Around the same time every week, I stare at the screen and wonder: What am I going to write about now? Half the time, really, I do not know for sure. I’ve felt that way every time a deadline looms before me, from the very first day I started writing regularly for this space. Tito Dougs told me once back then, “Don’t worry about what you will write about, it will come. Don’t look too far ahead lest you get overwhelmed. Deal with it one week at a time, and before you know it a year will have already passed.” I’ve thought about that quite a few times and it is true on many levels. Once you commit to something, you show up for it — the way, as a student, you show up for school even when you don’t feel like it, the way you especially show up when there is a long exam and you’re only half-prepared for it. Simply put, if you want something to happen, you commit to it, and then you dive into it. Practical wisdom will dictate that.
So on days like today, when I do not know exactly what to say, I sit in a corner and open my laptop anyway. I stare at the screen, and then I start writing. Anything. I start with whatever comes to mind first. Sometimes the words just flow and a singular story jumps out of the page, other times my thoughts are not as organized and I have to rearrange them several times. Regardless. I know that just by trying, something will come of it. Effort will always merit a reward (most of the time, at least).
When I last went to dance class earlier this week my coach taught me a small detail to add to my rhumba walk. I’ve been learning the technique of the rhumba walk for all of maybe three years now and counting, and still there is something new to chew in every class. This new detail he taught me to apply to my rhumba walk made my hip movement deeper, and the key words were that I should imagine carving the number eight firmly into the floor. I would never have known how to do it properly had he asked me to very early on, when I was very new in dance class, and with none of the basic foundations of the technique. But because my learning happened in layers, and was spread out over a span of several years wherein we would go back and forth, in and out of set concepts, I understood exactly what he was asking me to do. I am working on that now, and will continue to do so over the next few months, like a new toy I am enamored with.
I remember when Juliana was very young and was just starting to learn how to write the letters of the alphabet in school. She came home one day, fat tears rolling down her chubby cheeks. When I asked her what could have broken her little heart so badly she explained to me in between sobs how she was so frustrated because she already wanted to write in script, like “big people, Mama.” I explained to her how things take time, how like Maria sung in The Sound of Music “…let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Learning anything for the first time has to start with the basics. And most things, like wine and stews and deep relationships, take time. That said, from now on, I promise myself to have even more respect for the process of learning, whether it is from the perspective of an adult or that of a child’s. I promise myself from now on to respect, too, the waiting, that time it takes to get from one point to the next. Many things we must learn in layers, starting with one idea and then building up on it slowly, knowing full well we may not fully appreciate the bigger lot if we do not tread patiently the little steps leading to its entirety.
Lately, almost every free day I get, I do some major spring cleaning. I feel light about it. I am also teaching myself to be detached — to give away even those things that are painful to part with. It’s not always easy, but it is doable. When we were in the thick of the campaign season for the May elections this year, I lived very simply. I did not need much — just good health to keep up with the crazy and demanding pace, good food, basic clothes. It was liberating — no need for any more than just sunblock and lipbalm and cheektint, months of not needing to wear high heels, each meal time with family and dear friends a time for rest and restoration and the building of even more memories. We are in between houses now and a bulk of the things that were easily and readily accessible are all still in boxes. It’s been almost a year and there has hardly been need to open any of those boxes in storage. Too many things — do we really need them all? So I have been sorting stuff into boxes, sending them off to recipients that are, thus far, very happy to be its new owners.
Relative to that I have also been taking out all these pretty things I have that were just kept hidden in cabinets and closets, waiting for a special time. Well, that special time is now, everyday there are many reasons to celebrate and so I have decided to use a select few randomly. From now on, I know I will create as many pretty corners around the home as I can, such that I can delight in them on a daily basis. Why reserve them for just sometimes when it can be enjoyed all the time? I brought out precious crystal bowls given by the dearest of friends, some were even wedding gifts from 15 years ago! I use fine porcelain and embroidered linen whether it is just us at home or we have impromptu guests. I bring out the prettiest of frames and prop them up here and there. If the dogs enter and start knocking them off, if the crystal or the silver falls and breaks and gets chipped or damaged in any way, well then that is just the way things are. At least they got chipped or worn out while in use, not when they were just sitting quietly in some dark cabinet, wrapped and insulated from the world and all the bumps and bruises it offers.
So now for me, more than anything, it’s all about being deliciously simple and happy in the every day. However life finds me — whether I am deliriously happy in a gathering of warm, good friends, seated beside a difficult person, upside down in some zen yoga pose I fail to do correctly, talking to someone I know is just pulling my leg, bent over trying to pick up a child that has fallen or is playing, buried in paperwork that just refuses to stop piling on, at a crossroads, I know that life just IS and that I can just BE. And with that thought alone something lights up inside me, from some old familiar place that for some strange reason, just feels so right and quite new.
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