Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Archive for January 17th, 2010


Saying yes to life 5

Posted on January 17, 2010 by jimparedes

A few days ago, at lunch with my daughter Ala, I told her how happy and proud I was that she did a great job on her first day as a courtroom sketch artist during the arraignment of Andal Ampatuan Jr. the other week. It was a job that came from out of the blue just the night before the trial by way of a call from someone she knew who worked in the Supreme Court.

A few days before the call, Ala was talking casually with that same friend about courtroom sketching which, for all practical purposes, was already a lost art, having been replaced by camera-toting media. But two days later, she got the call asking her to do precisely that. Her friend explained that since her bosses had decided to restrict the coverage by media, they needed someone who would witness the proceedings and sketch it for everyone to see. And her friend had no one else to call at 11 p.m. for the sketching job the next morning.

Ala accepted it in an instant.

My daughter is here on vacation and was actually scheduled to go back to Sydney on Jan. 13. But she had postponed her trip to see more of her friends after the Christmas holidays. She had no idea that something as big as this would come her way since she had just graduated from art school in Sydney three weeks earlier.

It was a bolt out of the blue, the kind of offer that makes you suspect that, somehow, the gods are revealing a new track for you to follow.

I am reminded what Joseph Campbell wrote: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” John Lennon wryly put it, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

Now Ala’s problem is how much longer she should stay in Manila to perform this non-paying job, while her life and boyfriend await her return to Sydney.

There is something disturbing yet somewhat magical (depending on the person involved) that happens when one’s plans are suddenly disrupted, schedules are altered, or projected futures are put on hold or radically changed. While it can get us all riled up and upset, it can also awaken in us the sense of aliveness so wanting in a life that has become predictable.

The number one thing we complain or fuss about when things suddenly change is our lack of preparedness. On one level, this is true. We are never prepared for many things, say, the death of a loved one, the sudden loss of income or job, or illness. And we probably will never be fully prepared, even when such things are expected.

On another level, preparedness for unforeseen circumstances loses its centrality when one decides as soon as possible to accept a situation and deal with it. Yes, the world is unfair, but one can decide to stop crying and instead make the most of it.

Even people of faith are not immune from such tests of spiritual mettle. A religious friend in Facebook often describes her life and her relationship with the divine as akin to following the orders of an “untamed God” especially when talking about the vicissitudes of life. God can seem to be irrational, unpredictable, inconsiderate, and yes, seemingly cruel. That’s why we need faith, put simply, to make us say “yes” and to accept lovingly a situation that we do not always understand.

I was in a predicament more than 10 years ago when I lost a job on TV that gave me 90 percent of my income. It was a rough ride on many levels. I had lost a lot of money and my ego was crushed. It affected me materially, emotionally and, yes, even spiritually.

Even if the signs were there that the show was on its way out, I was actually in denial. I went through the classic gamut of emotions that people who experience great loss go through. I went through shock, then denial. Bargaining soon followed until I realized the futility of trying to get back what was lost forever. It took a few months before I found the serenity to accept what I could not change

When acceptance finally came, I got a firm grip on myself and calmed the swirling tide of self-pity that I was drowning in. In place of the big disappointment, a great wave of energy came over me, which seemed to awaken every aspect of my being, especially those that I did not even know existed. I awakened to new powers of discernment and dormant talents that would never have emerged if I had continued being too comfortable living a predictable existence.

It’s as if the Universe had kicked my butt and threw me off to parts unknown, to a newer adventure, or a new mission.

I realized that I had a lot of time on my hands and began to do things that I had always dreamed of doing but never took seriously. I wrote four books in five years, taught two subjects at the Ateneo University, ran creativity workshops and expanded my intellectual and spiritual horizons like never before. I was wide open to life and it felt like I was more adept at dealing with what my friend called the “untamed God.” I was coming from zero and was not afraid to engage it and whatever or wherever it wanted to put me. What else could I possibly lose?

Saying “yes” opens us not just to transforming our outer world but more importantly, to awakening to an inner one. It is where the real change happens, for in the process, where we thought we had retreated with our backs to the wall, we find a liberating, endless spaciousness where our spirit can dance. Where we dreamed that we would triumph over our enemies, we conquer the bigger adversity, which is ourselves.

This template of experience has actually been around for sometime. And yet, each one who goes through it feels it is a process uniquely his own. But as Joseph Campbell puts it so marvelously, “Where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

* * *

Is there a dream dreaming you? Are you just living in someone else’s life? Would you like to live your own life and experience the greatest privilege of being who you really are?

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There lies in you so much more than you know. Meet the bigger parts of yourself and set yourself free. Demolish what stops you from living your dream, or what prevents you from living a happy, productive, meaningful life. Experience your most empowered, creative and joyful year, and the rest of your lifetime.

The 50th run of “Tapping the Creative Universe” workshop is set for Jan. 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and Feb. 1. It’s from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Cost is P5,000 for all six sessions.

Write to emailjimp@gmail.com, or call 426-5375, 0916-855-4303 for inquiries and reservations.

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