Blog, Thoughts

The Payback Time

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Wrong. Since there are lunches that we have to pay before or immediately after enjoying them, there are certainly free lunches, absolutely free with no attachments, no future obligations, no delayed stomach ache, no hidden costs. Everything on Earth has its extreme opposite pair, its paradox. If you can’t find the pair of a certain thing today, then it is hiding somewhere at a distance corner of the Universe.

Hence there are free and unfree lunches. They both exist. Some of what seems to be free lunches, as we all know, are not really free ones. One need to pay the hidden cost later, and it may come in different form of payments. At the end of the day the payments can be a lot more expensive and cause more pains than the actual value and the joy of the like-free lunches. These like-free lunches in essence are the unfree ones. They come with hidden costs, with unknown term of payments.

Like-free lunches can be in the form of justifiable or unjustifiable commission and precious gifts, job appointments, scholarships, convenient shopping environment at hypermarkets or malls, like-free software, like-free seminars, like-free credit cards, or maybe people who enrich themselves at Government expense. Like-free lunches exist everywhere, be it in personal, social, political, or even in science related fields.

The problem is that some people have selective memories. They choose not to remember which lunches were paid and which ones were delayed. Some people intentionally enveloped themselves in self-denials to justify that, yes, they deserve those like-free lunches, and do not want to pay the bills when they appear.

As an example, in a corruption case, perpetrator normally prefers to spend a big sum of money to pay lawyers, prosecutors, judges, or anybody who can be bought to help him or her to avoid justice. In this case, the pains from the forced payment can be more severe than what they had ever expected or prepared for.

Things like noble or dirty thoughts that were buried for years in the mind and heart that affect the way a person see the world, nice or nasty words that were spoken, good or evil actions that were committed, smart or silly actions that were delivered, nice or mean gestures that were revealed, will also have immediate or delayed consequences to the person who have done them. There will be payback times, sooner or later.

The lesson that a person gets during the payback times, however, can be far more meaningful than the experience that the person got during like-free lunches, provided that the person looks and deals the issue honestly.

What is the appropriate time to pay for the like-free lunches? No one knows, but there maybe indicators, clues, albeit they are sometimes quite subtle and vague. One thing for sure is that one cannot avoid a payback time. Payback times will come at any given time, mostly, unexpected.

It’s not always a personal choice to pay one's own lunch, even though by doing that the person needs not to worry for any future consequences as the lunch is paid already. Sometimes a person couldn't refuse the juicy offer or the seductive temptation of the like-free lunches.

What the person needs to do is to face the payback time wisely when it comes. Hence, when it strikes, look deep down inside, accept and pay the cost of the like-free lunch with big hearts, and by doing that, one will know himself or herself better, and most importantly, one will gain or keep his or her self-respect and dignity.

, seorang pejalan musiman dan penyuka sejarah. Penduduk Jakarta yang sedang tinggal di Cikarang Utara. Diperbarui: July 12, 2008.

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