THE first day after we arrived in Los Angeles, I was at the beach in Sta. Monica, trying to convince myself that I finally made it to America. While enjoying the moment, feeling the cool and salty air, a busker started to play jazz music with his saxophone. As his music filled the air, a guy spontaneously glided to the center, and gracefully danced with the music. My heart fell in love again, and I didn’t hesitate to give my husband a kiss in public. Such beautiful moment of spontaneity that I wished I could freeze for everyone to experience! “Why can’t everyday be like this?” My romantic side wondered.
Sometimes in life, we react at the spur of the moment, and, for a moment, we wander from reality. Sometimes, too, we make decisions based on how we feel at that moment.
When my family moved to Bukidnon, I fell in love with the mountains and the green sceneries around. “I can live here forever!” I said to myself. Then I started dreaming of settling down and buying a field to farm. That was only last year. Now, I’m beginning to think of claiming my city life back!
Fickle our human heart can be, it’s our proof of being alive. We respond and react spontaneously, but we can also do that intelligently. I learned from elementary that that ability separates us from animals. We can have self-control and train our heart how to be still but not stoic, spontaneous but not carefree.
Few days ago, my husband and I gathered our children for a family meeting to update everyone with news related to the pandemic and the possible scenarios that could happen to our family. We cannot be only overwhelmed with news about the deaths of friends and people we know. Though we pray and make effort for every family member to be safe by following health and safety protocols, we also need to anticipate our response to different possible worse scenarios. We cannot just spontaneously react or rely on our instinct. We can plan intelligently and wisely. So, we agreed on which room to use when one member is infected. We also agreed on strengthening our prevention measures. One daughter already started to get emotional when my husband asked, “what if there’s a casualty among us?” Much as we wanted our family meetings to be fun and full of positive talks, we also need to face the hard part of life. And we need to help train the hearts of our children (ours included) to not just spontaneously react but to intelligently respond. “Easier said,” one may say. But I would also say “harder if unplanned.”
Last night, one of my students sent an excuse letter. Her grandfather died of Covid while under her care. She wrote, “Ma’am, I’m still in shock. My family is grieving and now all of us are in quarantine.” With heavy heart, I replied, “Please take time to grieve. Catch up with class work when you are ready.” My student was excused to grieve but she also needs to bounce back to reality and face her school responsibilities.
Going back to that moment at the beach in Sta. Monica; I could only possibly freeze that in my mind and visualize myself daily enjoying the sea breeze, the buskers’ music, and the view of Beverly Hills from there because, in reality, I didn’t have the capacity to make that happen. That was only a quick side trip gifted to us by generous relatives. and I didn’t even have a cent to buy a souvenir. My heart can only wish and hope for beautiful things every day, but there is a bigger reality beyond our ability to control. We can but only choose our response.
How we wish this pandemic did not happen in our time. But we can only wish because it already did and it’s not over yet.
‘“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)
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