Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Grace of Fear

Recently, I met a good friend, who is scheduled to move to another country in a few months. As our time together was already limited, we had lunch and I, then, joined her in her errands for the day.

I was sad that she was leaving, but at the same time, I was excited for her as she embarks on a new chapter in her life.

I asked how she was as she was in the middle of handling all these transitions in her life.

Expectedly, she was having a hard time coping with the reality of leaving. She was afraid of the changes once she moves.

Who wouldn’t be? She will be leaving a meaningful career; she will be uprooting herself and leave her family and friends, where she has found consolation all her life.

She will be starting all over again – she will have to find new work, will stay in a new home, will have to embrace a new community, a new culture and take comfort in a new way of living.

Her emotions have been skyrocketing. There have been uncertainty, self-doubt, and even anger and a bit of depression. She was anxious. She was in fear.

The common advice to such experience is that everything will be fine; that what we need is to trust that things will fall into place. I am guilty of such sweeping statements.

But to say that to a person who is scared might not be the best prescription at the moment. To ask that person to be brave and take on courage might be too dismissive of what one is experiencing.

Moreover, I think what we need to do first is to acknowledge the fear that is upon the person.

Recognizing fear is to admitting that we are weak and vulnerable; fear entails losing control, especially of our own future. Such experience is discomforting and powerful that we tend to run away from the feeling and immediately gather strength.

There’s nothing wrong with being strong-willed; it is even laudable and inspiring to be dauntless and resolute.

However, I think that to deprive us of the experience of fear is a form of disservice to ourselves. To experience fear is to be human. To be afraid is to affirm our nothingness – that life is not just about us.

To be in terror is to concede that there is someone (or something) greater than us, perhaps God, Allah, the universe, or fate.

Our experience of unrest is grace. It is a gift where we accept our limitedness as beings.

We fear because we love.

For my friend, she is in discontent because she doesn’t know what will happen to her family and friends when she leaves them, or to her organization when she retires.

What will happen to her in the new country? Will she experience affirmation, warmth and love in the new environment and the new community she will be in?

Possibly, the invitation for us is to appreciate how fear is such a powerful human experience. From fear, we realize that we can only do so much, and that we hold on to hope and faith for a better future for ourselves and for others.

It is in the experience of fear that we rediscover our capacity to love, that despite the ambivalence, we know that we will continue to choose to love.

18 May 2015 | Pasay, the Philippines

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Deciding to Decide

Recently, I met some former youth leaders to catch up and have a mini-reunion. I haven’t had the time to meet them in the past year due to my own transitions, both personal and professional.

It was a light and fun; we reminisced their experiences from the work that we did, and listened to the stories of their own journeys. In a span of a couple of years, from their college graduations to being young professionals and graduate students, they made a lot of decisions for themselves.

I was consoled with their own stories of discernment, how they took the time to carefully assess their options, and how they tried to grasp the ever-changing landscape of their experiences, even at their youth.

One youth leader’s story particularly struck me. He recently resigned from his job a month ago and was now doing freelance work. The former job was stable and he loved it. Furthermore, the job allowed him to do other things that he loved.

Yet, after all the perks, he felt that he needed to move on to grow, even though he wasn’t sure if there are other jobs out there that would accommodate such similar leeway.

I asked him how come he decided so soon when he could have afforded to wait for another year before leaving.

He said that it was a more rational decision to wait it out until his contract with his company expired. He would have had the time to discern more if the proper move was to extend his contract or move on.

It was safe to stay put. But for his case, it was more freeing to resign now and take chances.

Looking Down Off a Cliff

The decision making process is a slow and tedious process – especially, when these are big life transitions – choosing a partner, getting married, settling in a new country, taking on a new career and the like. It takes time, a lot of weighing on the pros and cons, consultations from important people, reflections on future scenarios and possible consequences, and for others, a lot of prayer.

Yet, for some cases, the process may not be that linear and contemplation may be done on the go. Even when there’s no guarantee, the situation may call us for a deep dive into the wilderness of ambivalence immediately, ask us to go with the flow, and trust that at the end of the day, everything will settle and fall into place.

Either way, discernment, may it be a short and quick resolution making or a contiguous and complex exercise, should be able to help us make a choice – and not hide us from the fact of making one.

Sometimes, it’s good to take time to gather courage, discern properly and weigh all the options before deciding.

However, sometimes, it’s also good to go with guts and take that leap of faith. Deciding to decide may free us from our own unfreedoms of discomfort, uncertainty and self-doubt, which hinder us from grabbing new opportunities, exploring the world, and re-discovering ourselves.

Uno Morato Bookstore Bar, Quezon City, the Philippines | 16 May 2015

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‘Till We’re 70

It’s an exciting time for a number of my friends as it’s wedding season for them – either they got married recently or will be marrying in the next year. One particular couple decided to do a DIY wedding and we gladly helped out.

There was one meeting when our younger friends just attended an Ed Sheeran’s concert and were in bliss singing his songs. They even suggested playing some of his songs during the reception.

Out of touch, I researched his songs to know if these were truly catchy and apt for the wedding.

The song, “Thinking Out Loud,” particularly caught my attention. The melody was lovely and romantic that it fit for the wedding reception. The couple liked ‘current’ songs; thus, we put it in the playlist.

The lyrics particularly caught my attention:

“When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?”

Is it possible in this time and age to sustain love forever? The number of broken marriages and families in the world is currently at a growing rate, and still, couples decide to commit to long-term relationships.

Then, the song answers my rhetoric.

“And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me I fall in love with you every single day”

The last line particularly struck me. Long-term relationships perhaps are built on everyday loving decisions. Great love stories are founded on choices done not only during special occasions, but also on routinely, boring days and conflict-filled and trying moments. Probably, one could look at loving another person as grace – an everyday gift and opportunity uniquely and personally given to us.

Once, I went to a park to read a book and have a relaxing afternoon. I came across a couple in their seventies, affectionately preparing merienda for each other. Slower than usual, the man was kindly preparing their sandwiches and the woman was pouring juice into their glasses.

Cinematic, a cliché, yet real.

I smiled at them, and walked away consoled on the possibility of loving ‘till 70.

9 May 2015 | Antipolo, the Philippines


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