There is no traced-out path to lead man to his salvation; he must constantly invent his own path. But, to invent it, he is free, responsible, without excuse, and every hope lies within him. - Sartre
I love observing. It’s probably my number one hobby. I could sit all day on my apartment’s balcony, looking at the passing cars, passerby doing their things, or perhaps, just staring at the sky, observing the clouds or stars (on a lucky night).
2020 has allowed me to do a lot of observing and that’s probably the very thing that I was grateful for in 2020. I’m not saying this to justify the shitty year or to find meaning from all the despondency that all of us as a humankind share in 2020. I’m saying more as a context of what I’m going to talk about next.
Because that idle moment when I was observing my surounding (outer observation), has also allowed me have time to rationalize what I was feeling and making sense of the various emotions that I feel as a byproduct of interaction with the other human beings (inner observation).
Here are a few things that I realized from my observation in 2020:
1. An arcade philosophy
One day, it’s struck me that this life is just like an arcade. There are a lot of games that we can try as long as we have the means to spend. It may sound odious how this life in general is like a capitalist system. But, I’m just being realistic here. Though I want to be clear that the means here is not limited to monetary means, but also all the basic needs on the Maslow’s triangle. Once we secure the means, only then, we can decide on what games we want to play. We get to enjoy life by exchange the means that we possess to play whatever games that appeal to us. Common path, then, created by formalizing a structure for a series of games that gained a lot of interest. It’s an indicator that those are the games that people enjoy the most. That doesn’t mean that the other games are less enjoyable, but playing the same games help us to share the same experience, thus allow us to learn from one another more easily. Choosing to play another games outside the common path is a bit harder, because it means that there won’t be a lot of best practices than if we choose to play by following the common path. In the end, if you believe in religion, you can redeem the points you accumulate from playing the game with whatever gifts you want. If you don’t believe in the greater being, then just imagine the end as walking out of the arcade. This metaphor has helped me to add some zing to my life especially after faced with a lot of uncertainty that left me in despair last year. If life is a game, then perhaps, in a grand scheme, we don’t need to think about it too seriously. Our duty as a player is just to find enjoyment from the game, no matter how ill the situation is.
2. Living in a suitcase
Albeit saying that I’m splitting my time between Jakarta and my hometown, last year I just realized that in fact, I’ve been living in my cabin suitcase ever since I moved to Bali in 2018. All the basic things that I need has always been loaded in that suitecase that I carry everwhere I live. Now to make it even simpler, I started to keep 2 personal necessities in both places, and even build different habit and different mental model for each place. For example, family is my number one priority when I stay in my hometown, whereas in Jakarta, I let myself to become more self-absorbed. This lifestyle still serve me well so far and I still very much enjoy it. Although on the other hand, I also realized that it’s becoming more taxing (both time and energy) and expensive. I typically spend a day just to clean the whole place when moving from one to the other place. As a true Virgo, though, I also enjoy the cleaning and tidying process so I won’t complaint that much. The fact that I’m able to afford living in 2 places itself, now seems even more like a luxury during this pandemic. And 2 years after I wrote this blog post, the content is still pretty much resonate to me even now. I really don’t feel like I have the right to complaint about anything at all.
3. Perhaps, after all, I’m just an existential nihilist
So, I have this weird idea of how we can cope with the over-population issue of the world right now. Moral and ethics aside, I was thinking that one way to do it, is that the United Nation can perhaps open a campaign to collect people who are willing to sacrifice themselves to be perished for the sake of the sustainability of the world. I asked around a few friends if they would be willing to volunteer for the campaign and none of them did, while I was proudly say that I might be willing to volunteer myself in that situation. One friend even imply to me as suicidal when I’m pretty certain that it’s not the case. Nearing the end of the year, I was grateful to finally discover existential nihilism. As much as I hate to be labelled, I feel like I finally discover a thinking structure for my natural inclination. A few books that I read by the end of 2020 like this and this one have also helped to make sense of why I think the way I did.
4. I like to be with myself more than what I realize
Having a chance to live with a few different roommates this year has also helped me to realized that I need time with myself more than what I think I need. I even surprisingly enjoy my first self-isolation in May more than I expected. Nevertheless, I still enjoy having other people to talk to and to share meals with at times, but I feel that I struggle more to think and act the same way as when there’s no other people. I even think that the term introvert, extrovert, or ambivert doesn’t even suite me anymore. After all, perhaps, I need to accept that I just born to be an individualist. Or maybe, which sound more hopeful, I just need more time to blend with the rest.
5. Art has always been my favorite escape retreat
Watercolor was probably my best purchase last year. I know that I’ve always been into art, but more as a consumer than a creator. I was sceptical that I could get as much pleasure from the art-making activity. 2020 prove it wrong. I very much enjoy the creation process as much as consuming the end-product.
What’s next in 2021
Although I don’t want to expect a lot, in 2021, I hope that I could be more:
In parallel with my arcade philosophy, I want to also pay more attention to my health because it’s the basic means that I need to be able to play in the arcade. As classic as it sound, exercise more regularly and start taking multivitamins are among my top priorities for 2021. And ofcourse, following covid-19 health protocol and avoid public crowd as much as I can will still be theme of the limited interaction that I will continue to have in 2021.
Rather than just being intendful for artifical purposes, I want to do things more honestly and with alertness. That way, I can still be intentional, but also in tune with myself. I’ve spent enough time last year to think about what I really want. In 2021, I want to be more sponteneous, which reflect more about what I want at the moment, rather than having to spend too much time to overthink the consequences, which often time, been done subconsciously anyway. “Don’t delay your happiness” is my mantra for this.
I’ve read so many good books in 2020, especially nearing the end of the year. I’ve also started to pick up more fictions and decided to follow my curiousity to learn philosophy. If there’s one realistic goal that I want to pursue in 2021, it’s that I want to learn speed-reading. It’s harder to do on certain topic that I’m not really familiar with (especially when the author use a lot of uncommon terminologies), but at least, I think it should be easier to apply on fiction books.
Realized that I spend more time to talk to myself last year (and most probably for the most part of my life), I’m also aware that I have more difficulty to articulate what I’m thinking when talking to other people. In 2021, I want to be able to articulate myself better, start taking side instead of staying neutral, and have a healthy dialouge instead of rejecting other people’ opinion altogether. I should probably also learn to have more difficult conversation, which I usually avoid.
Here, I don’t mean only from the financial point of view, but also in general as a person. If possible, I want to stretch my limit beyond myself, similar to what I’ve said here. Financially, I’d like to learn more about investing, something that I’ve been very reluctant to dig into because I’m not confident to make sense of the abstraction.
Lastly, it’ll be nice if I could have more fun in 2021. I don’t include this on my list because I don’t expect much. But still, there’s hope!