1. I resolved that for my every birthday starting 2015, I make an effort to go on a silent retreat. To get away from the city life for few days. To recharge. To reflect. To have my Me Moments. For my first attempt, I went to the Monastery of Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, managed by the Benedictine Monks. How did I know the place? I had read about it before, then surfed online, verified some contacts and before I knew it, I already booked a flight and I was confirming the schedule with Dom Martin, the caretaker. When I was there, I could have brought my laptop because literally I did not have anything to do except attending prayers. The monks made simple gestures but they did not bother you at all because they observe a vow of silence. Hindi naman ako nabore, pero isang beses, napakanta akong malakas ng Sound of Music doing ala Maria Von Trapp, 'I go to the hills when my heart is lonely. I know I would hear what I heard before. My heart will be blessed with the sound of music. And I will sing once more'. Kulang na lang i-video ako. Buti kasama ko lang mga ibon at mga trees.
2. I lost a good friend this year and it made a huge impact on me, in more ways meaningful. This is the year when I felt the 'limits of mortality'. I still feel it everytime I am reminded. What did it do to me? It only 'reinforces' that Life, after all, is Short. There is just so much to be Grateful and so much to live for that you must not have time to focus on the negative, the destructive, the frustration, the stress. It may be so easy and sometimes the struggle is a bit hard but that is just how it is. You must choose to be Grateful. You must choose to be Content. I Must Choose to Be Generous and Kind. I Must Choose to be Forgiving. I Must Choose to be Patient and Persistent.
3. My ever dream of becoming a sociologist has been kind of stalled. I did not make any progress in finishing my thesis draft. There was just to much work. My sociologist friend once remarked that I am using work as my scapegoat to not make progress. It was somehow true. I did consult my advisers. I did preliminary fieldwork. I did write few notes here and there. But the consolidation was difficult. I lost focus. had a feeling that I needed to shelve it for a while because I was really not 'feeling' it. I somehow got frustrated that I thought I should resign from work and just finished the writing. But I choose the practical practicality on my expenses to support my city living and rent. There was minimum progress, I can say. I must face the consequences. Overall, I still hold on to this dream. If there is to be grateful, I have the best support group to help enlighten me.
4. Friends. My friends help me get through emotional and mental ordeals this year. By just talking to them, it is bliss. As I grow old, I prefer to just stay in some cozy lobby, eat and drink, and talk. Well, not all the time, we could discover new places. You see, I am kind of low maintenance. My friends are my one of my primary lifelines. Some come and go. Some of my close friends had a tough year. Some focused their energies on their family. I just made sure that I was accessible to them.
5. Family. Our family is expanding. It means that my siblings are building families of their own. We have our first nephew. My bundle of joy! More nieces and nephews are coming! My mom turned senior citizen this year. But to some extent, there was no 'celebration' (think of ballroom with roses!). We decided it would be just an installment of mini-celebrations here and there, which ended up as mas magastos. I am still the ever grumpy Ate in the family. I pray for their Good Health and To Be Inspired Always. I prefer it that way. Easy.
6. Career. Everytime, I think about my career, it has always been this roller coaster. Just when I begun to be feeling down about it, something would save me, like a lifebuoy thrown at me in the sea. Earlier this year, I felt like I was making an impact in everything that I did and that was enough. With the professional program that I managed, I gained wonderful colleagues. With some of the governance programs that I got to participate, there were really meaningful outcomes. In all of these, I was doing the work in my little corner with no fanfare. I never asked for any affirmation. I can confidently say I was a part of whatever big project that we have.
Do not get me wrong, sometimes, I desperately longed for an 'affirmation' especially from the usual bosses and colleagues. They gave me kind words but I realized it was not really what I needed. What I needed was a change in work environment! So as early as 2014, I begun sending applications and late this year by Grace, I accepted a new job offer.
The application was a life changing process. I took grueling tests and an interview. After receiving the confirmation email, I felt the biggest 'affirmation'. My friends said I should better be feeling Good and leave all things (not so good things, rather) behind. The World - the Universe rather - must have given in for all the persistence that I have done. The new work will definitely be better and exciting. A brave new world is waiting for me and I will embrace it.
8. I end this year with a renewed Faith. Faith has always guided me this 2015. I won't make too many plans for next year. Instead I will chart some short and medium term Must Do's to better prepare myself in a new environment.
The year 2015 is all about Faith. 'Minsan ganoon naman talaga lang - Faith, Love, Hope! Magsasanga sanga na lang yan. But you will never get lost. Like an ever winding river and finally into your sea of Grace.'
I am a city dweller. I have been 'wired' by the notion of an urban life with years after years living in the city. I love what the city offers, the promise it holds on those who want to make a fresh start, to make it big in the City. I also love the contradictions. Its noise and irony, where some big dreams fail and others hope to reboot. I love this immense opportunity a city brings, not just on economic terms. I love the idea where everything can be accessible. I love the 'diversity'. I love the 'noir'.
In this ever and loyal city I live, I had a share. I witnessed the near grim. I felt the frustration of immobility. I waded in the dirty waters. I laughed with most joy with family and friends. I could stare big concrete when I could be most confused.
But the buzz gives me a sense of high. I can complain when there are just so many people like in the malls but I have always loved the 'sound' of people talking and sharing stories, laughing. The city's narrative is always rich. The sights and sounds, no matter how it gets frustrating, converge in a rhapsody.
After all the excitement this city brings, come night, I retreat in my apartment. Away from all the buzz. As soon as I arrive, close the door, I turn on music. I clean, wash dishes and read through my notes, send updates and enjoy the silence this apartment brings. Sometimes, it can be lonely but most of the time, it is reassuring because out there, on another day, the city is luring me to discover another set of perspectives. Through the narrow alleys, a bargain is calling. A friend in need and you are in the quaintest of coffeeshops. Sometimes predictable, but the city hates too many traditions because for it to become successful, its people need to innovate, to be creative, to become empowered, to deny conventions and renegotiate values. Of course, not all cities are created equal. But with one's perseverance and faith, the city can help make all your dreams come true.