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Urban Chat: Clink-a-dink, for 2014 I'€™ll drink

  • Lynda Ibrahim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, January 3, 2014 | 04:37 pm

For those assuming the above title is an invitation to turn to alcoholism, rest assured that I have no intention to go against typical New Year'€™s resolutions to eliminate addictions by creating a new one (although, accidentally, I may have turned someone into an online game junkie, but that'€™s another story).

For those who think that my enthusiasm for the New Year is due to roses planned throughout the year, pat yourself on the back for being a positive thinker. The fact is, 2013 was full of thorns and so many downturns, that this year I felt I had nowhere to go but rosily up. Yes, that was the Jupiter-ruled, hopelessly optimistic Sagittarian in me talking.

The line between delusion and optimism has always been rather thin since perhaps the first time human beings experienced emotions. But you know what I notice has been thinning at a rapid pace in recent years? The fine line between realism and skepticism.

First off, I like statistics. I aced statistics classes throughout my undergrad and graduate business studies, and I enjoyed working with them during my brand management corporate career. Statistics provide a snapshot of a certain period in the past and if used wisely and correctly help project or forecast for a certain period in the future.

In my book, that'€™s one of the aspects of being realistic at the beginning of a story. Not as the only possible outcome of a story that'€™s yet to run, because that would be skeptical for not allowing the possibility that we may not know everything yet out there in the universe to have accounted everything in our forecast.

One of the most memorable chats during New Year'€™s brunch among us thirty somethings was how simpler, yet seemingly more at peace, our grandparents were. We'€™re all city-dwellers, who'€™ve lived in other parts of the world if I may add, and our grandparents, coincidentally, are lifelong villagers or hail from small towns.

Granted, urban living bears the most pressure '€” the pollution, the traffic, the pace, just to name a few factors. Opportunities are aplenty and with them come fierce competition'€”some of it healthy, most tending to be a rat-race.

'€œThe city that never sleeps'€ can no longer be affixed exclusively to New York, as metropolitan areas worldwide tend to go 24/7 now. The pressure to get ahead, or often to just stay afloat, is continuous and strong that we keep marching on and, at our supposed resting times, instead go searching for new ventures to march to.

The recent case of the ad girl in Jakarta who died in an intensive care unit after reportedly working for three days straight, or the thirty-something professionals who suddenly started dying on us lately, was and should have served as tragic reminders.

What my brunch buddies and I curiously realized was that while we all had higher education and wider exposure than what our grandparents enjoyed, we seemed to get anxious or worried easier for longer periods than they would.

We know more about germs, so we worry about our food. We know more about viruses, so we worry about our trips. We know more about finances, so we worry about our cash flow. We know more about parenting, so we worry about our kids. We know more about politics, so we worry about the elections.

Drawing back from one of those decision-making classes I took, it'€™s the classic case of '€œyou know that you don'€™t know'€ versus '€œyou don'€™t know that you don'€™t know'€. Perhaps ignorance, or lack of knowledge, is bliss after all.

So, what to do? I have no immediate plans to abandon urban living, or expand knowledge for that matter, but I'€™m seriously considering adopting the more relaxed attitudes of our grandparents or, for the lack of more politically-correct word, small town folk.

I'€™m more relaxed than I was during my corporate years but, as ironic as it sounds, I see room to grow so that I am much less high-strung. I'€™ve always been relatively optimistic, or at least looked the part, but I will be less conflicted for openly wishing against statistics among the high-achievers or uber rational crowd dotting my circle.

I will still read voraciously and form opinions '€” as a writer it'€™s impossible not to'€”but I may offer them more selectively while worrying less about possible comebacks. I will inject more discipline into my workout but draw out less guilt pangs for relishing an 8-hour beauty sleep.

I will continue making new connections yet deal more resolutely with ill-meaning souls. I shall be as carefree in love as I was during my early twenties, but without mentally beating myself up whenever things go south.

Delusion-optimism, realism-skepticism. Whichever side you are or whichever I'€™m leaning on, I'€™ll have a round. Clink-a-dink, for rosier 2014 I'€™ll cheerfully drink.

Lynda Ibrahim is a Jakarta-based writer and consultant with a penchant for purple, pussycats
and pop culture.

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