HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star ) – June 28, 2020 – 12:00am
I know we don’t hear this very often from friends nor do we come across this sentiment easily these days. But here it goes:
I feel good.
At this exact moment while I am writing this, I can say I even feel great in all aspects.
It is the season of winter here in Sydney where I am living right now. I am happy, motivated, and feel a surge of energy returning to me. My body is strong. My disposition is positive. My spirit feels uplifted.
The specter of COVID-19 does not haunt us here in the way it does everyone in the Philippines and in many parts of the world. We have had zero cases in the entire state of New South Wales for more than two weeks now. I have not even worn a mask in days. And we pretty much live our lives almost the same way that we used to in pre-pandemic times. Even social distancing here is quite relaxed compared to how people practice it in Manila.
I am not sure if that is the main reason why I feel the way I do right now, although I know it surely brings a sense of relief knowing I and my family will most likely not be infected by this deadly virus. That is practically a certainty. And that is a big deal.
Or maybe it’s because it is winter. I have always liked the crisp air, the cold, the transformation that the season brings to everything. Winter makes me feel insulated and safe, perhaps because I am covered up in warm clothes, safe like a newly born infant all wrapped up in a hospital.
Or maybe because I may unknowingly be in a new cosmic cycle of life I don’t know about yet. Whatever it is, I am grateful that I feel the way I do these days.
Last night, I wrote a song the way I used to write 20 years ago. I put down the melody and lyrics very quickly. Done without too much effort. I felt a laser-like concentrated focus as I sat down with my guitar and a pen in hand while scribbling the words. The lyrics flowed abundantly. They left my hand so freely and naturally and rushed to affix themselves on the paper. The process was elegantly wonderful. And almost effortless.
The art of doing anything well is to do it with the least resistance. You simply flow into it. In many ways, you become it. You can compare yourself to a river. It knows where it should go. It knows its purpose. It does not make decisions nor feel any compulsion to do anything else. Its existence is its purpose. When I wrote the song last night, it was like self-validation.
I am happy because I have been in The Flow for the past few days. My mind has not been entertaining dramas and complications lately. This is not something I have willed to happen. I may have just unconsciously found myself not entertaining misgivings, or doubts or negativities that can often take over when I am in a creative mode. The dark forces are out of the room. Right now, I do not want intellectual analysis, self-criticism or ego to run my life. I just want things to simply unfold as they should. A flower blooms. The rain falls. The wind blows. All these happen without permission, reason or will. Life is as it is.
There is poetry and enchantment in everything. That is the vibe I have been getting from the Universe. And I have been in tune with this lately.
There are house chores that always need to be done again and again. I simply try to do them without fuss. Hanging the laundry, folding clothes, mopping the floor, sweeping the dust, fixing the bed, cooking breakfast —all these I embrace. And because I do, I have learned to delight in them. They only hurt when I try to resist or escape from the inevitable.
One of my favorite activities the past few months is exercise. I do this three or four times a week for more than an hour. I have been consistent for months now. I can proudly and truthfully say I am committed to exercising my body and to taking care of myself. I consider it a noble task each time I exercise. I am delighted when I defy gravity. It means I am alive. And each time I do it is a special time. Doing the routines is a challenge for my 68-year-old physique. At times, I am almost out of breath. But breathing in all that air while trying to slow down the pace and consciously watching my heart rate go down to normal gives me a psychological rush. There is so much going on inside of me. The mindfulness I apply to understanding my body can feel like a spiritual experience.
In exercise, there is the struggle to keep your body in good form, to do the reps, to finish each routine religiously. I have learned that I do not just withstand the pain; I thrive on it. The “No pain, no gain” mantra is real. The power of great effort indeed brings rewards. There is the release of endorphins that gives me a happy mood for many hours after. And there is also the feeling of achievement when I conquer myself.
I started this article by saying I feel great. I really do. But please don’t get me wrong.
I still am very much in touch with the news of what’s happening in the world, especially the Philippines. I hear from classmates, relatives and friends back home who are undergoing great financial and health crises. I read about the pain, fear and anxiety of life back home in these times. I also harbor some guilt that I am not suffering as much as the rest of my countrymen. Yes, I also feel all these negative emotions. I get frustrated, angry, anxious about where the country is going. Like many people. I also feel helpless.
But I notice that the more I feel the suffering of others, the better I can handle my own feelings of helplessness. For one, I do something however small to ease suffering when I see it. I write messages to people who cry out on social media. I condole with people I don’t know who have lost their loved ones. I help in fundraising efforts for the poor who face the specter of hunger. The irony is, while I open myself to more suffering, I feel the pain less. Why is that? I don’t know. Maybe an inner strength takes over when we accept how things are.
I have never attended as many Masses as I have these days. Thanks to the internet, we can have Masses daily without fear of getting the virus. This helps me feel calm down and feel connected to the Ultimate Power behind all things.
As we all watch and wonder what the future of life will be because of this pandemic, I have learned to continue living and figuring things out in my own little life. There is so much life to live. I cannot worry about the past and the future. Neither can I solve the big problems in this world. I know there is only the present to be lived. There is only THIS. Who knows with certainty how things will turn out? All I know is that in this life, there are tasks to do, moments to enjoy, causes to pursue and people to love.
Right now, I am grateful I am in this state.