[EF.17.2] Merdeka Means Less Stuff and Free of Envy


ONLY THREE DAYS ago did we experience a great feeling. That was exactly one day after Indonesia’s Independence Day. It is probably quite ordinary for some people but remained impressed in the deepest of our heart. Later in the evening when BEC offered us to comment on what merdeka means for me, I rushed to write a draft on my WordPress App to include what we experienced that morning.

We have lived in Lamongan for nearly seven months now since we left Bogor back in February. We’re so excited to finally live in proximity to where my mom lives. In fact, living closer to her has always been her dream we’re supposed to make happen. After all goods and household equipment were successfully transported into the new house, we hurried to unload all the cardboard boxes and placed them in order.

Less stuff

As we will have to move to another house in the coming months, we’ve decided to keep the boxes for later use. The town we’re living is not similar to Bogor that allows us to get as many boxes as possible for free. We’re a loyal consumer to a shopping centre and we could take home any boxes we needed. In Lamongan we’re afraid we’ll have to purchase secondhand boxes to contain our stuff when moving.

It seemed we have not anticipated that the pile of those boxes has suddenly shifted from particular materials into homes of rats. Yes, we live in a complex near rice fields and mice become casual appearance in the back room of our house. Since the house is less spacious than the one we used to live in, stuff and objects seem packed and occupy most of the available space.

My wife then suggested we donate the cardboard boxes to any scavengers nearby. After a debate about the loss of the useful boxes and possible trouble in the future when moving out, I agreed to let them go. On our daily visit to the nearest market, we saw two men scavenging valuable discarded stuff in a temporary dump. When we left the market, I approached one of the scavengers and asked him if he’s willing to pick our cardboard boxes at home.

“Do I have to purchase them or you simply gave them away?” he asked in doubtful pleasure.

Less is more

“No, sir. We’re not selling them. Those boxes will be yours if you come along with me to get them.” A big smile developed and I knew he was thrilled as he switched on his motorcycle. I must tell you I’ve actually thought of selling the boxes before finally releasing them for free.

The man looked so excited when heaping the boxes on his motorcycle. An old travel bag came as an extra bonus. He said goodbye and thanked us for what he received–which were actually nothing of value. However, as he rode away, we were overwhelmed by feelings of ecstasy.

It’s like we’re completely engulfed in an atmosphere of tranquility. We soon discovered we have been terribly chained to the agonizing sense of possessing objects and material stuff. Even just by keeping cardboard boxes away from our house,  our happiness is easily assured. We have learned that we have been obsessed by pure greed.


What kind of kemerdekaan (freedom) can I claim if my heart is incessantly attached to owning a lot of stuff for mere personal satisfaction? Then I’m still too far away from ‘merdeka‘. Merdeka means possessing things we really need and releasing stuff we are no longer in need of. From our contact with the scavenger, I have come to believe that less stuff will lead to more freedom; more peace as we stick only to what really matters.

My faith prescribes that we will certainly be held accountable for every object we have, and every act we do, and even saying we produce. More stuff will mean more responsibility we have no guarantee we can bear. By this I mean that helping people while reducing our stuff is the essential condition of being ‘merdeka‘ when we are no longer overpowered by worldly life. We can be happy and taste freedom the way we want it to be. That’s what merdeka means for me.

Free of envy

When I said that merdeka means less stuff, it is true especially in relevance to what we actually need. We need to buy and possess something because we do require it to make our life better and easier. So to say, it’s not necessary we have something just because other people also have it. We don’t need to emulate one’s life simply because his/her life looks happier and much more comfortable.

This is the point where envy may be going on. And this applies to all things in our life, materially and immaterially. We may like our friend’s large house or big bike, but that doesn’t mean we have to have them as well. Some people find their couples quite speedily but we seem to be far from similar experience. Or when our fellow bloggers win a prestigious competition, we may want the same, but it’s not always something we must also have–despite the great pleasure it promises.

Desiring what others have acquired or what our friends have done may be good but does not always come good to us. There’s no reason we must envy someone of achieving or possessing something. If we fail to copy what they have, do not despair. We may be better in something else so we won’t let us immersed in absolute envy.

Merdeka once again is the absence of envy when we actually have something far better for ourselves. All we have to do is to learn and struggle for what we believe in. Our dreams should not be similar to our friends’, just like we have different perceptions of what freedom means in our life. We have our own life and we live it the way we want it to be.

Merdeka! Happy Independence Day, Indonesia! For BBC Mania, I wish you all more freedom to determine your life direction in terms of strategic choices for better improvement.


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