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HONORING MY MOTHER | A lingering exercise

By Icoy San Pedro

DURING my younger years, I used to think that double-tasking was such a great cheat code one could use in life. Back then, I thought, not only can you accomplish things faster, at the end of your assigned two-in-one task, you realize you’ve saved a lot of extra time. These, you could then opt to either use for other tasks or for a well-deserved rest. I thought, aside from the output(s), an option, what a treat! Almost like a dinner and a show! I remember a friend and co-worker during my NGO days describing such type of efficiency (if it were) as “industrial line”.

Later on, I realized that this only applied for simpler tasks, it wasn’t applicable to all. The late Teacher Detty, kindergarten teacher of my second son would always remind her tiny ones, ”Ang nagmamadali, nagkakamali” (the one who’s in a hurry always makes mistakes) and I felt that was more like it. Thanks to her, I likewise realized life can never be one long industrial line, efficient and cool in its runnings. On the contrary, life was basically knotted, marred with with ups and downs, unpredictable and murky, and lastly laden like a minefield. It was Buddha who in a nutshell said, life is hard. So, from then on, the new objective I wanted to employ was just to focus.

Sadly, I wasn’t the type to be focus-y. (Remember the baby who couldn’t wait to eat the marshmallow?) One memory has me peeling potatoes. There’s always a lot of time to think whenever one is doing such monotonous chore. Yet, ‘think’ is hardly the word; it’s more like ‘daydream’ to be exact. And I am always guilty of such. As everyone knows, simple as it is, one has to particularly be concentrated and precise when peeling potatoes, lest you cut a finger. In this scenario, with the added-pressure of the mum hurrying you up for the whole bunch to meet the pot, you remind yourself, ‘focus demit, don’t daydream’! The struggle is real. But by the third potato, you’re slipping into daydreams again. Now, replicate that in many chores and yup, that’s me. (begin singing Daydream Believer)

However, nothing beats millennials. Many a time, I would catch my young son doing something with one hand and navigating his cell phone with the other. At resto-bars where we eat at, I have likewise observed other young ones doing the same. Are the new generations gifted with such extreme dexterity? At least, in my son’s case, I always remind him it’s fine on ordinary chores like washing the dishes. Besides, wouldn’t that be a sight to see, right? However, on critical chores or ones that concern safety or life and death, I demand the utmost focus.

Going back to me, I scold myself at times. My memory hasn’t been so good lately and sometimes, it feels like looking out the window of a speeding car; not much view except for an endless blur. The predicament is further compounded by the slowly-increasing pile of suggestions like ‘keep busy’, or ‘adopt a new hobby’ which pester me indeed. So, for now, peeling potatoes is fine, just have to watch out for ‘em fingers.

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