When Tatay Cirilo (my Nanay’s father) was last confined in a hospital, he talked about a dream he had while lying in the operation room. In the dream, he was walking in a forest so deep he almost couldn’t see its end. That was one of the last few words I heard from him.
Months before that, he told me maybe I can already start thinking about building a family or a relationship, at least, because my career is already going well. That was the first time I heard him say that. Far from his usual authoritative voice, the suggestion was uttered softly. It sounded as if he was trying not to embarrass and pressure me in front of the other family members. But I stayed true to character and just changed the topic.
We lost him early last year. His life lasted for more than nine decades. Before 2015 ended, I found myself looking back and thinking of his words.
The past few months left me with the lesson that I should stop spending so much time stressing about the future and learn to value what I already have. That may sound like a cliche. But some time ago, I ignored that simple lesson and the hurt I caused was far from being predictable. It was not like anything that I imagined.
Tatay Cirilo handpicked the wooden foundation of the house he built for his family at Poblacion, Morong, Bataan. That ensured that the foundations were of high quality and would last a long time. I only figured out recently that at the hospital, he might have been dreaming of the time he was looking for wood.
Relationships – with family, friends and loved ones – require hard work. For someone who works in a profession that requires careful use of words, I can be careless when it comes to personal matters. This year taught me that in any area of life, I should always make sure that my words reflect my intent. More importantly, take time away from the noise of words and let my actions catch up with my promises. Take time to carefully and lovingly pick the foundations upon which I build relationships. What I want to remember in my last hours is the forest I walked because of love. For people who matter to me.
There are so many people to thank for what they shared with me in the past year. But as I said before, I will just make my life an expression of gratitude.
Thank you, 2015.
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River of my childhood in Morong, Bataan
Hello, 2016. Here’s my partial to-do list for this year.
Help set up an art exhibit. Join the TNF trail run in Benguet. Train for the TBR Dream Marathon 2017. Skim and surf in Davao Oriental. Visit Palawan. Ride the Pasig River ferry.
- Donate blood.
- Get a new tattoo.
Start a new business. Climb a mountain. Organize a free museum trip for kids from Bataan. Donate books to a public school.
- Finish a painting.
- Finish reading at least three of the books I bought pre-2016.
- Write for a travel magazine.
- Plant 33 native trees in my hometown.
Help me cross out each of these goals before 2016 ends. One by one, I will tell the stories of how these are connected with the lessons from the past year. This will also be a period of learning, collaboration and adventure. Happy new year!