A Reflection of Time

About 23 years ago, in 1983 to be exact, I was the field study chairman of ITB Pharmacy Students to East Java, and also the editor of a book titled “On Profession” published by the organizing committee as a mean to seek funding from sponsors.

In the book, John S. Nimpoeno contributed Professionalism in Developing Countries; Sahat Lumbantoruan wrote Profession of Pharmacy as Healthcare Profession; Syamsir Alam contributed Analytical Thoughts to Principles of Profession; Wim Kalona wrote Society, Government, University and Pharmaceutical Industry: Building a Golden Bridge; and Permadi contributed Consumers' Expectation to Pharmaceutical Products Year 2000. They were all great people in their times. The book surely gave me one of the sweetest memories during my years in ITB.

While I was supervising production of the book, I found out that there was a half page empty space. I decided to put a picture of a little boy, son of my friend’s house maid. The picture was taken from above. He was smiling joyfully and looking straight to the camera. Below the picture I wrote: “Observe the past with wisdom, live up the day with amorousness, behold tomorrow with full of reliance”. At the right of the picture, I put funny cartoon of a tiny frog, sitting and pointing its left hand to the boy with mouth wide opened.

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While the wisdom is still valid today but, 23 years after I wrote it, I still keep on struggling to accept yesterday; often forget living up the very precious moment that I have today; and nervously anticipating things that may go wrong in the mist of the future. The bad thing is I’m not alone. Most people do the same.

It’s hard to have peace in mind with the past, especially the bad ones. There were times where we made wrong decisions that led to disasters; lost of beloved ones; betrayed by a friend, spouse or subordinate; chose wrong routes that led to a severe traffic jam; worked in a wrong company or selfish boss; faced a divorce; lost of virginity; committed an abortion; raised in a broken family; just to name a few.

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Quite often we have problems with the very day that we're breathing on as well. We're wasted the precious moments that will never come back. Let me give you an example. When I was jobless, I was confused since I didn’t know where to go every morning; didn’t have activities or challenges that eventually could make my brain dull; got no money to spend; had no friends to talk to; lost of dignity. I desperately needed to get out from home. I wanted a job.

When I got a good job and had a nice office, interestingly, I also complained because I hated the heavy traffics in the morning; exhausted with so many works to do and piles of problems to solve that could eventually make my brain exploded; spent too much money for foolish things; frustrated with incompetent subordinates or fussy boss; worked long hours or on weekends. I was burnout. I desperately needed to stay away from office. I wanted an early retirement.
Does it sound familiar to you too?

There are so many things that at one time we longed for it very badly, spent a considerable amount of time and money to own it, and when we had it already we hated it so much and wanted to abandon it. Consider these: spouse, children, food, sex, girlfriend or boyfriend, government.

Looking to the future…. Hmmm, it’s another source of grey hairs.

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To deal with bad things in the past is to accept the very fact that it hurts; to acknowledge that it’s written, no denial, no scapegoats; to dig lessons, the bitter the taste the more lessons it may contain; to let the past rest in peace.

To deal with today is to accept things as they are; to confront it; to live with it; to show gratitude; to acknowledge that we live in an imperfect world; to accept that laugh and cry are two faces of a coin.

To deal with the future is to accept the possibilities; to realize that whatever we do there’ll be consequences to face; to pay it in cash only when it happened, no worries now, no installment of joy today.

In Javanese philosophy, life is “cokro manggilingan”, and that we have to “nrimo ing pandum, ben ora kemrungsung”. You may want to come to Yogyakarta, the center of Javanese wisdom to learn more about it.
Books such as “Don’t be Sad”, written by DR. 'Aidh bin Abdullah al-Qarni, may also offer some sort of recipes. It works for me, it works for my friend, and it works for maybe millions of others.
Hence, as I wrote years ago, let’s remind each other often to “Observe the past with wisdom, live up the day with amorousness, behold tomorrow with full of reliance”. May the Force be with us.
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