When life beginsBy Louiegene Arnold Q. Valdez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
So what will you do when a dream that is about to be realized suddenly explodes? What will you do when people close to you start leaving because their expectation of you fell short? What will you do when clouds of insult push you to the corner, adding to your injury?
Personally, I will gather the scattered pieces of my dream and continue dreaming. I will get my strength back, rise from the fall, step forward, and continue the journey. Quitting has no place in the heart of a champion.
I will cling to someone who trusts me. I will draw strength from someone whose confidence in me persists. I will follow my instincts and, through the process of elimination, I will deselect those people who pretend to be perfect yet walk in rotten bodies. I will select a few who are imperfect yet real, and who show me that life is beautiful despite the odds. Being choosy is a must for a champion.
I will welcome what other people say of me. I will let them grow tired of mouthing words. Soon they will feel weak, until they can no longer speak a word. I will not allow them to break my focus. Going down to their level is not good for a champion.
I will persist. I will stay focused. I will follow my instinct. I will continue chasing my dream. I will be a champion.
I was born in 1986 but my life began in 2011. My life is about my dream to become a priest. I was about to be ordained in 2011 but I let that chance slip from my hands.
That was the fool me. That was not the best me. I almost let my dream be totally broken, like a glass hurled on the floor. It was painful to be hit by the shards. I bled. I cried. I almost gave up, until I regained my consciousness and had this clarity of desire: “I will fix that broken glass.”
And so it happened. I put the pieces back. I was wounded in doing so, but I did not give up. I pondered on the lessons it gave me and continued to chase my dream. But rebuilding a dream is not easy. Life is never easy. It requires hard work and patience. In life, therefore, be diligent, be patient.
At that point in my life, I realized that I was surrounded by two kinds of people: the fake and the real. Both groups were part of my world. Both became like a family to me. I could hardly distinguish one from the other. Yet with the life that came in 2012, their true colors emerged. I found that people are not the same. Some are rude, others cordial. Some are judgmental, others progressive. Some think they are perfect, others are open-minded. The fake are rude and judgmental and believe they are perfect. The real are cordial, accepting, and understanding. These two groups are always with us. Be careful whom to be with. Be wise, distinguish your company, and do not be attached to them fully.
Sooner or later you will realize that some of those with whom you share food are rotten bodies filled with worms.
Life has taught me to be respectful and humble and to always be myself. I must never pretend and never do something just to please someone. After all, it is I who make my life. It is I who walk the journey. It is I who walk toward my destiny. Allow them to be themselves until they realize what they are doing. Somehow they will get tired of pulling you down, as my life will testify. Just be focused and be determined to reach for your goal. Whatever it takes, whatever the odds, follow your dream and live it zealously. Don’t simply settle for what is there. Work your way and discover how to fulfill your dream even if it means taking the less traveled road. Believe you can do it and eventually you will. Most importantly, keep your faith and trust in Him.
These are but a few thoughts on the year that was. This is the beginning of my life. I am ready to write the next chapters.
Rev. Fr. Louiegene Arnold Q. Valdez, 27, is the assistant parish priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in San Juan, Abra.
By Mark Alconaba Geronimo
There you are, on your sickbed. You are imagining what you can be doing out there if you were not sick, if your head is not heavier than usual and the world seems not to be turning as fast as it should. At any rate, you want to banish these thoughts and focus on your well-deserved rest.
At this moment, you are contemplating several things in your life: your relationship with your family and friends, your work, and your profession. This must be because there is nothing you can do right now but lie on your sickbed. An abrupt change of routine is basically a discomfort. You have been used to doing several things all at once, to multitasking, usually under pressure. Hence, memories from your childhood up to the present are crowding your mind. It’s probably your brain’s own way to keep busy.
It took several unfortunate experiences before you got to your sickbed. It was your first time to walk to the hospital alone from your workplace after realizing that what you were feeling was beyond your pain tolerance. It wasn’t that easy to follow hospital protocols in your condition. It was a good thing that two of your work buddies came to accompany you in the first half of the checkup procedure. They had to leave you in the second half. But you understand that they have their own lives and engagements.
Quickly, it sank in that you were on your own.
Life is like that—a metaphorical test paper, a test of courage and independence. You had to experience waiting for a seeming eternity all by yourself. Even simple chitchat would have been a relief at that time. You had to experience watching other people with really severe cases (it made you a lot sicker). A companion’s back could have been the best place to hide from what you were seeing.
You decide to send your mother a text message to inform her of your condition. But you do not like the idea that she will worry about you. So you decide not to give too many details. You finally understand that when you live alone several kilometers away from the family home, a situation like this can seem a lot worse than it usually is.
On the bright side, you realize that your sickbed can be an opportunity to rest, to contemplate, to rejuvenate. A computer that malfunctions and is sluggish has to refresh or restart itself. You are more than a computer, but doing the same is a great help. When you stop to breathe in a gust of fresh air, you begin to realize your self-worth, or your importance to the people who love you.
Like you, some people just need a restart to get going again. The next time around after this experience, you may be even better. Life is no joke. You have to learn from it from time to time. You also learn to frame a smile despite your condition, for people who believe that you can hurdle some things like this. Their encouragement and advice, more than the capsules and tablets that you are taking, can be the best panacea for your declining self-esteem.
At last, the thread of conversation with yourself has come to its conclusion. The idea of waking up from this sickbed excites you so much.
Mark Alconaba Geronimo, 24, is a mathematics teacher at St. Alexius College grade school in Koronadal City.
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