Saturday, January 14, 2012


One morning in April 2003, I was given a gift that would change my life evermore. On my way to work I came off with multitude of people scampering and scrambling across the road. I looked around and saw houses enveloped by massive black smoke cleaved by intermittent blaze of flames. For a second, I gaped at the fire trying to take the actuality of the scene. I boarded out the vehicle to make my way through the crowd. I watched as people tried to retrieve pieces of anything that could be saved. I was looking in, contemplating and completely powerless to help. Some were just crying, watching the fruits of their handwork vanished before their eyes. I left the place when I saw firemen retrieved the bodies of two kids charred to death. This scenario taught me some important lessons in life. In an instant, everything can disappear forever. Your love ones can leave you without a final word. All the material things that we thought that are so important can be meaningless and worthless in a matter of seconds.

When I arrived at the office, that blazing scenario and the burnt bodies flashed back in my mind. This cataclysm forced me to take a closer look how I was living my life. My thoughts immediately turned to the people in my life, my kids, my wife. I realized a fire is like any natural calamity (just like Ondoy and Sendong) – it puts you in touch with how quickly life can change and how priceless every moment is. My perception changed and found myself asking some questions. Am I really happy? My work was exasperating. Hours were long and hard. My life felt like one lofty workday after another with very little else in between. I was so dissipated with getting the work done, delighting other people and keeping the boss elated that I never raised my head up from my drawing board enough to see what I was doing to my life. When I get home, I am enervated and just passed out on the couch and the next day it just begins all over again. Most evenings I barely got a good night sleep thinking how I would finish all the projects. I usually found myself overreacting to the slightest mistakes made by my kids and unapproachable when my wife asks me something. Vacations have become rejuvenation periods instead of leisure and recreation with my family. That burning houses became an analogy to me - I was misspending the precious time I had on this planet. I needed to slow down, take a truthful look at my life and what I really wanted. I was starting to see everything, all my time, spirit and vigor was being spent on the needs of others in the expense of my own needs.

The reality is, when I ask myself what I’d do if I lose my job it frightens me to death that I really don’t have the answer. Clearly I realized that a stable job or a prestigious position does not necessarily bring happiness. Instead, it brings a lot of accountability and high level of stress which at times leave your feeling depleted and out of touch with what’s really important in your life. Such feeling can be the reason why I kept myself alone and assiduous. I am so buried with work that I forgot that I have needs too, that my family needs my time. I have lost contact with myself and with those I love. When you are exhausted at the end of the day, fed up with working long hours, never feeling caught up, acknowledged or pleased you simply do not have the zest to spend on yourself or play with your kids or watch TV with your wife. Sometimes it feels beyond the bounds of possibilities to focus on your life when a tough and grievous job is taking up all your time and energy. This is when it’s critical to remember that you are in charge of your life. I am certain and convinced that our fears and discomforts coward us to make the choice for ourselves. Most of us think losing ones job would lead to a lot of psychological and budgetary changes or even trauma. I got caught up with this mentality and I forgot that I am the one running my own show. I forgot to believe in myself, my soul, that my actions are the seeds that grow into destiny .Such dogma take its price and I forgot to believe in myself. I should hear the wisdom of my soul and take action and I should find myself in the path that always leads to my highest good. It really does not matter how much money we have made, the successful careers we have, the education, recognition and all the accolades bequeath to us. Life is too short and our lives are truly made richer by the relationships that we share with each other.

The fire scenario became a metaphor to me. It enables me to realize that the most important part of my life is me. Learning to say No unless it is an absolute YES. A high quality life starts with a high quality me by giving myself the permission to make the quality of my life my top priority. This means putting myself above anything else, choosing to spend my time and energy on things that really brings joy to me and to my family and making decisions based on what is right instead of what just others want me to do. To truly love and respect one self would be the best choice to start a strong foundation of a rich and fulfilling life. Making a decision to change our life starts by making personal choice. Sometimes we have to trade in those unsupportive relationships, criticisms, and those people who put you down for more life enhancing ones and to have a more dignified persona. Honoring ourselves is the greatest gift we can give to our family and to anyone else to end up becoming a better father, mother, husband, wife, and friend.

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