The busyness of life

About a month back I sent out this huge letter to the universe, with little more than hope and a prayer to seal it. And because God answers faithful and expectant prayers, that letter was acknowledged, affirmed, and replied to in a most positive way. I am excited to work on it and to see how it will all unfold. I am grateful, beyond thankful, and I have in fact been walking on a cloud for the most part since then.

But last night, just last night, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed about all sorts of things, mostly work-related. I had a bunch of letters to write, paperwork to file, was disappointed over the inefficiency of people. Add to that the fact that I had a very long and still-growing to-do list that I needed to dispose of, and… I honestly did not know anymore where to start. So I sat at my desk, the same one I’ve had since day one of my life here in Manila, the very desk that has since grown extra lengths on both sides and shelves overhead, and seems to have a life all its own — growing mounds of paper here and there by the day, it being the dumping port of practically all the mail that goes in and out and the message center of every member in the family including, and most especially, the househelp (they’ve all taken to writing me notes and reminders among which include “Ma’am, day-off po ako bukas,” “Ma’am yung retainers ni Juliananawawala,” “Honey, please sign these documents,” “Mama, I heard you and Dad talking last night, my goodness you were cheesy!” (Never believe that an 11-year-old child is actually sleeping because their ears apparently are never fully asleep!), or “Mama, I need a birthday gift for Marta. I love you!”), “Ma’amkumuha po ako sa desk mo ng P400 para sa wheatgrass na in-order niyo kasi po tulog pa kayo.” “Ma’am,di na daw kaya ayusin yung blender, sunog na.)” They send me text messages, too, but I get dizzy because they have a penchant for changing their mobile numbers every so often. At least I can identify their notes by their handwriting, and the tone.

Juliana’s notes I keep in a pink plastic accordion envelope. I enjoy getting them and I take pleasure in the doodles that she makes alongside the words. Even the helpers’ little notes make me laugh and smile.

This system somehow works for all of us — I appreciate how it always is an effective means of communication within the household. Anyone of them can just write me a line or two and I will be sure to not only see it, but also never forget to address it until the matter is disposed of appropriately. I do not know how it came to be, in the same way that I do not know exactly how we all develop rituals that are simply our own. Like growing up, it just sort of happens. You all feel your way through these things until a balance that is acceptable and easy and reasonable is reached. After a while, and especially when it is essentially the same people involved, things work like clockwork. I am blessed to always have helpers who stay on for years and years, a phenomenon endangered only when they fall in love, usually with either the guards or the drivers, even if that is an explicit no-no from day one. But it still happens, and when it does, what more can you do except shrug and sigh and wish them well, and maybe even become ninongor ninang to their weddings? At that point they have, after all, become family and more than that, they are only human, entitled to the full range of feelings and experiences. If they find their one great love within the household, who am I to question that? Live and let live.

So. There I was last night at my desk, with papers and checks for bills that I had to sign and on the floor several boxes of assorted stuff I needed to ship out to my cousins in Cebu and some in Ormoc. In different corners of the room are little islands of stuff that need to find storage space or a permanent place as they are just spilling over unapologetically. I ate chocolates while scanning the mess, all the while thinking about how this room really needs to be reconfigured. I cannot wait for that to happen. Miguel Pastor, he who designed Ben Chan’s beautiful home, has come up with a scheme for our bedroom that will allow for serenity and order, even as it capably holds in neatly all that needs to be in the room. I really am looking forward to that. Because, especially when life just gets so busy, the greatest everyday pleasure that can be had aside from the gift of family and friends will most likely include good meals, and a haven to come home to. The latter really has to be next on the agenda. Comfortable as our room is, life has taken over it in a big way and it has ceased to be the restful space it once was. It just stimulates so much activity the way it is laid out now.

I mindlessly and guiltlessly ate the chocolates in sinful amounts, as I meditated on that and the state of my desk, as it holds enough work to keep me up till the wee hours of the morning. I am overwhelmed. But like math subjects in school, there is no escaping it. And whatever I was not able to finish I might as well get down to right now.

And that is the way life goes for now. Until our room is reconfigured beautifully, I shall continue to do as I do: plan and dream and write letters and file papers, and run errands, in between seeking reprieve from the comforting presence of the people in my life. Immediately on my list are the following: Get a new rice dispenser (the one my sister gave us conked out finally but it lasted all of 11 years!), buy new nail cutters and AA batteries, fill out Juliana’s form for the tail- end of her summer activities, buy more wooden hangers.

And after all that, I will reward myself by watching two episodes of Missing, a hot water bottle on my tummy for warmth (maybe it will help melt all the chocolates I just ate, please?), and engage in a little conversation with my friend God, thanking Him for all the blessings and for that huge letter I sent out that was answered beautifully. Somewhere along the way, know that I will also apologize for sometimes feeling overwhelmed, as I did last night, about the busyness of life.


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