Lessons to keep from 2020

Published December 30, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Milwida Guevara

Our tradition has always been to write resolutions for the New Year.  We keep a wish list of what we intend to do to make our lives more meaningful.  Some prefer to do a bucket list of places to see or things to do.  But this year is different.  Difficult as the year 2020 was, we pause and reflect on lessons we have learned and those we can keep.

I now have learned that unlike what the poem “Invictus” says, we are not the master of our fate and the captain of our soul.   Thomas Kempis said it rightly, “Man proposes and God disposes.” There we were with our strategic plans so organized in a Gantt chart and logical framework.  But they were not meant to be. 

The lockdown made me feel imprisoned and totally alone.  But, out of nowhere, Gov. Migs Dominguez sent me a box of sardines; his sister Cecille sent a box of fruits. Congressman John Rey Tiangco sent a basket full of fish and prawns.  Marla, my niece sent a bagful of groceries.  And then came food deliveries from Annie, Chingkel and Minie.   Now I can only smile when people express their apprehension of growing old and alone.  We can never be truly alone.   God send us angels   disguised as friends.  And the love from family never ends.

I have learned that gratitude is the beginning of humility.  I begin the day with a prayer of thanksgiving.  I have been blessed to wake up to a new morn.  I am given a new day to become.  Gratitude ends my day as I recall the blessings that each day brings.  With joy, I recite the poem which my grade one teacher, Ms. Correa taught: “All things bright and beautiful, the Lord God made them all.”  I thank God for the internet, for text messages from friends, for songs of hope that Dr. Torralba sends, for being healthy and being spared from Covid.

I am now a great believer of exercise.  My bed beckons every morning and invites me to sleep late.  But I resist the temptation and gear up for my early morning walk.  Studies have shown that people who exercise are less prone to depression and anxiety.  Exercising keeps us energized throughout the day.  Rain or no rain, morning walks are now part of my daily ritual.

I have come to realize that less is more.  For the last several months, I have subsisted on a few set of house clothes.  I cannot even recall why I needed so many pairs of shoes, different jackets depending on the weather, and bags to match what I was wearing.   I have even forgotten their colors, and why I even bought them.  Even if the malls have opened and stores have gone on sale, I have not felt any strong desire to go shopping—even on line.  I have become a greater advocate of “Simple is beautiful” and that it is not that hard to buy nothing.  I have become more generous and believe that we have to give until it hurts.

I have learned that there are more and more people who are less fortunate and bear greater problems that we do.  They have their own stories—the gardener, the delivery boy, the security guard, the housekeeper, the teachers and the parents in our zoom workshops.  The greatest gift we can give them is the gift of time to listen, and if we can, to help, since the littlest assistance is appreciated a hundredfold.  A few peso bills bring a heartfelt smile and a study table is welcomed with shrieks of joy from a child.

I have experienced what I have always taught in Economics—the point of satiation.  We can only have so much of fast food and on-line deliveries.  One day, I woke up pining for home cooked food.  Where before I did not relish cooking, I now thoroughly enjoy whipping up spaghetti, preparing “patola at miswa, “upo” with chicken broth, and, pork adobo.

I have been truly inspired by the victory of President-Elect Joseph R. Biden.  And if the Americans can do it, the Filipinos can!  We only have to believe that we can elect the leaders we all deserve.  As Julia Roberts say, “Eat, pray, love”.  And if I may add, we have to work hard like our life depends on it.

Here is a toast for a Brighter New Year! 

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