The last few days have been extra challenging for me. I’ve had 8AM-8PM classes that left me exhausted. I am sick with cough and cold. My head feels like I’m carrying an extra pound between my shoulders. Yet, I had to drag myself and go to school.
There have been some internal chaos as well. My sense of compassion has been put to test but leaned towards failing. Such internal battle, more than anything, left me paralyzed I ended up wasting precious time which I should have devoted to studying for next week’s final exams.
In my hopes to catch up with studies, I came to this coffee shop early. I’d probably be here for the rest of the day. The café just opened. I am their first customer. When I entered, I was greeted by worship songs so familiar every beat of my heart knows the lyrics. After giving my order, I sat in a corner and just let the music soothe my soul.
I am not an atheist because I still believe in a power greater than anything that’s holding up the universe. However, for several years now I stopped associating myself with any religion though I was born and baptized as a Roman Catholic. I evolved into a being that values spirituality more than religiosity. Besides, all religious teachings boil down to the same values of love, respect, compassion and so on.
So, I am doing away with the religious practices. I don’t go to any mass, albeit I try as best I can to manifest my spirituality through my actions towards others. Right now though, these Christian songs touched me in an oh so familiar way. My restless soul suddenly calmed down as if a storm had just stopped and everything around is quiet.
It’s a feeling I don’t want to interpret or analyze using my religious skeptic mind. I just want to savor the moment while it lasts.
Our life can get extremely monotonous at times it feels as though we are treading a long winding tunnel with no end in sight. Whenever I feel this way, I try to think of quirky things to do that can fire up my day.
It was a chilly spring afternoon. I woke up from a nap. My then boyfriend –now my hubby—was still asleep. It wasn’t an ordinary day sucked up by monotony. Rather, it was a happy time of being reunited. However, at that moment in time I felt a tinge of melancholy because I was going to leave him in a few days’ time and go back to work in Bangkok. I couldn’t even make it to his birthday which was only two days after my departure. While I sat by the window, I gazed at him breathing calmly in deep slumber then I turned my gaze outside where the grasses and trees were beginning to enliven springtime.
I wanted to make his birthday special even without my presence but not in a typical way. Suddenly, I was struck with an idea. He would never have guessed that on his birthday, a bouquet will be delivered at his doorstep. I immediately placed my order online before he woke up.
Andddddd the big day came! We were talking on Skype. The buzzer sounded. He bid adieu thinking it was his friend Mark who came to have lunch with him. But to his surprise, it was the delivery lady handing him the sweet smelling bouquet of orange daisies, roses and lilies. He came back online right away to share with me his confused reaction which amused me to bits. He couldn’t quite find the exact words to express how it made him feel. He was of course happy but he seemed to be feeling something else that he cannot put a name on.
I guessed it was because men are not used to receiving flowers. Most men spend their lifetime never getting one. Whilst women love receiving flowers, men – those very few who experienced being given one– may just don’t know how to actually react. It was an interesting experience for me as well to find out how men are when it comes to receiving presents normally given to women.
Someday, when my day becomes another draining monotony, I would do it again. I’ll hand him the bouquet and see how he’d react myself.
What about you? What bizarre things do you do when life is a standstill?
I once saw a quote that said, “it’s okay if all you did today was breathe”. I keep reminding myself of this piece of wisdom whenever I feel anxious for not being “productive”. What does it mean to be productive anyway? Ahhhh, it’s the same as asking what it means to be successful. There are no definite answers but many people struggle in going beyond what society portrays as being productive or successful.
Movies show us people juggling several things at the same time. A woman cooking and looking after the baby while talking to someone on the phone. A working lady jumping at one meeting to the other, folders in hand and a cup of coffee on the other. There are meetings over breakfast because the day is too occupied that the only time to squeeze that one meeting is during breakfast. We have been conditioned to adapt to this lifestyle to feel a sense of belongingness to the “productive” group. We are made to feel that life is wasted or that we are lazy if we are not busy.
The problem with this never ending ‘busyness’ though is that it deprives us of precious time for reflection. It’s so easy to get caught up with the habits of multitasking and feeling productive but at some point, we would realize that we are getting nowhere. Many people have reached a point of identity or emotional crises after suffering from burn-out and realizing that their constant chase for productiveness has brought them no meaning, no sense of purpose, and no clear direction for the future.
As I lie in a hammock, feeling the breeze against my cheeks and listening to the chirping birds, I thank heavens for the opportunity to be still, to breathe in life and hear my soul speak. I wish I had done this more often before. I was caught up with the overly glorified busy lifestyle that I neglected time for reflection and retrospection. I learned that such ‘busyness’ had, in fact, blurred my idealism. I began to question and got skeptical about so many things, thinking they were the problems of the world, when in fact the problem was me and my lack of direction and sense of purpose. Ticking my to-do list was not the same as having a life purpose. No matter how much I’ve accomplished in a day if I don’t spend time to reflect and redirect myself towards the right path, those daily accomplishments were nothing but futile.
The shallow sense of productiveness has resulted to plenty of outputs but most of the time has never brought quality outcomes. That’s why it felt like living in circles, doing a myriad of things day by day but never reaching a milestone. We owe it to ourselves to spend time to just slow down, to just breathe. Maybe during these moments of silence, our sense of purpose will be crystallized, our direction made clearer and our daily pursuit of productiveness will no longer be barren but full of promises and meaning.