Friday, September 30, 2011

Happiness is not an Ending

The pursuit of happiness.  I have come across this phrase quite a number of times.  And I wonder why.

Is it because most people think of happiness as something so elusive?  Many times, I have heard and read about people wanting to be happy.  Some even list it as their ultimate goal.

But I disagree.  As I have always said, happiness is a choice, albeit a more difficult one.  Happiness is also not a goal or an ending.  It is something we can achieve even while we embark on this adventure we call life.  We don't live because we want to be happy in the end.  We are happy simply because we live. 

As I celebrated my twenty-eight birthday recently, I give thanks to God for this wonderful blessing of my life.  And I give thanks too to and for my loved ones and friends - these people who add vibrancy to my already great life with the personal touch they put to it. 

Happiness is not an ending.  Surrounded by my loved ones, it is something I have always had.  It is something my parents showered me with from the time I was conceived.  It is something I see in their proud eyes and is also reflected in mine .  It is something I feel every time the family gets together.  Something my friends and I also share.

Happiness is the celebration of the person that I am.  It is reveling in my individuality and the appreciation I have for what I have been blessed with. 

Happiness is also the security I have in my rewarding career.  It is also in being able to travel and shop and indulge in my favorite food.  In being lost in a good book.  Or music.  Or being entertained by a movie.

But happiness is not just about the good things in life.  Happiness is also knowing that my tears of sorrow or pain have sprouted lessons that now guide my present and future.  It is growing up.

As I look back on what was and look forward to what will be, I remember the many happy birthdays I have been greeted with these past twenty-eight years.  

And I smile because indeed, it is a happy life I live.

Friday, September 16, 2011

God Takes

I love how Facebook now enables us to go on a trip down memory lane by posting our status messages a year ago.  It's very helpful for me because sometimes, I just randomly share my thoughts and feelings on Facebook (and also on Yahoo Messenger) and forget to share them in my blog.  Below is my status message a year ago, which again reminded me to let go and let God.

Heaven sends and heaven takes but come what may, I believe in You, my Lord and my God, for your ways are different from ours... 

... and so, I surrender - with no fear - just with trust and faith and obedience. Take away what is good so you may give me what is best.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary

O Mary today we celebrate your feast
And to thank you for your openness and generosity is what I can do least
I want to be like you, my dear Mother -
A simple servant of Christ and His faithful follower.

found in my journal & written when I was nineteen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Of Life and the Sea

I was eight.  We were on a family outing and mommy was teaching me how to swim.  Both her hands supported my weight as she coaxed me to paddle.  I paddled as hard as I could.  We did this many times till my body ached.  And we did it again in our succeeding beach outings.

When she thought I could do it, mommy did not place her hands under my body lying facedown on the water and just said words of encouragement as I tried to support my weight on my own.  I sank.  But mommy was quick to haul me back into her arms.  She hugged me and tousled my hair to soothe me, all the while whispering words of encouragement.  But I shook my head, scared of again sinking while I struggled, helplessly flailing my hands as salty water made its way into my nose and mouth.

My fear of being in an open water heightened when during one of our beach outings, two teens from a nearby cottage drifted far away into the sea and had to be rescued by a boat.  Their family members were so sick with worry that some even wept as the boat was dispatched to look for them.  Once reunited, the teens said they slept while on a life buoy and woke up to find themselves in the middle of the sea. 

Despite their happy ending of being reunited with their family, their ordeal left an imprint of a great fear of the sea on me.  From then on, I made sure to wade but only waist-deep in the waters.  During outings, my companions who were in the deeper part of the sea would wave their hands invitingly but I would only go as far as to where the waters reached my neck.  And once there was an onslaught of waves, I would hurriedly go back to where the shore was, fearful of being tided over by those waves.

As these memories come to me now when I am faced with a great personal dilemma, I realize how I have been playing safe all along. 

From 2001 to 2005, I waded but only waist-deep in the waters, testing if it suited me.  Then one really big tide of a trial happened in 2005.  Confused, hurt and even angry, I retreated back into the shore and comfortably settled there for years.  I thought I was okay.  I thought I would always be okay there.  That to the shore was where I belong.  But in 2010, the water again beckoned to me.  Scared, I retreated farther back into where the land was but the water time and again called out to me.  I resisted but the more I did, the more I suffered.

And so I summoned all the logic in me to battle with what my heart wanted.  I wanted nothing of the water.  It was dark and deep and endless.  I did not know what awaited me there.  Waves crashed against it.  Anything on it either drifted somewhere else or got drowned.  The shore, meanwhile, remained a bastion of safety.  A haven where the water could only touch but not claim it. 

2011 came.  The water now more loudly called out to me.  I again summoned my logic to rationalize my response but it compromised with my heart by telling me to just wade waist-deep into the water and see how it would go...

I've been waist-deep in the water since and I must say it's something I am getting used to.  It's something I actually prefer but am scared of fully embracing.  I have even told myself that this is the perfect spot because here, I get the best of both worlds.  I am at sea but the shore is just a "swim" away.  If push comes to shove, if a big tide is coming, I can always head back to the shore.

Swim.  Using this word makes me realize that I never did learn how to swim.  And all because I have feared the water.  The water that has been calling out to me for the longest time now.  The water that I am so scared of fully committing myself to for fear of it again hurting me.

But as today's memories make me re-realize my fear of the water, as earlier said, it also makes me realize that if I continue standing on its shallow part, just like I missed learning how to swim, I will also miss what really is in store for me in it.  What I am really called to life to.

Yes, I either have to go back to the shore and stay there for good or risk it all and fully be enveloped in water.

I admit I have reservations.  I still have my fears.  But as AndrĂ© Gide wrote, "Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."