Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thoughts from My Sanctuary

I have an apartment where I keep my books. It sits on the 9th floor, overlooking the swimming pool below and further off in the distance, the spacious tree-lined grounds of a university campus.

It's not a bad place to live but I've never spent a single night here. Only my books live here, occupying shelves that reach the ceiling. When I first furnished the place, I made sure that the living room walls were completely lined with bookshelves. There are still lots of empty spaces to accomodate more books and I am in no hurry to fill them up. I am aware of the fact that I'll never be able to read all the books I own within my lifetime.

I use my apartment as a home office, a library and a private lounge: a place where I can think, work and meditate in the company of my beloved books. I try to keep the place free of distractions -- television for instance. I don't watch TV here.

The furnitures are kept to bare necessities--a sofa and a round dining table. The only item of luxury that I have is a digital piano, where I will ocassionally attempt to coax my rusty fingers to rattle off a few Chopin waltzes. Playing the piano--even badly--makes me immensely happy. It is something that connects me to my childhood. And it is from my childhood that my dreams continue to nourish...

This is my sanctuary. A place where I relax at the end of a hard day's work, and take stock of my life: Where am I going next?

In the company of my books, sometimes I am tempted to think, this is all I'll ever need. I don't need to go anywhere else. I'll just sit here everyday and read to my heart's content. What more could a person want in life?

Invariably, my eyes would chance on the title of some of the books on my shelf: Batavia, Bung Karno, Witnesses to Sumatra, Java Pageant, Indonesian Destinies...and suddenly my heart would ache with a certain longing...

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