Buhay Makulay 002: Treasure Simplicity

Some things in life can be simple.

There is so much on my mind these days. Things to accomplish, ideas to share, blessings to be thankful for. How often I have sat in front of this tab on my browser, “Add New Post,” eager to write a new blog entry. Yet each time I am tangled between so many different threads of life and thought, that my mind is left speechless. Numb, even.

I type a line or a phrase. Pause. Then highlight and delete it. Before I can complete a thought, I am taken away by a work meeting, an errand to run, a class to teach, or just boring old exhaustion. Hours, days, weeks later; I have a few empty drafts and nothing new. So here come my few centavos worth of thoughts, hoping to break this cycle of silence. And like most of my writing, it is less for the sake of being heard by others, and more to able to hear myself.

Yesterday, was the seventh workshop day of Buhay Makulay’s Likha Workshop series (7/10). To close off our volunteer’s debrief after lunch, I asked my team to go around the circle and share how the children pointed them to God that morning. One sentence.

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After they had all shared such beautiful and sweet spoonfuls of joy and learning, I was left with a reminder for my own heart that I in turn shared with them: Some things in life can just be simple.

There are things in life that will choose to be complicated. They will complicate themselves on their own without your help or desire. They will even refuse to be anything except complicated. A problem at work. A quarrel with your best friend. What to order at your favorite restaurant.

But, there are things in life that don’t have to be complicated at all, even if our human minds perceive them so. Like the truth that God is good. The human longing to belong. The desire to achieve a lifelong dream. The love of a father for a child. How to get to your afternoon meeting. Who to invite to your birthday celebration. Or what to cook for breakfast.

I have been very very very busy for the past few months. Probably the busiest I have been in the past year. In the midst of the craziness, I am finding clarity. In the overabundance of life happenings, I am almost forced to sift through all of it, looking carefully for the things that actually carry weight, to keep me grounded. The things that are worth holding on to, worth setting my eyes on.

I’d like to think I am continuously in the process of simplifying my life. This is not only the process of removing objects from my possession. Neither is it a mere reduction of activities, commitments or hobbies. It goes deeper into the surface than that: It is a paring down of the things that I regard with value. These, we can choose. When those things are clear and simple in your heart, no earthly complication can corrode it. Through the complexity, the truth will speak simply.

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How did I come to reflect about simplicity with my Buhay Makulay kids? I don’t know exactly. But in their company, the world somehow simplifies itself. Perhaps it is because we are taken away from our usual hectic daily-grind environments, where we are eaten up by worries both big and small. For the children, these worries on any given day could include where their next meal will come from, how they cannot go to school because of a parent’s illness, or a recent death of a family member. Mine, though not as grave and often tied less to immediate need, tend to feel just as urgent.

Yet the joy on the children’s faces will seldom reveal the losses of which they suffer or the needs that cannot be fulfilled. They will leave their worries at the door and enjoy a moment with you. With the swing of their voices in my ear as they tell me about their artwork, I know we are friends. And this friendship is simple. This moment is simple and true.

Let the world be complicated; but draw near to the things that keep you simply and genuinely you, without muddling for achievement, recognition, prize or gain.

 

(P.S. Happy 25th post, Speak Soon! YAY!)

Resurfacing T

I think you may have guessed from the silence emanating from my blog, that either (1) life has been very busy and exciting for me or (2) life has been desperately boring, locking me up in a state too horribly embarrassing to even write about, that my shame has caused me to hide out in internet anonymity until further notice, or at least until something remotely entertaining in my life arrives to push me out of the depths of dilly dallying doom that suffocates me like a tie tied too tight.

Well…you will be glad to know that it is the former. This year could not have gotten off to a better start. And all of it in unplanned ways. Ah, it’s always in unplanned ways! I can’t even begin to share about how my life’s plot continues to thicken (in promising, not questionable ways), but I will write a bit about a few things I have learned about myself in these first weeks of the year:

1. Entrepre-WHAT?!

Yes, it seems I have been making the crossover. Well, maybe less of a crossover into someone different and more of an expanding of self. It’s been some months in the discovery, and more than a handful of people have given me similar feedback,… but I am finally coming to terms with this: that I may have more than just two and a half threads of business-minded muscle in this dancer’s body, woven in bright stitches in all my artsy-fartsyness! It was a speaking engagement with a partner foundation just two weeks ago that really opened my eyes to how I was breaking out into a new discipline. (More on that in future writing!)

We shall see where this goes! But for now, I am beyond excited to be able to make this discovery as the company I represent helps build livelihood programs for Filipinos with very limited professional prospects at the moment. It is an amazing feeling to be able to help provide jobs for people that so desperately need it, when I myself have just recently began my life in the “professional” world.

2. I’m a dancer, and there’s just no way to shake it out of my body. Or out of my soul for that matter.

In the latter half of 2012, after moving back to the Philippines I hadn’t been training or taking many dance classes. After having a very dance-intensive life in college, this was a bit of a letdown – for body, mind and heart. I appeased myself by teaching Zumba classes, running (not a favorite past time, but it will do, if only to push my body toward some sort of limit), and dancing alone in my little home studio. Right before the close of 2012, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I discovered a place to dance, take classes, and push my body toward a whole new limit. It came at just the right time! This year my opportunities in that place have grown even more.

Not only that, but in just the second day of this year, I was reunited with two good friends who took me to a freestyle dance workshop on a whim. No doubt, I felt a little out of my element, but it was the needed push to open my year up to dancing again.I was challenged, inspired and more importantly, reconnected with a community of dancers.

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Reunited on stage after eight years!

Just a few weeks ago, I got another random call from one of those friends on a Thursday– telling me, not asking me, about our plans for performing over that weekend. Together we did the doxology for a college dance concert, barely practicing before the show! They needed someone who was comfortable with improvising, and there we were, freestyling a somewhat structured prayer, through dance.

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Then again, randomly, last Monday, I got a text from the other of the two friends asking for a favor, that I might dance with him at church on Sunday. It seems I rarely turn down an opportunity to perform because I said yes, even when he told me we’d have to dance seven times throughout the day. The creative process leading up to Sunday consisted of just two practices, but we were certainly amazed at how God used even those short moments together to help us choreograph a story of love between two characters. I got proposed to seven times in one day! (That Sunday’s theme was “Marry Me!”)

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We survived sixteen hours, seven services and proposals! I wouldn’t mind not hearing Train’s “Marry Me” for another sixteen months…

3. The calendar fills up without even trying.

Barely a few weeks into the year, 2013 was already shaping itself up. Dates were getting blocked out for events, like weddings or trips. We were setting quarterly targets at work. With my Buhay Makulay team we were setting program dates and casting visions. So on and so forth. But the spaces underneath dates are now tied down in scribbles. First in vague ideas, but more and more concrete as the weeks go by.

I’ve noticed how nice it is to be able to think of a year in calendar quarters, rather than school semesters. My calendar no longer revolves around an academic schedule (with the sad loss of casualties like summer break and winter break), but I can now look at a year in full and wide perspective, not broken up and spilling into another year. I like this view a lot better. It makes more sense to me, a steady ebb and flow of months and seasons. Although I panicked a little when I realized how far ahead things could be arranged! I already have an idea of what my December looks like, even from this end of the calendar year.

Now wasn’t that a mouthful of a post?! Bottom line? 2013, what an adventure it will be to slowly unwrap you!  I just hope I find time to write about it.

Speak soon,

T.