Monday, January 31, 2005

Fighting the Good Fight

Fighting the Good Fight

It has been a lazy weekend for me in Jakarta, but it was intended to be so. I needed to recharge myself before another busy week ahead. So I slept late, loitered around Sarinah, surfed the Net at the cybercafe, sipped my kopi tubruk at Phoenam Cafe, browsed at the QBWorld bookshop on Jalan Sunda, chomped on some red apples and downed a couple of beers in my hotel room, watching the FA cup tie between Man U and Middlesbrough.

Today I had lunch at Warong Podjok in Menteng--one of my favourite haunts last time. The restaurant serves typical Indonesian street fare--nasi uduk, sayur asem, ayam bakar, rawon, soto ayam--but at inflated prices. I don't really mind though because it is usually quiet and I could always spend an hour or so there reading after my meal, without the harassment of pengamins (buskers).

I also treated myself to some light reading--Chuck Palahniuk's (of Fight Club fame) Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories. I wish I have the time to read more of his works; he is one of the more original writers out there. But I've long resigned myself to the fact that I'll never get to read all the books that I'd like to read in my lifetime. But that's alright. I'm grateful for whatever good things in life that I've been able to savour--books, food, people and places--all the little things that make life worthwhile.

Perhaps I'm an easily contented man, even unambitious by conventional standards. But that doesn't mean that I don't "fight the good fight" (Paulo Coelho's words). My interpretation of fighting the good fight means you still participate fully and fiercely in the rat race, fulfilling the destiny of your karma but choosing to remain unattached to its outcome.

You work for material success because it is simply a convenient measure of progress. But there's nothing inherently glorious about it. You work, you reap your rewards, you distill whatever insights you can gain from the experience, and you move on to the next challenge. Material gains are just a side-effect of what you do.

Lazy weekends are good. It gives you the space to put things back in perspective; you get to see what's important and what's not. And most important of all, you recharge your batteries and recalibrate your moral compass before you begin another week, before you enter the arena for another good fight...

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