[Read directly at TheJakartaPost.com.]
by Jennie S. Bev,
I shared with a good friend that I don’t really know where I
belong now. And I might always feel this way throughout my lifetime. He said,
“You are lucky, Jen, because you have two homes. Many people don’t even have a
I am blessed for having two diasporas: Indonesian and
overseas Chinese in America. I have a home in the United States, a home I made
for myself as an adult woman. I also have a childhood home in Indonesia, a home
my parents made for me as a child and a young college student. China is another
place I consider home, as it is the land of my ancestors where they left their
footsteps and eventually left their legacy.
I have choices and I can choose one, two, or all three of
them. Or, I can choose none of them. Sometimes it is dizzying, sometimes it is
empowering. Most of the time, they are parts of me.
The on-going foreclosure crisis in the United States, which
started in 2007, has caused 13.5 million homes shattered, one of which was
mine. I am now starting over with a positive balance sheet, as the negative
equity resulting from the on-going economic crisis is now a history. Something
bad turns out to be a blessing in disguise.
There is a silver lining in every cloud.
In these few weeks I am home in Santa Clara, located at the
heart of Silicon Valley, a very good friend who is working as a successful
executive shared with me that she is considering joining a convent as a nun.
She is eager to leave all of her wealth and worldly belongings to embrace the
oath of celibacy, obedience, and poverty. She is eager to leave a good job in a
high-tech company for a white dress and a white headscarf.
It did not take me long to comprehend her reasoning.
She and I already live a contemplative life. We had
everything we wanted: Financial wealth, great jobs, admiration from men and people
around us, nice cars, branded clothes, diamonds, and Rolex watches. But we miss
something larger: Eternal love for all humankind.
Living a meaningful life is worth more than millions of gold
bars and thousands of Tiffany rings.
While she is in the process of leaving her material belongings,
I already had. Now I live with two pieces of suitcase, two Kindle readers,
three laptops, two smartphones, a pair of noise cancellation headphone, and an
iPad. Just like the clouds, I am mobile.
I feel rich because I have less. And I think it is the way
it should be.
Money, power, and lust are three of the most intoxicating
things in the world. No one is prone to their influences. Thus, for my good
friend to consciously choose to love fellow human beings instead of all those
three is totally admirable.
I might not join the convent as a nun, but loving all
humankind equally is something I have been striving to do. Sometimes I succeed,
sometimes I fail. Sometimes I love certain individuals better than others.
Sometimes I have preferences over who to love and who not to love.
In the United States, I have learned to treat people
equally, perhaps the same way that 19th century political
philosopher from France Alexis de Tocqueville did, where he found that the more
advanced he studied the American society, the more he perceived that the
equality of conditions was the fundamental fact from which all others were derived
from and the central point of his observations. Alexis did it nicely, a good
example to emulate.
This morning, while having breakfast at a neighborhood
Burger King, I said to myself that I was going to miss this moment. Executives
in nice suits, construction workers in orange vests, special education students
with their teachers, and senior citizens with their friends ate the same
whopper burgers, chicken nuggets, soda drinks, frappucinos and smoothies. We
all belong to the same “class,” hence we eat the same meals and drink the same
In Indonesia and China, things are not that equal. Social
classes are so obvious. While I can easily pass tens of cardbox homes just to
arrive at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to have some muffin at the coffee shop, my
heart already sank so deep upon arrival.
In a book I wrote many years ago, I said, “Success is a
mindset. It’s not a journey or a destination. It’s already within you.” Yes, it
is. I have earned millions and I have lost them. Yet, I am still the same person.
Only stronger and a little bit wiser.
Success in a spiritual form would stay. As long as I love
people equally and place love for mankind above love for any singular man.
Universal love is what matters. In diaspora, I’m home.
The Jakarta Post, December 6, 2012