Short Reminders

At home

It was Tuesday morning. I was getting ready to go to work. I was sitting motionless at the dining table, in front of a half-eaten breakfast. Beside my plate, I had set down a textbook on Cognitive Psychology, which is one of the, well, more mentally debilitating subjects in the field. I had intended to browse through the day’s lesson, but before I could even open the book, my mind was already running a thousand miles an hour—the things I still needed to do, all the papers I needed to check, the schedules I needed to iron out, and deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. I knew that to make it to work on time, I needed to study while eating, but I couldn’t bring my hand to open the damn book. I was too exhausted.

My mother was also getting ready for work. Like me, she is a teacher. And that morning, I could tell by the speed she was going at that she was about to be late. As she rushed past me, flinging and grabbing things left and right, I teasingly voiced out, “Busy? Busy?” in a manner that loosely translated to, “Ain’t got time to even breathe properly, have we?”

As she hurriedly put on her heels, she said, “At least, I still have a lot to be thankful for.”

That was the last line I expected to hear at that moment.

She continued, “Some of my contemporaries are no longer fit enough to work. [So-and-so] has been in-and-out of the hospital for [insert name of disease here]. [So-and-so] has passed away. [So-and-so] has been forced to retire because of [insert name of another disease here]. Your mother? At [insert 50-something age here], still alive and kicking, thriving and bustling.”

With that, she bid me a rushed goodbye and headed out the door. As she closed (almost slammed, in her hurry) the door behind her, my eyes began to well up.

Still have a lot to be thankful for, I repeated to myself.

* * *

At work

I had just finished the day’s lesson. I asked the class if they had any questions.

“Miss, do you already have a boyfriend?”

When I asked them if they had any questions, I meant, of course, any questions related to the lesson. No matter.

No,” I answered.

“Miss, when do you plan to have one? And to settle down?”

I smiled. These kids.

There is a time for everything,” I said simply.

Frankly, it’s a lesson I myself could learn to have a little more faith in.

* * *

On the road

It was a chilly evening. I was at the window seat of a bus parked at the terminal. End of the day, time to go home. As I waited for the bus to leave, I rested my head against the glass window pane and spied the people going to and fro outside.

A woman in a bright yellow T-shirt and faded black Capri pants caught my attention. Short but sturdily built, she was probably already in her late 50s but still so full of energy. She was one of the vendors in the area, and she was peddling beverages to the passengers on the buses. My eyes followed her as she marched to her tiny vending place, plunged her hands into a cooler, retrieved a bottled orange drink and a soda, and strode towards another bus to deliver the goods to a customer. Her strides were brisk and purposeful. One could tell she was used to work like such. She was used to life like such.

As my gaze continued to follow her while she proceeded to peddle beverages to other passengers, I remember thinking, Why is she living that life instead of another? Why am I living this life instead of hers? In an alternate universe, with the accidents of our births reversed, what would it have been like if I was born as she and she I? Would she be the one writing this, then, and I, getting ready for another day’s work of peddling beverages to bus passengers?

For the life of me, I cannot answer these philosophical questions. I am left only to marvel at the majesty and mystery of this life. Think about it. You are the person that you are in large part because you have been born to the family that you have, to the opportunities that have been afforded to you, in the place you have been assigned to. In the course of our lives, we get to choose a lot of things, but in a way, our origin—the very fabric with which we tailor who we are and the lives we lead—was not of our making.

Nonetheless, such is not a cause for despair or reason enough to ascribe to absolute fatalism. For enveloped with each of such origins is 1.) purpose and 2.) choice.

One, purpose. Each individual was born for a reason and a purpose only he or she can fulfill. Each person was born to do something no one else can, and to be someone no one else has ever been before and no one will ever be for the rest of time.

And two, choice. We each have a say on what we do with the fabric we have been dealt with from the start—the fabric of our beings. The colors that we have, we can enhance them or tarnish them. We can choose to have them blend in or stand out. We can attempt to dye them into something else, or choose to stay true to them.

There are a lot of things about which we never get to make a choice.

But there are also a lot of things about which we get to make one. For these things, may it be that we choose well.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Make the most of who you are and what you’ve been given.

No one else can do that for you.

Only you.

So please do. ♠

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” ― (source ambiguous: Albert Einstein/Gilbert Fowler White)

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Short Reminders

  1. This struck a chord in me, “You are the person that you are in large part because you have been born to the family that you have, to the opportunities that have been afforded to you, in the place you have been assigned to. In the course of our lives, we get to choose a lot of things, but in a way, our origin—the very fabric with which we tailor who we are and the lives we lead—was not of our making.” Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring thoughts. 🙂

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s