Monday, June 26, 2017

The Envelope, please

I've been wanting to blog over the long Hari Raya break. Now is my chance.

I haven't been working that much over the past couple of days. In fact I've been taking it easy since Friday. I had some errands to run in Cyberjaya, so I went to my apartment with the intention to set up shop there for the day, answering emails if any and do some light coding work. But I spent almost the whole day sleeping and reading instead.

It was a good break because I was feeling very exhausting due to the late nights that I've been keeping over the week. My Cyberjaya apartment is my sanctuary, even though I don't even have a bed there as I see it more as an office and library for me to think and work. Occasionally I'd crash on the sofa or pick out some tunes on my digital piano.

Being alone has never bothered me. One is never lonely when one is truly alone. Being alone keeps one alive: it sharpens one's senses; it keeps one balanced and focused. And if you are wise enough, you'll realize these are genuine moments of happiness.

We spend so much of our time worrying about finding our place in society--to have a social standing, to have a family to call our one and to leave behind a legacy. In other words, satisfying our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. So we work, find a life partner, start a family and try to find success in our chosen career. And on our deathbed, we'll go with the satisfaction that there are loved ones who will mourn and remember us. We don't want to die alone and insignificant.

Is this a so-called meaningful life?

Part of life is seeking an answer to the question above. There may not be a single definitive answer to the question. To live is to examine this very question of life. Perhaps each one of us has a sealed envelope hidden somewhere in this universe with the correct answer. One thing's for sure though: it won't be handed to us on a silver platter.

Perhaps this envelope contains more envelopes with even more questions, hinting at other envelopes elsewhere?

There are definite things that come in envelopes: like the stacks of bills on my desk, which I clear at the end of every month. So we spend our entire lives, serving these envelopes that come with clockwork certainty. Every envelope contains the karmic price that we have to pay for our needs and desires. We consume and we pay for it. The bills that come in envelopes are the easy part. These are kind of tangible needs, of which we choose to pay with our hard-earned money.

The really costly things are our intangible needs, which we usually have to pay with time and energy. The bills for them don't come neatly quantified in sealed envelopes. Sometimes you don't even realized that you are paying or have already paid for them.

Sometimes we literally do receive the answer to the meaning of life in envelopes--religious pamphlets that claims to know the ultimate purpose of our existence. I used to read them very diligently in my youth. They can be very uplifting.

In this age of emails and electronic messaging, thankfully we are getting less and less of these paper envelopes. That bad thing is that they come in even bigger torrents, clogging up your inboxes and buzzing your smartphone every other second. Sometimes, they also claim to elucidate the meaning of life--in 140-character nuggets of wisdom.

So, be prepared to open more envelopes--some virtual, some emotional ones with hidden bills. The flood of envelopes will not stop. Life is a series of envelopes. Sometimes they contain bills, sometimes junk, sometimes a plea for donation. Handle each envelope once (as the paper management gurus would say). Handle them decisively. More importantly, know how much that is asked of you in each of these envelopes. Each one brings you slightly closer to the answer.

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