You go about your daily tasks, work on projects, plan for upcoming weeks, you have resolutions to keep, deadlines to meet, dreams to realize and boom!  You get pulled out, uprooted, redirected.  Suddenly plans collapse and you’re in the middle of the whole wreckage.

Twists and turns, that’s how life surprises us. How do you respond to it?  You get bogged down, discouraged, frustrated and then what? What happens next when life stops you in your tracks?

You pause.  Take it all in. Step back. Recognize what life is trying to tell you.  Understand what God is trying to tell you.

The process won’t be easy. The answers won’t be crystal clear right there and then.  The right thing to do is to do the next right thing.

You don’t have to figure out the answers all the time.  You don’t even have to understand why things happened the way they did.  Acceptance is the key and an action is the only thing that will take you forward.

Many of us are stuck with indecision. We don’t give ourselves a deadline as if we all have the time in the world.  Before we know it, we’ve stayed too long on a flat stationary surface while everybody else is moving forward and moving up.

Many of us are too comfortable staying comfortable.  We resist too much. We refuse to change.  We only welcome surprises that we like and hoped for, not the surprises that pull us back.

Our response to circumstances is quite telling of who we are in terms of character and how much we believe that there’s an external force beyond us, far larger and deeper than our human grasp.

When interruptions take place in our lives, we need to examine our heart and where does it lean on. Our plans are not God’s plans. You aways have to believe that there’s a reason and that reason is always for your own good.

Walls we have strongly built sometimes need to be broken down so we don’t rely on them more than we ought to. We need to rely on the One who gave us the strength to build those walls in the first place.  People, possessions, fame, power and fortune are not eternal trophies.  We will lose some, we will gain some, lose all, gain more.  Our total dependence on something finite, on another human being or even on ourselves has its drawback.   When the supply runs out, the luster’s gone, the person dies, gets sick or grows old, then you know it all stops there.

So what makes an earthly person, eternal?  We focus on exactly that— the eternal.  So that when your plans get disrupted, recalled or overhauled, you have the eyes to see beyond that. It’s easier to let go because you trust the One who knows it best.

God for all that He is, is always with you and will always be with you.  It doesn’t matter where you go, what you do or need to accomplish, what you have to let go or surrender.  If it is His will for you and your life, obey.  Let Him surprise you. Let Him take care of the things you’re worried about. Let God take the wheel.  When you do, you will never lose your way.

As I am writing this, it’s been a week since we came back from Switzerland. An exhilarating short trip that has been made possible and more memorable by the generosity of a couple we knew. Let’s call them Uncle H and Auntie B and here are some of the things we were blessed with:

  1. Uncle and auntie offered us a place to stay for the rest of the week (the best place I’ve stayed on since I started traveling in 2010- it’s more like a hotel, really!);
  2. They made us meals (always yummy and imagining it now still makes me crave for more)
  3. They drove us around (honestly, this is so much more than a chauffeur service- we didn’t have a hard time getting to places— and yes- it’s free!),
  4. and took us all to as much city and countryside areas in a span of nine days (the entire itinerary would have taken us longer- I’d say three weeks at least)!

Scenic, picturesque, breathtaking, spellbound— I’d run out of magical and wonderful words to describe the places we’ve been and the sights we’ve seen.  We did a lot of picnics, we hiked most of the time to see falls, green fields, mountains, old houses,we ate by the lake, in the park, in front of museums, cool restaurants, at home and almost always with a hearty conversation. But more than that I had so much of a great time meeting and knowing Uncle H & Auntie B- what they’ve given me- the experience, the wisdom, inspiration, and the love- is a gift that I’d always treasure for as long as I live.

I have never been struck by the life of someone else after meeting and being with them for a short span of time. But this was an exception. The encounter had left me in awe, it supercharged my heart, my body, and greatly enhanced my perspective in life. If you can imagine walking with springs in the soles of your feet and wings on your shoulders- like you’re almost leaping and flying with a wide smile painted on your face- that would pretty much describe my current state. I feel super happy and super blessed, no words can express!

Most nights I wonder, “where is all the love coming from,” “how can they give so much selflessly, not just things that money can buy, but the time, the effort (the cooking, the long drive), “how do uncle and auntie recharge their energies after a day spent outdoors and hiking in the mountains (did I mention they’re already in their 70s?!)”,  and they have so much wisdom, knowledge, and stories- – I could just listen to them all night and it’ll be like having read a book or two, and just see the world through their eyes.

I wish to grow old like them- full of life, wisdom, love, and abundance- – to put more heart in everything.  They may not be a perfect couple but to me, they are.  I’ve met their daughters and their grandkids and you can just see the energy, warmth, and kindness that runs in the family.  Being around them made me feel at home and there’s always sincerity, kindness, laughter and of course, delicious food (can’t be missed)!

With all the delightful memories I brought home with me, those nine days can be summed up as:

Living in a postcard (with all hearts, smiles, and sunshine drawn all over it)

Signed: by the coolest, sweetest, enthusiastic couple I’ve ever known.

The goodbye wasn’t easy. I dragged myself from bed the morning of that day.  I had no words to speak and I was already missing them and the place while we were having breakfast.  The drive almost felt like an eternity, if I can just turn back time or reset the journey to day one, I would not have given it a second thought.

All the way to the airport, check-in counters, to the passport control, Uncle H & Auntie B were with us, escorted us like little kids-  they’re always thoughtful like that.  I held back my tears as I hugged them for the first and last time.  As I went in I looked back and waved as quickly as I can so as not to cry.  I sure hope to see them again.  I wish them long life, good health, more adventures and more strength.  Uncle H & Auntie B always carry with them a sort of charm, exuding slowly as you spend time with them day by day.  I was charmed. And I will always be grateful for that.

Now to me, Switzerland means more than just the Alps, the chocolates, and the cheese.  It’s so full of marvelous people & wonderful nature of stunning simplicity and warmth.  And somewhere in that little country, uphill on the slopes of Monte San Salvatore, live an extraordinary couple that continues to touch hearts by their lives.  They definitely overwhelmed mine.

I’ve read a story about a traveler who met a monk on his journey and decided to come by his place. When they arrived, the traveler was surprised to see the monk’s house barely having anything apart from a bed, a chair, a table, a cup and a book. Curious, he asked the monk, “Why do you only own a few stuff?”. To this, the monk replied, “I can see you carried a few stuff yourself”. Baffled, the man explained, “Well Mr. Monk, that’s because I’m a traveler!”. With a twinkle in his eyes, the monk smiled and said , “So am I son, so am I.”

Have you thought about how simple life was when we were kids? We play, we eat, we sleep, then hit the repeat button. Or more profoundly, have you thought of how your life once was:

– when you were young and innocent
– when your heart was full of big dreams and hope
– when you were unafraid or maybe, less scared
– when you didn’t know what “worrying” meant, because you had so much faith,
– when you can’t be bothered by petty things and can’t afford to hold grudges ‘coz you desire peace & harmony & friendship
– when you knew forgiveness, the gift of it
– when you had so much love?

How wonderful it was. “If I could only go back”- the wish we whisper secretly in our hearts hoping the universe would hear and answer back.

So what’s the deal with us? Baggages. We carry too much. These days we are crippled by fear, weighed down by hurt, consumed with regrets, paralyzed by indecision, suspended by thoughts of “what-ifs” and “maybes”. Why? Because we chose to. It’s not pleasant to hear, but It is our fault. Our life doesn’t just unfold by itself. We steer its course. We have to learn, to grow, to take courage, to take responsibility for our choices, and let go already. Release, and let go.

What else? The consuming desire for fame, for power and fortune, that it becomes an obsession! The moment it takes hold of your life, the noble man inside of you dies. Like the characters in the story, we are all travelers in this world. Let’s not get too comfortable in it. Be extraordinary but learn to live simply. Good works and good deeds define a man. He’s measured by the attitude of his heart. Stay away from the trappings of this world. Guard your thoughts, guard your heart, pack your life’s suitcase. Go, and travel light!

That day when you receive a bad news.

At 3am, my cousin was on his way home from a birthday party driving his motorcycle. He was maneuvering his way through the intersection when he slammed into the rear end of a passing truck.  That second marked the last moment of his life.  At 20 years old, he’s gone too soon.

Moments- how fleeting they are.  Life- how fragile it becomes when we come face to face with death.  A day comes when your time runs out. A day comes when your heart stops beating and you breathe your last breath. Will the world around you stop ‘cause it suddenly lost you? Will your passing cause a sting in its core, or will it go about uninterrupted in its course, not realizing for a second that you actually existed? The answer right there would define the meaning of the life you lived.

We know that our time in this world is not infinite but most of us are not living our lives like we know this. Otherwise:

– we would have been more gentle with our words, and kind with our thoughts

– we would have walked away from pointless arguments and endless dramas

– we would have been more thoughtful of our loved-ones and careful with their hearts

– we would have admired the rain and the sun just the same

– we would have appreciated work, art, beauty and our capacity to build, to create, to

contribute

– we would have taken just enough for ourselves and shared the rest with the world

– we would have been more aware of the things around us even those we can’t see, but only             feel and touch and hear

– we would have loved more and worried less

– we would have valued people knowing that someday soon we may lose them too

So many things to cherish, to experience, to learn, to share, to give. If we only open ourselves to the endless possibilities around us and open our hearts to every good thing it can do and accomplish, the world would be very blessed.

Every fiber of your being is magic. Every cell in your body has been created wonderfully and with a purpose. You matter. You were made to. So celebrate life every chance you get. Time waits for no one, not even for the best of us,  so make every moment count.

I was maneuvering my car out of the building one day when I came face to face with an unexpected obstacle- a large pile of sand dumped on the driveway.

I was struck.

For a moment I tried to understand why someone would actually think this was a good idea.  Flustered, I eased my way out, fortunate enough to get some help from a  man nearby.

The drive to my workplace went on, in what felt like a trip to Anger City.  I kept thinking about the situation and the sensible options that the men responsible have had and should’ve taken.  “It’s a thoughtless act”, my mind pleaded.

Halfway through my journey, I caved in. I’ve acknowledged the fact that, it is what it is, yet hoped to change the situation if I can.  I prayed, really hard, just because it’s too difficult to pray when you’re on the verge of getting mad. I asked for patience, for forgiveness, for tolerance, and I prayed for a miracle.  Yes, a miracle- for a wonderful day despite an off start.

Less than half an hour, the brewing anger was gone. I parked the car and did my devotion.The issue slipped my mind until I came home later that day and saw the sand pile still there.

The area it now occupies reduced by a foot and a half. Not much, but certainly was an improvement.  I stepped out of the car, a bit frustrated. I approached the man-in-charge and discussed the problem with him. He quickly said, “Everything will be gone by morning”. I trusted his word and retired the night peacefully.

I woke up the next day hopeful as always and guess what I found at the parking area.  You can’t miss it, sand pile still there! I thought everybody else must have complained. The rest of the cars in the area are much bigger and longer than mine.  Well, I had two options at that point in time, look for a shovel and deal with it myself, or just drive my way out again like the day before.  Sadly, I didn’t have the luxury of time to play hero, so I opted for the latter choice.

Experiences such as this made me realize two things.

First:  Knowingly or unknowingly, we create unnecessary obstacles for people around us. This happens when:

-we refuse to help a genuine need even if we can,

-when we irresponsibly carry out our tasks,

-when we don’t deliver our promises on time or when we don’t deliver at all,

-when we don’t go the extra mile even if our strength allows us,

-when we don’t put in the effort to exceed a leader’s or a client’s expectations or at least meet what’s being required.

In other words, this is the case whenever we fall short of the ideal standards we all do know.

Second: When we get too consumed with our own little world and our own comfort, it’s easy to complain about the slightest of nuisances.  This stems from being used to a pampered existence.

We rarely give allowances to people’s mistakes.

We find it difficult to forgive a  non-life-threatening wrongdoing.

We give our all, to petty fights.

We argue a lot.

We quickly go into tantrums like a kid not getting a candy treat on Christmas day.

We got this far knowing this shouldn’t be the case. We are blessed enough to breathe, to walk, to smell, to eat and to see.

The basics. The important.

As I was still brooding from the past days’ trouble I discovered an extra 100 bucks in my bank account. Puzzled, I checked to find out what it was. Surprisingly, I got a cash back from the bank for debit card purchases in the past two months!  Awesome, right?!  Then I realized, perhaps God knew all along that I’d be pretty annoyed when the sand pile incident happens. So this is Him telling me to not sweat it out and get over it. And maybe, just maybe, He would have liked me to go and buy myself an ice cream!

So, that’s what I did. I suppose I’m not so grown up after all, 😀

 

A couple of days ago I found myself pondering on things I’ve learned the hard way in the past few months.  My brief introspection revealed these:

  1. You have to choose your own battles. You don’t have to be in every single one, and you don’t have to win every fight to prove a point, or to prove that you are right.  Sometimes walking away is the bravest thing that you can do. It may in fact be the wisest move.  You don’t have to fight every issue there is or be noisy or loud about many things.  You just have to stand up for and defend the things that really matter to you. Fight battles that are worth every fiber in your body, every beat of your heart, and every neuron in your brain. You may not always win, but at the very least you’ve showed how much you cared.
  2. Learn to say No to most things so you can say YES to a few and give it your best.  Success doesn’t have room for middle ground. It’s either in or out, yes or no, no “maybes’”or “yes-buts’”.  This philosophy won’t be easy if you don’t know what you want, or you haven’t thought of what’s really important to you.  Making a choice eventually boils down to what you value the most, and the priorities you have at a particular time.  It would be an injustice to yourself and to the people involved to only give 50% of what you can and ought to give. So do your self including the people around you a favor.  Say Yes only when you really mean it. Don’t stretch yourself too thin so you can give a 100% to your YESes and leave the “NO” avenues to people who can pick it up and do it better.
  3. Peoples’ opinion of you and how they treat you speaks of them, and not you.  Let’s face it, hurt people, hurt people.  When a person’s heart is filled with rage, insecurity, malice, arrogance, it’ll show in his manners and in his speech.  Same would be true if a person’s  heart is filled with peace, contentment, respect and humility (you definitely would want to hangout with this type :-)).  All the words we speak, the thoughts we entertain, and all our ways are projections of the contents of our heart.  It’s not about the other person. It’s about us.  So the next time somebody treats you badly realize that the person may be in deep, dark, hurtful place.  This doesn’t justify the act, but it’ll give you a sense of perspective and broader understanding of what’s taking place. Then, you can act accordingly guided by the wisdom this thought gives you.

I wanted to share these hoping it may give you light as you’re walking down your own path.  You may liken it to a flower or a firewood you’d stumble upon on your journey— you can pick whatever inspires you or what you’d find useful enough to keep.  Who knows, we might see each other round the next bend and get to swap pebbles, cookies and stuff.  Until then, light your own path and enjoy the journey, after all, there’s only one.