Irony of love

While waiting for the train this morning, I saw a blind couple standing few steps from me. Yes, both of them are blind. They looked so happy playing-fights. When they spoke, they faced each other as if they were looking at each other’s eyes. When the train came, they squeezed into the crowd without letting go of their hands. I thought to myself, they may not be able to see the beauty this world has to offer, but the presence of each other will let them see the beauty of love.

The thought of the couple never left me. I stared at the heavy clouds beyond the glass window wondering, aren’t most, if not all, of us blind?

In this restless world we are living, there will always come a time when the deafening hustle and bustle of a technology-driven lifestyle can no longer conceal the screaming of our hearts.

We all have people to love. There are our family, relatives, friends, classmates or colleagues, neighbors and even our pets. And then there is this special someone who turns our world upside down.

Loving them seems to change everything in us. They’re like a rainbow after the rain, painting a kaleidoscope to our once dull world. The inspiration they gave allows us to soar higher than we could have imagined reaching. They can change or challenge some of our idealism without even uttering a word. They are the ones who taught us the kind of love that seeks for what is best for the person while bringing out the best in us.

Whenever there is a chance, we always make it a point to let them feel our love. If only it is possible to stick a post-it on our forehead with the words “I love you”, we could have done it just to let them know. However, most of them just don’t seem to see. And if they do, sometimes they’d push us away.

How many of us suffer from the agony of unreciprocated love? How many of us have been rejected because the person we love loves someone else? But how many of us have been blind to the love given to us? Are we not the one who’s blind?

Nuggets of wisdom for the youngsters

Last week I visited Fr. Bonnie Mendes. He was the Regional Director of Caritas Asia and had retired recently to stay for good in his native land, Pakistan.

I met Fr. Bonnie over a year ago. Ever since, I always admire his simplicity and humility. As an expert veteran of this sojourn called life, he imparted many lessons to us. His sense of humor had not concealed the profound wisdom he has.

He used to offer mass in his office with me and Neil. Those were memorable moments I will forever cherish. Since he is going back to his country, I grabbed the chance to see him. Over dinner, I threw him two questions that I wanted to share to my fellow youngsters.

Question: If there is one advice that you want to give to the youth, what is it?

Answer: Relax

Very brief answer isn’t it? This is what I like about Fr. Bonnie, his simple outlook manifests on his simplified approach to life’s complexities. With that answer, various interpretations crossed my mind. Maybe he meant we should try to relax and not worry so much on things that we can actually live without. Maybe he meant we should stop pressuring ourselves on attaining the set of goals and standards we’ve laid before us and just let it unfold at the right time, without taking it for granted of course. Maybe he meant we should stop trying to live up to others’ or the societies’ expectations.

Did he just say “relax”? So why was I too busy trying to find depth on such simple advice and allowed myself to wander, almost leaving the present moment? Oh well, relax, relax.

He added, “The youth nowadays doesn’t know how to relax. “It is good to spend a few minutes, even just 15 minutes, each day to just relax, without mobile phones, internet, just be still and be amazed at the difference it can make.” And yes, it does make a lot of difference not just to our state of mind but also to our physical and emotional health.

Neil Rusia, Fr. Bonnie Mendes and Omar Jayag

Question: What do you think is the one thing the youth have ignored these days?

Answer: Silence

This time, I will not over-analyse. The answer is silence, literally and figuratively, full stop.

We talked about different things under the sky. He taught me to manage my time, prioritise, multi-task and focus so that I will be more productive and efficient in my work. As a young professional, I always value every advice I can get from my seniors.

We also talked about how other people have so much while others struggle to survive. The queen of England for instance has 586 rooms (minus the offices, staterooms and bathrooms) in Buckingham Palace alone whilst many sleep on the streets, not to mention the millions of homeless children!

My work in AFPPD exposed me to gender issues such as gender-based violence. I am particularly concerned with women in South Asia where GBV is very rampant. Although there have been quite a lot of progress in both the private and government sectors’ efforts to address these issues, more still need to be done. As a South Asian, I asked his thoughts and what the situation really is in their region. He said, “the legislations are there but they are not well-implemented.” This is a very sad reality.

He taught me not to regret on the things that I failed to do in the past. He reminded me how pointless it is to say, “I should have”. Things as silly as “I should have bought that” bother us when after some time we will actually forget we had wanted it or at some point we will realize we don’t really need it. He said, “let bygones be bygones.”

Before I went on the train, I told him I’m sorry I had so many questions. He said, “It’s good because it means you are learning”.

journey to the unknown

At St. James Park, London

They said, life begins the moment you step out of your comfort zone. But no one said it would be this hard. Even so, the rewards are worth the risks. You don’t only get to see a wider world brimming with extraordinary experiences, you’ll also learn to appreciate the beauty there is in life’s imperfection. And the best part? It’s knowing the self you’ve never once known.