Friday, December 24, 2004

The Price of Freedom

The Price of Freedom

Last Christmas eve, I was in Jakarta, struggling to finish a project while the rest of the whole was out partying. It has been a year. What has changed?

Nothing much. I am still struggling over Christmas eve to finish yet another project. To some people, my life must be an utterly boring one. Well, I don't totally disagree.

This year has been a busy one for me compared to my previous two years in Jakarta. In a way I have no choice because if I don't work I will have no income. So I shouldn't be complaining about having too much work; it means that my cash register is constantly ringing.

I try not to worry too much about money. You see, I like to believe in this rather naive theory that one only needs to focus on doing good work and the money will follow. It seems to work for me. It also helps that I don't have too many materialistic wants except for books. Even that has been reduced over the years.

When you don't have too many wants, you feel very free. And that feeling of freedom is the greatest joy of all. Sometimes we tell ourselves that only after we have earned a certain amount of money, we will be free. Maybe, if we keep our commitments constant, we might be able to achieve it. But usually as we earn more, we get ourselves entangled with even more commitments.

One becomes free not by acquiring but by relinquishing. But that doesn't mean one should shun material possessions altogether. Some of us will definitely acquire a lot of wealth through practising his or her God-given skills or talent. Go out into the world and "fight the good fight"--to use Paulo Coelho's words. Enjoy the fruits of your labour but don't be dependent on them for happiness.

Happiness comes from transcending wealth and freeing yourself from its bonds. Only then do we realise that freedom can't be bought because freedom itself is free--it has been with us all this while.

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