Life is what you make it. Life is the flower of which love is the honey. Life is a series of paradigm shifts. Life is only a fragment of the infinite; far from giving it a meaning destroys its every possible meaning.” I can still remember how I exactly defined life this way in my philosophy class in college.
If asked now the meaning of life, I would find the answer as elusive as a butterfly without understanding the least of what satisfies my soul. I may uphold that life is living with intention, walking to the edge, listening hard, practicing wellness, playing with abandon, laughing, choosing with no regret, continuing to learn, appreciating friends, and living as if this were all there is. But ultimately one thing is certain: It is the realization that the soul can do without everything except the passion that feeds it, and the constant upholding of my belief and faith that nothing can come short if you love and put what matters in your heart.
At one point or another, I know I am called to live far beyond my deepest intentions. My parents have been my powerful compass not only during my journey toward law school but also before it. Like any other kid, I had many frustrations; I wanted to be a great civil engineer, journalist, manager of my own business, even a rock star. I’m glad that I was brought up as a cowboy and old soul who hates dogmas, maintains minimalism, and simply enjoys life’s celebration.
Stepping into the world of accountants made me want to seek powerful change in life. I am convinced that much of what we have done for ourselves dies with us, but what we have done for others remains a legacy and is immortal. Our respective noble professions have a lot to offer in society. When I was reviewing in preparation for the board examinations for certified public accountants, I had many inspirations, and it is in being a lawyer that I see a worthier purpose and a bigger arena.
My aspiration to become a lawyer simmered when I started working in an audit firm. I did not think of leaving my job and entering law school because, primarily, of financial considerations, and because, secondly, of my profession as a CPA. My work life was hardly the mechanical 8-5 routine; it offered enough challenge to be interesting, enough ease to be enjoyable, enough camaraderie to be nourishing, enough solitude to be productive, enough leisure to feel refreshed, enough service to feel needed, enough silliness to have fun, and enough money to pay the bills… For all the hype about “going for the gold,” every end of the day made going to bed as good as it got.
I used to begin the year as an auditor who welcomes the so-called “busy season.” I can still remember those midnight side trips to a convenience store, coffee breaks, mind-bending reconciling and adjusting, temper bottles emptied and refilled, and overwhelming deadlines that my teammates and I used to grapple with till the wee hours. All those outbursts, the constant pressure, interrupted lives, missed weekend outings with friends, holiday work, all the challenges about going to work in a client’s office—every auditor gives his or her heart and soul for this season until April 15, the tax deadline.
There were days when I would just want to be eaten up by the fiery world and the noisy confusion of life. Being in a dreadful state, in a hurry and in momentum brought vigor in me. In a personally meaningful context, I have allowed, with no inhibitions, these experiences to confront me, disturb my security, undermine my complacency, and overthrow my patterns of thought and behavior.
I am humbled to have slowly found my peace of mind in my thirst and search for my inner self and for a better me. I arrived at a crossroads and the burning desire to be an instrument, a catalyst for change, has once again been ignited. One unexpected day brought my feet to this institution. I have since made the biggest decision in my life: to leave everything behind and to begin a new chapter, an endeavor to expand my professional horizon by seizing wholeheartedly and without reservation new challenges and opportunities. I want to advance my mantra of living within the truth and fundamentals of law, which encompasses spiritual, intellectual, relational and artistic growth.
As I write this after an enriching retreat, each day is a new day that colors another story for me. Months from now I will mark a birthday.
Dreams usually fade into the realities of professional politics, burnout, boredom, and intense competition, but the best birthday gift I could possibly receive is deeply feeling my rebirth. It is the gift of rekindling, of consciously knowing that years from now, I will still be certain of the same purpose of becoming a lawyer who is not easily swayed by popular opinion or political expediency, a lawyer whose independent judgment cannot be tainted with fear of reprisal, and a lawyer who knows how to take the reins and break the chain and stigma in society. It is my hope to live a life that is fuller, knowing how much beautiful mosaic and grace could come from chaos.
Often we look to inanimate objects of beauty in order to find that “gift.” We look to tactile or sensational stuff to provide us means by which we can exercise or refine our taste for that gift. But the greatest gift that is accessible to us every day and everywhere is the art found in each waking moment.
Today, I make it a discipline to go beyond instant gratification and work on attaining bigger goals that are earned through work and sacrifice. I am working with what’s at hand, with the opportunities that daily arise for engaging in things that do not rest solely on the technicalities of the world. The same sweating of blood, the same excitement to make it, and the same inspiration to seize each hour are in each day’s process.
Twenty-three years have passed and I’m glad my spirit never did. That same old woman who dares to do mighty things still lives in me. I am trusting that today’s sacrifices and preoccupations will stitch my continually adapting being into a masterpiece standing above any other work in the world’s finest museum.
Carlota Nicolas Villaroman, CPA, 23, is a graduate of Central Luzon State University and a freshman at San Beda College of Law.
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