So recently I’ve come to think that the question of “kapan nyusul?” is the root of all evil in our society. Okay, I’m exaggerating but I stand by my belief that that damn question does more harm than good. I hate it when someone asks me that question in any kind of context. I hate it even more than the question “kapan sembuh?” (FYI: I no longer friends with the pricks asking that dumb question)
I mean, what do you think life is? A race? Some kind of Agustusan competitions? If you do think that life is a race, you can stop reading and get the fuck out of here. I mean it. Go back to your little life/racing competition. I wish you luck. Hope you win.
Okay. Anyway, I personally think that the concept of “life is a race” is a form of ignorance. Imagine a person is born and put behind a starting stall like a horse or a dog setting out for a race. There is only a single track and you’re competing against everyone your age. Of course, there are checkpoints: go to school, graduate, get a job, travel to many places, get married, get a master’s degree, have kids, buy a house and a car – you know, the usual routine. And most importantly, like in any kind of race, there are winners and losers.
So when someone asks you “kapan nyusul?” what does it mean? It means that you’re lagging, dude! It means you’re losing, and this question does want you to feel like a loser, that your life is not going great right now and that you need to catch up. Crack the whip on your ass or you’re left behind.
Now, it’s not like I’m against marriage, grad school, properties, traveling, or babies. I’m happy for my married friends and those who have children and set out to start a family, or those who pursue higher education, hoard material possessions, or go wanderlusting (is that even a word?). I don’t really care if some people consider having all the ducks lined up in a row is an achievement or a sole indication of how a good happy life looks like. It’s just that I hope these people stop shaming others for not having what they have, ever or just yet.
Maybe we’ve been asking the wrong questions, to people and, most importantly, to ourselves. Oftentimes, we’re obsessed with a particular “am I happy?” question. And to answer that, we look up to others for reference or choose others to answer it for us. Oftentimes, we’re told that we’re not happy because we don’t have this, do that, go there, yada yada (when actually we’re just doing fine). And often, we believe that. We feel miserable. Maybe that’s the reason why the “kapan nyusul?” question can be very disheartening.
But “happy” is not a noun. It’s easier to answer if the question is “am I human?” The answer to the “am I happy?” question is more complicated and I believe each of us is free to define what happiness is. So when you ask someone if they’re happy, you need to be aware that it’s actually an open question, and you cannot argue with the answer because your definition of being happy may differ from others’.
Or maybe happiness is not what makes life good. It is not the marriage, not the job, not the kids, not the academic degrees, not the exotic places, not the money. Maybe what makes life good is to have meaning and a sense of purpose. Life is good when you know why you’re here. If we’re lucky, we don’t have to worry about being happy anymore.
So I’m saying stop asking “kapan nyusul?” To others or to yourself. You’re not doing anyone a favor and it’s annoying. Life is not a race. It’s a journey and we all have our own destination. We go at our own pace. The key is to keep going and try not to be so caught up in getting to a destination that we miss out on wonderful things along the way there.
In her beautiful (as usual) essay, Rebecca Sonit suggests that:
Like a life, a journey assumes a shape and a meaning that are only clear afterward, and like a journey, a life requires that you learn to let go of the plan when the actuality departs from it, to embrace what’s arriving, let go of what’s departing, to move forward and not get stuck. You can cover the same ground with entirely different purposes. Some people run away all their lives; some people search without finding; some people know where they’re headed and move toward goals, ideals, people; some in that subtlest of journeys move toward becoming who they are meant to be; some arrive.
On the other hand, Alan Watts argues that life could also be seen as a playful musical composition and we can be here, singing, dancing, and making meaning, as long as the music is being played.