% of children aged 6-12 years (primary school age) actually attend primary school. Secondary school net attendance ratio drops to about 57%, and as you can imagine higher education NAR drops to well below that (no actual figure available yet).
- I have a job, and the longest period I have been unemployed is less than a month. No matter how stressed I am at work, I will be more stressed if I am unemployed. As of 2010, the estimated unemployment rate in Indonesia is 7.2% of the workforce, which amounts to around 8.4 million people.
- I have an income level that allows me to live comfortably, support my parents if only a bit, and aid others who are in need. I’m certain that my income level enables me to live well above the $1.25 PPP (purchasing power parity), and even well above $2.00 PPP. In Indonesia, as of 2010, 50.6% of the population (118.4 million) live with $2.00 PPP, and 18.7% of the population (43.7 million) have to make do with a $1.25 PPP.
- I can afford a nice boarding house and have three meals a day. Some say that there are more than 3 million homeless people in Indonesia alone. They probably sleep under bridges or on the streets, live on one or two meals per day, have no appropriate clothing to protect them from the heat of the sun or the pouring rain, and have to worry every day about getting scooped up by the local police.
- I have a company-sponsored health insurance policy. Last time I used it, I had a bad case of bacteria infection in my stomach and it would’ve cost me $40 if I didn’t have that covered.
- I get to fly home at least twice a year. The company covers the tickets, and even gives me a little bit more than necessary so that I can treat my family and friends to a really nice dinner every time I get home.
- I have a motorcycle. As of 2009, there are “only” 70.7 million motorized vehicles in Indonesia, more than 52 million of those being motorcycles. Keeping in mind that Indonesia’s public transportation system is not desirable, I consider owning my own motorcycle a privilege. And yes, I paid for it myself (settled the entire loan in under a year, at that), another privilege if I may say so.
- I have a cellphone. About 35% of Indonesia’s population (81.9 million people) can’t afford to have a mobile cellular telephone subscription.
- I have an internet connection. Two, in fact. As of July 2011, internet penetration in Indonesia is only 21%, which means more than 63 million people aged 15 – 65 in Indonesia have no internet access.
- I can spend less then I earn, and thus have quite a bit of money left at the end of the month to transfer to my savings account. A lot people have trouble with their shopping habits and a lot more have trouble just making their ends meet.
There you go. This list could go on with all the luxuries that I can afford for myself. I’m not the richest guy in the world, but there are a lot more people who don’t have what I have now. To put things in perspective, here’s a list of some people that I met during my last visit to Yogyakarta that are thankful for what they have:
- A geek friend who is struggling to keep his computer store open while paying the operating costs of it and dealing with the gambler landlord and pesky police officers. Thank God, all I have to do is what my boss tells me to do, and I get paid. I don’t have to worry about me going out of business (at least, for now), getting an eviction notice, or being in jail.
- A friend in adventures who works graveyard shifts while working on her thesis because she’s been paying her own tuition fees since her first year in college. Thank God, all I had to do was text my mom and she’d give me money to pay my tuition, all the way until graduation.
- A friend in gaming who dropped out of college and is now struggling to stay on top of things by learning to be a property reseller. If the business slows down, he would have to go for months on end on practically nothing. Thank God, I never have to worry about next month’s salary.
Alright, so this post is starting to get too long to read. With all the reasons to be thankful I mentioned above (and many more I couldn’t write down), if I’m still complaining, I should be ashamed of myself.
So, dear God, teach me not to focus on what I have not, but on what I can share with others. Teach me to focus on my privileges rather than my limitations. Teach me to appreciate the littlest of things that other people may not be able to experience.
1. Get a house of my own.
This one I’m going to have to set aside for now. Property prices in my hometown are crazier than ever, and rather than stressing myself I might be better of pursuing something more reachable. But I am looking into possibilities, and when the opportunity comes I will surely take it.
2. Go on a backpacking trip to Europe.
I’ve started saving for this one, and although the current balance is a far cry from the actual budget, I can confidently say that I will be able to achieve this in a few years’ time.
3. Learn photography and get myself a not-so-bad DSLR camera.
This one’s also going to have to wait a little longer. It’s a hobby (and a quite expensive one), so a lower priority should be appropriate.
4. Get a 13″ MacBook.
I bought my MacBook Unibody A1342 about six months ago, and I’m about five months away from settling my payments. So I can safely say I’m well on my way to achieving this.
5. Have foster kids or be able to fund schooling for underprivileged kids.
As I’ve heard so many times from flight attendants every time I get on a plane, putting on your own oxygen mask is a lot more important than assisting a child or senior citizen. So, this has to go down for the moment.
6. Get a health and life insurance policy and build a detailed pension plan.
This should be my first priority for now. The longer I wait to buy a policy, the higher the premium. But I’ll have to settle all my payments first (MacBook and motorcycle), so I guess early next year would be a good estimation.
I’ve been watching you from a safe distance, across a strait, on another island. I can only read about you in things that don’t really exist — at least not physically. But who am I to demand or even think about more than that? I have betrayed what we have built for the past two years. I blame myself for that.
There, I said it. At least I’m being square to myself.
Yes, I am in love with you. Why, you ask? Beats the shit out of me. But I guess the moment I start wanting you is the moment I have to throw myself out of a dream. Get real! Life ain’t that good. That’s the ugly truth.
Now I’m off to pursue my dreams — my other dreams. My dreams that do not involve actual human beings. Dreams that can be bought or engineered. Dreams that can be perceived and planned and executed systematically. You were — and still are — none of those. You are spontaneous, unpredictable, indecipherable. You are not something, you are someone. That concept was not within the grasp of my logic, it never was, and I honestly don’t think it ever will be.
Isn’t it strange how we all get a little bit weird sometimes?
just stuck hollow and alone
and the fault is my own and the fault is my own
I wanna heal, I wanna feel what I thought was never real
I wanna let go of the pain I’ve felt so long
erase all the pain ’till it’s gone
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along
somewhere I belong
[Linkin Park – Somewhere I Belong]
I tried so hard, and got so far
but in the end it doesn’t even matter
I had to fall to lose it all
but in the end it doesn’t even matter
[Linkin Park – In The End]
for what is a man? what has he got?
if not himself – then he has naught
to say the things he truly feels
and not the words of one who kneels
the record shows I took the blows
and did it my way
[Frank Sinatra – My Way]
tonight saw a parade of songs that for the rest of the world might seem unimportant or insignificant. but I found three that struck something in me. it was the three songs above, in chronological order, and — amazingly enough — they seemed to portray the chronological order of what truly happened: want – try – fail – fall down – get up and get going.
people come and go and try and fail and succeed and… well, the world just keeps spinning no matter what lousy hole you’re stuck in. I guess I should be thankful that time and space and everyday itinerary saves me a lot of energy and helps me stabilize myself.
my favorite part? here goes:
the record shows I took the blows and did it my way
for the record: no regrets, I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I have every confidence that whatever will be thrown at me next will not be something I cannot handle.
arrogant? well, we need to be to survive. that’s the name of the game.
Those who are victims of the Facebook fever and read my status, it says I’m “off the grid”. Well, this isn’t exactly “off the grid”, but since not many people read this blog, I figured I still have the right to spill out what’s in my mind (and my heart, most likely) for the past few days.
I’m trying to step back from the cyberworld for a while. And I’m not doing this for me, I’m trying to step back to give some space for the person I think I bug most on the virtual world. I dunno, maybe I’m just being oversensitive about things, or maybe not. Maybe she does get irritated just by seeing me online on Yahoo!Messenger. Maybe she does get really tired of the “hello, how’s the day” bullshit I send her every single day.
Well, I don’t really know, but if you’re reading this blog, you can sleep sound tonight. Because I’m gonna quit all that bullshit. I’m just gonna be invisible to you. Well, maybe not always invisible, but I wont say hello or whatever. I’ll just let you talk to me first when you need to. If not, well, silence is gold…
Just so you know, I know it sounds so lame when I say “good luck” or other stuff like that, but I mean it. You mean a lot to me, and I wished I could “do” more than I “say”…
A few days ago I had a chat with a good friend. About her, about me, about the people we care about. I don’t when we became so honest with each other, but I’m glad we did. Because there’s that one sentence she said that opened my eyes wide open:
I now realize how fragile I am, and how I’ve been covering it up with fake smiles and false sincerities. I’ve been doing this and that and expecting people to understand how I feel, but even I didn’t understand how I really felt. I wasn’t totally honest with myself. And I was definitely not being honest with the person I care about most. I’ve been too scared to veer off the sidewalk and face whatever it is I must face. I was scared that I would get hurt. I was hiding.
Well, life is full of those little surprises that sometimes just stabs you right in your heart. We have to live with that, or we don’t live at all.
And what about her? Well, she is honest with herself and with the world. And she still has her chin up, boldly facing the world that is far from what she wants it to be.
Thank you, my friend, for making me realize what I truly feel.
Here’s my new wishlist, an upgrade of my previous wishlist:
- Get a house of my own in my hometown Yogyakarta, Indonesia, preferably in the northeast part of the city, in the suburbs.
- Go on a backpacking trip to Europe, preferably with my better half.
- Learn photography; and while I’m at it, get a DSLR camera, maybe a Canon EOS D40. [review]
- Get a 13″ Apple MacBook Unibody.
- Have a foster kid(s) or be able to fund schooling for underprivileged kids.
- Get a health and life insurance policy and build a detailed pension plan.